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Video Game / Castle of Shikigami

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Castle of Shikigami (also known as Shikigami no Shiro in Japan) is a trilogy of arcade Bullet Hell shoot 'em ups developed by Alfa System. The overarching plot involves a mysterious castle in the country of Alcaland, which has been the subject of many "missing persons" cases. A handful of psychics have converged on the location to conduct their own investigations of the incident, each for his or her own reasons. The first game was released in 2001 in Japan, Castle of Shikigami II followed in 2003 and Castle of Shikigami III launched in 2006.

As of 2008, all three of the main games have been released in the U.S. for the PlayStation 2 (for the first two games) and Nintendo Wii (CoS III). Other ports on Sega Dreamcast (CoS II), Nintendo GameCube (CoS II), Xbox (CoS II), and Xbox 360 (CoS III) are also available, but only in Japan. The entire series also saw Japan-only PC ports. There was a Fan Translation in the works for the first game's PC port; however, in 2017, the first instalment of the series has been picked up by Degica Games for an overseas release on Steam. The second installment is planned for a December 2021 release, with a reworked translation as one of the main selling points, due to the original's infamy.

A Character Sheet is currently in the works.

This series uses the following tropes:

  • Battle Butler: Munchausen serves as Fumiko's butler, and in III, he proves just as capable in combat as his master.
  • Beehive Barrier: Most of the bosses in the third game is shrouded in one.
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT call Fumiko an "old maid".
  • Bittersweet Ending: Kohtaro's scenario in Castle of Shikigami III ends with him breaking down in tears over the apparent death of Tsukiko while Sayo comforts him.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The second game is filled with very odd examples of Engrish, to the point that an official re-release in 2021 has a new localization as one of its main selling points.
  • Bland-Name Product: Reika makes references to Varner Bros. and Trader Moe's in her scenario.
  • Bullet Hell: Enemies in these games are capable of filling the screen with lots and lots of bullets, even moreso in the harder difficulties.
  • The Cameo: Characters from the first two games appear in the third game's fanart gallery.
  • Canon Foreigner: Three characters made prior appearances in other games before their eventual introduction into Castle of Shinigami.
  • Characterization Marches On: Reika, in that she actually has character in her appearance in the third game; in Time Gal, she was just a blank slate. In Castle of Shikigami III, however, she is portrayed as ditzy and somewhat forgetful, yet still competent.
  • Charged Attack: Batu's Shikigami attacks.
  • Close-Contact Danger Benefit: The Tension Bullet System. When you get close to a bullet, the player character has a red outline. Doing so makes attacks more powerful and gives additional points.
  • Comforting the Widow: Kohtaro had a woman with whom he made a Childhood Marriage Promise, but who is now hospitalized. Sayo falls in love with Kohtaro. In the third game, that ex becomes the Big Bad. Or seemingly so, until you realize that all the bosses in the third game are illusions and not the real people.
  • Covers Always Lie: The "Mobile Light Force 2" U.S. cover of the first game features a trio of gunslinging Charlie's Angels lookalikes that appear absolutely nowhere in the game. It's also the exact same cover as the first Mobile Light Force game (which is actually Gunbird). It's all rather confusing.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Reika is certainly..."out there".
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Sayo becomes one in the third game, having merged with Kohtaro's guardian spirit.
  • Eldritch Abomination: What "Tsukiko" (actually an illusion) turns out to be in CoS III.
  • Epic Flail: Yukari uses one in the third game when she reaches her second lifebar. One made up of flowers that sprays bullets.
  • Fedora of Asskicking: Gennojo wears one.
  • Flanderization: In-Universe. Kohtaro's story mode in Shikigami No Shiro III involves the uneasy grounds of Kohtaro's and Sayo's partnership, with the underlying tension of undisclosed feelings; Sayo being a Tsundere (while also feeling guilty about this) with Kohtaro constantly apologizing. Come Dramatic Change Mode, many stories where Kohtaro is one of the two selected characters involve this dynamic in a rather one-dimensional way that varies from scenario to scenario (i.e., Sayo is turned into a Clingy Jealous Girl in some, in others, Kohtaro is almost completely Oblivious to Love, etc.).
  • Gameplay Grading: You're graded twice through out stage in for the first two games, one for the first half of the stage and the other in the second half. In the first game, you're graded by how fast you beaten the level, the point items collected, and your overall Tension average. The second game changes the Tension average with how many x8 multipliers you where able to get. The third game changes things up where you are graded at the end of the stage instead of its two halves, adding a bonus for beating the bosses with x8 bonus as well as penalties for losing lives and using continues.
  • Head Pet: Nagino's bunny.
  • The Hero: Officially, Kohtaro Kuga is the main protagonist in every installment, though Reika and Nagino are more prominent on the third game's cover art.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Despite how large your character sprite/model may appear, their hitbox is the tiny light that shines in the middle of their body when enemy fire or an obstacle is nearby.
  • Hot Witch: Fumiko, complete with Robe and Wizard Hat.
  • Kill Sat: Fumiko and Munchausen have Shikigami attacks that rain down lasers from above that leave behind Spheres of Destruction.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Munchausen. When you can see his eyes, RUN.
    Munchausen: "I shall educate you. Prepare yourself."
  • Life Meter: Bosses in the series have the typical gauge-type life meter, often divided for each of their phases.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: Castle of Shikigami III's ending.
  • McNinja: Roger is an American that spent time in Japan and dresses like a stereotypical Ninja, but still talks like an patriotic American.
  • Medium Awareness: Almost everyone makes a remark at some point that shows they know they're in a video game. For example, in the third game, Fumiko openly mocks Yukari for getting excited about being back for the third game while she doesn't appear to realize that she's been demoted from Stage 4 to Stage 1.
  • Nerd Glasses: Munchausen's specs.
  • Nintendo Hard: Par for the genre.
  • No Fourth Wall: The third game, in which everyone seems to know that they're in a video game.
  • One Game for the Price of Two: Shikigami no Shiro Evolution, the Japan-only Xbox Updated Re-release of the first game, which has two different versions. The Red version has a gallery with datable on the characters, unused character voices, and trailers, while the Blue version has developer videos. Both versions however have better enemy A.I., TATE display mode, and a new Evolution Mode in the game.
  • The Paralyzer: Shikou's second attack pattern, in addition to the Power Nullifier arrows above, also shoots arrows that slow you down.
  • Parrot Pet Position: Nigi's cat.
  • Physical God: Gennojo and Kagachi.
  • Pinball Scoring: This series loves points with lots of zeros in them.
  • Power Nullifier: Shikou (second boss, third game) shoots arrows that temporarily seal normal firenote  during his second attack phase.
  • Power-Up: Collecting coins (without dying) in the first game powers up your character's attacks up to Lv.3 . The coins are still present in later installments, but don't provide power-up bonuses (your character's attacks are already at Lv.3).
  • The Power of the Sun: Freedom Wind and the two bosses after her launch volleys of fireballs that look like miniature suns.
  • Psychic Powers: The justification for most characters' combat abilities is that they're tapping into these, many with help from a Shikigami.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: From the third game:
    Yukari: "Yukari Horiguchi! Yu-ka-ri!"
  • Rank Inflation: In the third game, you're graded by your performance, with F- being the lowest and SS being the highest. At the end of the game (or where you decide to give up), you're given a rank on your overall performance and a title to go with it.
  • Scoring Points: As a series of shoot 'em ups, you know what to expect. The series' central scoring mechanic is the Tension Bonus System (or TBS for short) players receives when their character is dangerously close to enemy fire or obstacle, going from x2 to x8. The higher the Tension, the more points the coins dropped by enemies are worth. Defeating enemies with Shikigami attacks causes much more coins to be released and they will be automatically collected to the player. At the end of each stage section (or the stage altogether in the third game), you're graded by your performance and you gain bonus points based on how well you do in the stage.
  • Shout-Out: Both Fumiko and Sayo resemble Marisa and Reimu of Touhou Project, particularly their PC-98 designs. In those games, Reimu wore more traditional shrine maiden garb and Marisa in her very first appearance was a redhead with a purple outfit.
    • In the third game, Nagino's backpack has Bub from Bubble Bobble.
  • Smart Bomb: Nearly every character has this in some form, which clears the screen of bullets and/or renders the player invulnerable while it's in effect.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Gennojo.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Of space.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: In the first game, many of the characters and enemies are 2D sprites while scenery and some of the other enemies are rendered in 3D polygonal models.
  • The Stoic: Emilio, a very young nobleman that seemingly takes everything in stride despite his impending demise.
  • Third-Person Person: Reika in the third game.
  • Time Police: Reika. Again, a callback to her Time Gal roots.
  • Turns Red: Mini-bosses and stage bosses alike have at least three attack patterns, depending on how much HP they have remaining. From the second game onwards, their life meter is partitioned according to each segment.
  • Tyke-Bomb: Nagino is an elementary school student that's actually the reincarnation of a god, inheriting powers over time as well as strong Psychic Powers for combat.
  • The Vamp / Villain Protagonist: Fumiko. According to the manual, she's said to be as evil, if not more so, than the game's Big Bad. Her lines in games reflect this as she speaks of things like world domination.
  • Video-Game Lives: By default you have three per credit.

Alternative Title(s): Shikigami No Shiro, Castle Shikigami