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Video Game / Battle Garegga

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The reality of war unfolded right before the brothers' eyes, forcing them to face the truth, and their own naivety.

"They created the ultimate weapon...and now, it has become their ultimate enemy."
Tag Line, Limited Run Games edition

Battle Garegga is a vertically scrolling Shoot 'Em Up arcade game released by 8ing/Raizing in 1996.

Mathew Wayne, a great mechanical engineer, lived in a small country town where he owned a small automobile factory. His young sons, Brian and Jason, were influenced by his work. The sons were taught by his father every trick of the trade of becoming a mechanical engineer as great as he was. A few years later as their father retired, Brian and Jason took over the operation of the factory. As years rolled by, words of their vehicle designs and high technical capabilities passed from one town to another until it reached the ears of the federal government. After talks with the managers of the federal weapons development, the Wayne brothers accepted a large contract to develop a new line of military vehicles and weapons for them. Their creations were years ahead of anything else like them in the world.

One morning, the sky turned dark by the oncoming fleet of planes and the echoes can be heard from a far distance. The weapons and the vehicles that the Wayne brothers originally developed for the federation destroyed every town and city in their way - including their own. Seeing that their weapons had enabled the federation to expand through conquest and had claimed many victims in the process, Brian and Jason complete four powerful prototype planes whose designs they never submitted and set off to destroy the weapons they helped create.

On the surface, Battle Garegga seems like an ordinary military-themed shooter. You pilot one of four different ships, shoot down enemies, upgrade your main shot with items, and have up to four Attack Drones that fire alongside of ship and which can be configured into multiple formation types. However, the main highlight of this game amogst shmup enthusiasts is its "rank" system. As you play, the game's rank increases, and the game gets more difficult, with enemies firing faster and denser attacks and items dropping faster. Furthermore, nearly every single action by the player influences the rank, mainly firing their weapons and collecting items, and the only way to reduce rank is to die. Without managing rank deliberately and carefully, Garegga easily becomes one of the hardest shmups in arcades. On top of that, the game's scoring system is more in-depth than it seems; certain bosses and their parts award more points if defeated with certain types of weapons, collecting medals without missing them awards increasing points making them one of the main sources of score, and firing Smart Bombs at the scenery can uncover treasure troves of items. Scoring well in this game is necessary, as points award extra that the player can suicide them to keep the game's rank at a level managable to them. Finally, the game is known for its gritty, low-contrast color style, being realistically brown, with even the bullets often being low-brightness gray or olive-colored. Because of all this, Garegga has been called a masterpiece of shmup design, a heaping pile of Fake Difficulty, and everything in between.

This game marks Manabu Namiki's debut as a video game soundtrack composer.

A Sega Saturn port was released exclusively in Japan in 1998, which adds a few new features. An Updated Re-release by M2 as part of the M2 ShotTriggers series of ports and in celebration of the game's 20th anniversary, Battle Garegga Rev.2016, was released on December 15, 2016 on PlayStation 4 in Japan and on October 4, 2017 in the rest of the world, and globally on Xbox One on September 29, 2017.

See also Armed Police Batrider, the Spiritual Successor to this game.

Tropes used in Battle Garegga

  • All There in the Manual: All of the story comes from the promotional flyers for the game. Also, the game itself never mentions anything about why you're in a plane shooting other planes at any point.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The Saturn port introduces several:
      • You no longer need to reset the game or let the attract demo repeat to reset starting rank; instead, you just open the options menu.
      • In the arcade version, the Mahou Daisakusen characters require inputting a code (specifically, a variation of the Konami Code) at the title screen to unlock. In the Saturn port, they're toggled with a setting in the options menu that is available without needing a code.
      • One of the commands you can assign to a button is a "press shot, bomb, and option simultaneously" command, used for selecting the ship variation that is chosen by pressing all three of those buttons at once.
      • One of the options changes colors of some bullets to glowing red bullets, helping alleviate some of the Fake Difficulty caused by the realistic-looking bullets.
    • Rev. 2016 provides more:
      • All of the features from the Saturn version above are available. Resetting rank for the next game is even more simple, you just have to choose "reset game" from tha pause menu, and the bullet color option now has more settings, such as normal bullets with brighter colors or other neon colors.
      • In the Premium Arrange mode in Rev. 2016, an auto-bomb feature is available. However, since dying on purpose remains a core mechanic, auto-bomb will only activate if you are firing when you get hit. If you aren't firing, the game will assume you meant to die and will not fire a bomb for you.
  • Arbitrary Weapon Range: Many enemies have a minimum range at which they will fire at you. Exploiting this trope is quietly discouraged, as "sealing" enemy bullets is one of many ways to raise the game's rank.
  • Arrange Mode: The M2 Shottriggers Updated Re-release Rev. 2016 has the Premium arrange, which swaps stages 2 and 3, includes an auto-bomb feature, and a new max rank mode. This new max rank mode is entered by having at least 2000 point medals, and not dying, auto-bombing, or missing a medal, and, once entered, raises the rank to 100%, increases item drop rate, magnetizes all medals to your ship, raises score constantly throughout the stage, occasionally floods the stage with enemies, and, if the ship is at max shot or option power, drops a medal where shot and option power-ups would be. Rank is locked to a fixed amount per stage and rapid fire is locked at 15 Hz. The same port also has a custom mode that lets you tweak various game parameters, including adjusting the fine details of the rank system, making it a fixed amount per stage like in Premium Arrange, adjusting the rate at which it increases, fixing the rank to 100%, or turning it off completely like in Super Easy.
  • Attack Drone: Your ship can have up to four Options that follow your ship and fire in sync with your shots. They can be configured to a variety of different formations with the press of the Option button.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Most bosses must be hit in their centers in order to damage it. However, hitting everything else on it will still give you points. It's often a good idea to prolong a boss fight this way to get you close to or even get an extra life, depending on your skill and your current rank.
  • Battleship Raid: Sometimes a gigantic airplane raid as well.
  • Boss Rush: The second half of Stage 5. You fight improved versions of Nose Laughin and Mad Ball (the first two bosses in the game), followed by the huge Slayer gunship you saw under construction in stage 3, culminating with the endboss Black Heart.
  • Bullet Hell: A milder example (except on MAX Rank).
  • Cap: Averted; the score display has 7 digits, but exceeding 9,999,990 will simply make the millions digit start using letters instead of numbers. The world record is in the range of "K million" (i.e. 20 million) points.
  • Climax Boss:
    • Black Heart, the last boss you face before entering the enemy base. Also the longest for many players.
    • The Stage 6 midboss, Fortress, from a purely gameplay standpoint. Whether the player will be able to defeat it hinges not only on their skills but whether they effectively managed rank in the first five stages.
  • Cores-and-Turrets Boss: Fortress, the midboss of Stage 6, is an arrangement of turrets guarding a central core. It is notably the only time in the game where the scrolling stops completely.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: You can adjust the autofire pattern and speed by manually tapping the fire button for two seconds, and can raise the rate of autofire this way. However, raising the autofire rate will multiply the rate at which rank increases and do so for the rest of the game, meaning that raising the autofire rate too high in the early game can spell disaster later on.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: In addition to the standard of creating a Shot Power-Up and Option icon when you die, small enemies are destroyed, big enemies and bosses take damage, all enemy bullets are cleared from the screen, and most importantly, Rank is alleviated.
  • Death Is the Only Option: Dying is the only way to lower the rank, and doing so multple times over the first five stages is necessary to keep the game from becoming Unintentionally Unwinnable in Stage 6.
  • Death or Glory Attack: Normally, the big bomb pickup (which grants a full bomb instead of 1/40 of it) is meant to be used as an incentive to continue. However, if you're close enough to the next point-based 1-up, you can deliberately burn your last life and use the sharpnel or a pre-deployed Gain or Bornham bomb to destroy enemies before the continue prompt (or Game Over, if continues are turned off) shows up to propel yourself past the extra life threshold and use your newly-earned life to pick up the bomb item on the same credit. This is a very difficult technique however.
  • Diesel Punk: The technology looks like it would have been around World War II level if it were not for the brothers' inventions.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Gain. His fast speed makes him a liability in thicker bullet patterns and his swords don't fire in the same way that other characters'/ships' option shots do. However, he has one of the best Smart Bombs in the game for utilizing scoring tricks (such as milking Stage 2's Flamingoes and Black Heart Mk. II's bombs) and his high speed also makes him an asset in that he's one of the best characters for chasing down medals.
  • Difficulty by Region: In addition to the larger number of points required to extend, rank (see below) increases at different rates depending on the region as well as the difficulty setting (U.S. "hard" is harder than Japan's "very hard", by the way). However, turning the extends off (which isn't possible in the Japan revision) will clamp rank to "manageable" and won't raise very much even if you collect everything and max out the autofire rate. Averted in Rev.2016, which is standardized across all regions to be based on the Japanese version.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: You need to die every now and then to lower the Dynamic Difficulty and prevent it from spiking to impossible levels in the later stages.
  • Dynamic Difficulty:
    • The Rank system determines how hard the game is. Firing and powering up the main weapon, as well as picking up various items, will increase your rank. The only way to decrease your rank is by dying. Thus, players are "forced" to keep themselves powered down, conserve shots, and die on purpose in order to keep the last few stages of the game playable. Notably, the variable used for rank in this game actually decreases in value as the game gets harder.
      Here's what it looks like when you effectively manage your rank. Here's what it looks like when you don't.

      The Rev.2016 ports allow the player to, as part of custom game modes, shut off the rank, fix it to stage-specific amounts, or, if you are near-inhumanly good or you hate yourself, lock it at 100%.
    • Done differently in Premium Arrange in Rev.2016. Rank is fixed for each stage, so none of the rank control methods are relevant here. However, should the conditions be met, the game will enter a max rank state, generating a ton more medals for the player in exchange for dramatically increased difficulty.
  • Easier Than Easy: Rev.2016 has the "Super Easy" mode, which sets the in-game difficulty to the easiest and turns off some of the more challenge-contributing features of the game, most notably the rank.
  • Eternal Engine: Stages 3 and 4.
  • Every 10,000 Points: By default, you get an extra life every one million points.
  • Excuse Plot: While the plot has a bit more depth to it than just "two lone pilots go up against an entire military", it's never mentioned within the game itself, not even in the Attract Mode.
  • Fake Difficulty: Real Is Brown is applied not only to the enemies and backdrops, but the bullets as well, which can make the bullets difficult to see. The Saturn version does have a "Red Ball" toggle to make some bullets glow brightly and make them more visible, and some regional builds of the game have this by default. Rev. 2016 has more options for bullet colors.
  • The Federation: Only in name, however. It's more of The Empire than anything.
  • Foreshadowing: The title of the Stage 1 music is "Fly to the Leaden Sky". Stage 5 is the leaden sky being referred to.
  • Game Mod: One of the most common ROM hacks involves displaying a rank counter below player 1's HUD.
  • Gatling Good: The Grasshopper's secondary weapon. The spent casings of the Vulcan will also damage anything behind it
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Miss a medal on accident, thus screwing up the chain and losing oh so many potential points? Many Manly Tears were had this way before. Restarting a chain ends up jacking up rank more than maintaining it on top of it.
  • Guest Fighter: The four main characters from Mahou Daisakusen are in the game.
  • Guide Dang It!: The exact workings of the rank system, the 'hidden' level of shot power (Get to the normal max, skip 5 small power ups, then get one), and the hidden option formations. this Thread mentions the details of all these things. The PS4 port has real-time widgets that alleviate the "how do I do these things" element of many of these mechanics.
  • Homage: The soundtrack is like a tribute to 90s techno music. For instance, listen to the Stage 2 music, "Underwater Rampart"; it sounds like "Jupiter Jazz" by Underground Resistance. The Stage 5 music, "Subversive Awareness", is inspired by "Subconscious Awareness" by Dan Curtin.
  • Kaizo Trap: Glow Squid's final phase.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The Flying Baron's secondary weapon.
  • Mercy Mode: The game's rank drops when — and only when — you die. As such, it is very important to score well to earn those extra lives, as you need them to keep the rank from reaching monstrous levels.
  • More Dakka: Again, the Grasshopper's secondary weapon.
  • Nintendo Hard: The Dynamic Difficulty that requires dying on purpose to reduce, the realistically-colored bullets, and many ways that enemy fire can corner you contribute to a very challenging game that can take months or even years to clear without continues.
  • Number of the Beast: Black Heart's identification number is G-616.
  • Palette Swap: Averted. Not only does pressing certain buttons or combining A+B+C together give you different colored planes, but they also get name changes and enhanced stats. For B it's an increase in speed, while C decreases the size of your hitbox. Pressing A+B+C gives you both.
  • Playing with Fire: The Silver Sword and Wild Snail use a napalm and fire secondary weapon, respectively.
  • Real Is Brown: A lot of the backgrounds are like this, which can be aggravating because of the gray bullets that you might not see until it's too late. Did we say gray bullets? There are also brown bullets. And lots and lots of shrapnel. They all look like each other (same color, y'see). The bullets are what'll kill you, though. Happy dodging!
    • (Note: there was, however, Battle Garegga - Type 2 version, which replaced a good many — but not all — of the "bullet" bullets with the more typical yellow circles).
  • Regional Bonus: Only the South Korean version of Rev.2016 has a physical release; all other regions have to make do with digital versions.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Bombing certain background objects will reveal score medals needed to raise your score and earn more lives.
  • Science Is Bad: The brothers ponder this in their endings in Armed Police Batrider.
  • Secret Character: The four character from Mahou Daisakusen — Gain, Chitta, Miyamoto, and Bornham — are available when you use the Konami Code at the title screen (except you press A, B, C before START). In the Saturn port, you simply enable them in the options menu without having to enter a code.
  • Smart Bomb: Instead of collecting one bomb icon for one bomb, you need to collect 40 icons to use a bomb at full power. Also, collecting at least one icon will let you use it, but it will only last for a very short time compared to the full power bomb, depending on how many icons were collected when used. Bombs are the only way to destroy non-enemy ground objects, many of which hide items including the ever-crucial medals.
  • Spent Shells Shower: And it causes damage.
  • Spiritual Successor: Battle Bakraid and Armed Police Batrider are this to Battle Garegga. Which itself was inspired by Taito's Gun Frontier; the Real Is Brown-style palette, realistic-style bullets, and mini-bomb power-ups were all drawn from there. Gun Frontier also had a rank system, but it was strictly based on how much you shot (the idea was to discourage firing when you had no reason to believe you'd hit something), and did not require getting yourself shot down if you wanted to 1CC the game. The rank system's true origins lie in Zanac, which involved Dynamic Difficulty much more prominently than Gun Frontier. The programmer, Shinobu Yagawa, would go on to do Ibara much later on.
  • Sublime Rhyme: The name of the sixth boss, Junky Monkey.
  • Super Prototype: The four available planes.
  • Taking You with Me: Upon dying, your ship explodes into shrapnel that can damage enemies. It is difficult, but very much possible, to lose your last life and immediately get an extra life if you're close enough to a 1-Up threshold; in fact, suiciding your last life only to get it back provides more rank decrease than dying with lives to spare.
  • Updated Re-release: Rev.2016 is a port that adds a slew of new features not found in the arcade version or even the earlier Saturn port, and with four different soundtracksnote .
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Wayne brothers were tricked into producing deadly military machines for the empire-in-all-but-name Federation to wage war with, which sets the stage for the game.
  • Victory Fakeout: Just when you think Glow Squid is defeated, complete with the background music fading out amidst the destruction, the cockpit detaches itself from the fuselage and starts to chaotically bounce all over the screen while spewing projectiles everywhere in a last-ditch attempt to stop you, while the music starts back up. It repeats this same feat when fought as a Bonus Boss in Armed Police Batrider.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Overlaps with Dynamic Difficulty. You have to die in order to keep the game to a manageable level, otherwise the last two stages turn into sheer bullet vomit. In other words, you die regularly so you don't die too much later. Not just that, you're encouraged to keep your life count low, as the rank decrease is greater if you die with fewer lives. On a smaller scale, you also need to skip powerup items routinely to avoid spiking the rank too much.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: Black Heart can use its twin engines' exhaust to trap or kill you.
  • A Winner Is You: Upon completing the game, you get a "COMPLETED!" message and you get a cutscene of the pilots flying home while the credits roll, but not really any closure to the game's plot.
  • Wraparound Background: Par for the course when it comes to midboss and endboss fights, but of note is Stage 7, which is set on an airport runway. It just keeps going on as you proceed through the main body of the stage and fight Black Heart mk2, only ending when you defeat it, almost as if you're not really on a runway so much as an urban-scale freeway.

Stab and Stomp!