Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / ESP Ra.De.

Go To

"The power of ESP: one who has the power is destined for tragedy. What are we fighting for? We cannot even find the answer, but we keep on running... because of this ability we have."
Stage complete text

ESP Ra.De is a Bullet Hell Shoot 'Em Up by CAVE and published by Atlus with artwork by "Joker" Junya Inoue. Garra Ono, a powerful psychic woman who leads the organization known as Yaksa, is using her resources to take over the world. This ends up drawing attention from the three psychic heroes, each of whom has their own reason for opposing her:

  • Yusuke Sagami: This high schooler had latent abilities since he was seven years old and had been hiding them for a while. Then the Yaksa came in, dragged one of his friends out onto the roof of his school, and slit his throat to make a point. Yusuke got so angry that he unleashed his full psychic potential.
  • J-B 5th: Also known as the "Black Peter Pan," this Russian assassin was raised from an early age to develop his psychic powers. He is now tasked with assassinating Ms. Garra and will do whatever it takes to complete the mission.
  • Irori Mimasaka: She was an orphan who was barely aware of her abilities when the Yaksa decided to launch a barrage of missiles at her orphanage. She was able to shield another person from one of the missiles, and set off to find out what was going on.

One gameplay mechanic, the theme of superpowered people flying around and blasting stuff with Psychic Powers, and the Alice Clones were carried over to the Espgaluda series.

In 2019, 21 years after the game's arcade release, it finally got a port, ESP Ra.De Ψnote , released as part of the M2 ShotTriggers series of ports on Play Station 4 and Nintendo Switch in Japan. It adds a variety of new features, such as a rebalanced "Arcade Plus" mode, new voice tracks, multiple practice modes, and an arranged soundtrack. The Switch version in particular marks the first time that a CAVE game has been ported to a Nintendo platform.note 

ESP Ra.De contains examples of:

  • 1-Up: By default, you get one at 4,000,000 points and another at 8,000,000 points. Additionally, on Stage 4 there's also a 1-up token on an oncoming express train, and you can destroy it by mistake if you fire your Guard Barrier at it.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The Psi Updated Re-release has Arcade Plus mode, which among other things features a complete overhaul of the game's voiced dialogue, adding more lines.
  • Alice Allusion: The Alice Clones. One piece of artwork has the line of text, "Alice in Fear land."
  • All There in the Manual: Has a surprisingly deep backstory and characterizations, for an arcade shooter. You can catch some glimpses of it from the newspaper clippings that fly by.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The original game has a problem where the hitbox does not alway line up up with the sprite's center, with the character's sprite often shifting around causing the hitbox to be on either shoulder instead. Psi adds a visible hitbox display that can be toggled on in all modes and which does not disqualify scores from the online leaderboards.
  • Anti-Grinding:
    • During the Stage 5 midboss, an endless wave of assault vehicles show up to support the boss's firepower, however they award no points.
    • In the Arcade Plus mode in Psi during boss fights, Power Shot will only award points if the explosions land on two or more targets/parts of the boss, and boss timers are shorter (but still allow the average player to defeat the boss).
  • Anti-Hero: J-B 5th introduces himself by crashing a press conference, stomping a table, killing an important person, and wrecking a shopping mall.
  • Arrange Mode:
    • Irori's Room in Psi has a few variants of the main game, which do things like give you extra stats based on your pet levels, make your Power Shot cancel enemy bullets, or lock the multiplier at x16.
    • Like in previous M2 ShotTriggers releases, Psi has Custom mode, which allows you to fine-tune the game's various mechanics to your liking (such as auto-bomb, the amount of chips needed to activate Energy Up mode and the increase in chip quota for subsequent activations, shot power, etc.)
    • Psi also has Arcade Plus, which is mostly the same game as before, but with redone voice lines, changes to scoring mechanics and boss timers to Nerf milking bosses for points, and a new Final Boss after Ms. Garra, Alice Master.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: In the ending of Yusuke's storyline, the spirit of Yusuke's murdered friend flies to heaven since his death was avenged (by Yusuke killing the person responsible for killing said friend, and the person responsible for ordering the attack that led to Yusuke's friend being murdered).
  • An Asskicking Christmas: The games take place on Christmas 2018, as evidenced by the Christmas trees in J-B's intro. If you enable the stage progress M2 Gadget in the PS4 and Switch ports, you can see that the game starts on December 24, and after completing the Shopping Mall stage the rest of the game takes place on Christmas Day itself.
  • Arc Symbol: The open-palm silhouette is a recurring symbol throughout the game; the game logo is backed by it and the humanoid enemies often attack with palm-shaped bullets.
  • Badass Adorable: Irori is the youngest of the playable characters and by far the sweetest (her intro has her defending an innocent bystander from an incoming missile!), yet like the other three playable characters she's a One-Girl Army.
  • Barrier Warrior: In Irori's storyline, she protects her friend in an orphanage from a missile barrage by using her psychic powers to shield them both. At the same time, the guard barrier mechanic allows all three playable characters to shield themselves before launching a super attack.
  • Battle Theme Music: The game has "Raging Deicide", a track that plays for every boss, even the Final Boss. The Updated Re-release, ESP Ra.De. Psi, has a remix soundtrack that, among other things, gives every boss a unique remix of "Raging Deicide", with the new Final Boss Alice Master getting an entirely new theme that progresses as the player moves from one phase of her fight to the next.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Irori's intro has missiles descending on her orphanage, with her friend tripping and curling into a fetal position as a bomb drops directly on her... then the dust clears to show Irori shielding her, then taking off to fight.
  • Bittersweet Ending: J-B 5th's ending shows that he will never be free of the police trying to capture him, and thus he will have to blow them up for the rest of his life. In Yusuke's ending, he's gotten his revenge, but his friend is still dead. Then there's the hidden ending for Irori, where she dies due to the bystander (who otherwise saves her if the player does not make any button input during the ending) ignoring her. Only Alice Master has an unambiguously happy ending.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: The Alice Clones. On the other hand, considering what the original Alice did to herself, it may be that they don't even have eyes, and those black blanks are just empty cauterized sockets.
  • Bonus Feature Failure:
    • Psi features the Irori's Room mode, where you can decorate the rooms of and dress up the three ESPers, as well as take part in bite-size missions involving playing the game itself. Unfortunately, going into Irori's Room will force landscape orientation if you were using portrait orientation in the other modes, meaning that if you were playing the other modes in portrait, you'll have to turn your TV back for this mode. Furthermore, going into this room resets your screen configuration for the other modes, forcing you to set them again when you go back into those modes.
    • Psi's Arcade Osarai mode has you practicing sections you recently died at (similar to Ketsui Deathtiny's Bonds of Growth mode). However, it only applies to deaths incurred in Arcade mode; deaths in Arcade Plus mode (with the rebalanced scoring and the new Final Boss) are not used in this mode.
  • Boss Bonanza: Psi makes you fight three bosses in a row at the end: The head of the Ares statue, Ms. Garra, (the first two are also in the original) and Alice Master.
  • Bullet Hell: What this game is.
  • Charge Attack: The guard barrier can be charged for great effect. It will continue protecting the user for as long as the button is held down, and the longer the charge the more powerful the beam.
  • Code Name: JB-5th's alias is "Black Peter Pan".
  • Creepy Child: The Alice Clones. They have blank, black eyes and appear to do nothing but eat, wear dresses, and shoot at the player characters with their Psychic Powers. They make truly horrifying noises when killed.
  • Defeat Means Playable: Psi and its new Arcade+, Super Easy, and Custom modes give you the Alice Master as a new Final Boss. Beating her for the first time makes her playable as a fourth character. You can unlock her in Irori's Room as well by beating her Story segment, however you still have to 1CC the game on any of the other modes to unlock her for them.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: The game takes place around Christmas as evidenced by the Christmas trees in the Shopping Mall stage (and you only see them if you play as J-B 5th or Alice Master) and the stage progress M2 Gadget in the Psi Updated Re-release confirms that the game takes place on December 24-25. However Christmas never really factors into the original release. That said, one of the promotional artwork for Psi features the protagonists gathering around to open Christmas presents, and the Irori's Room mode in Psi features a holiday-themed medley of the game's music as well as many decorations for the characters' rooms, including Christmas decorations.
  • Difficulty Levels: In addition to the standard difficulty levels that adjust bullet speed and density, the story challenges in Irori's Room have four difficulty modes: Super Easy (enemies have very weak attacks, you automatically fire your Guard Barrier if hit), Pet Support (you gain stat buffs based on your pet levels, and you again have Auto Barrier), No Pet Support (normal play), and No Barrier (same as previous, but Guard Barrier is disabled).
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: If you play through the entire game without ever firing your Guard Barrier, you'll get a slightly reduced end-of-game chip bonus since you start with a chip capacity of 200 and you have to activate the Energy Up mode (by firing your Barrier when you have a full chip stock) to increase the capacity (by 100 every time, up to 500). Thus to get the maximum chip bonus you have to use your Barrier at least three times.
  • The Dragon: Satoru Oumi, who also has dragon wings and wears armor meant to look like a dragon.
  • Driven to Suicide: The original Alice, some time before Yaksa ends up on the loose.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: J-B 5th, who is slender and more feminine compared to Yusuke's and his outfit would be something a girl would wear. He also wears eyeliner.
  • Every 10,000 Points: You earn an extra life at 4 million points and again at 8 million.
  • Eye Scream: The original Alice, implied to be another product of the same project that made J-B an esper, apparently did this to herself before Garra took her in.
  • Final Boss: Ms. Garra in the original version of the game. Psi adds a new boss after her, Alice Master. A harder, True Final Boss version of her can be fought if certain conditions are met.
  • Flight: Presumably the three playable characters are capable of levitating themselves with Psychic Powers. How else are they able to fly around and shoot things?
  • Guide Dang It!: In Irori's ending, the girl herself had collapsed into the snow while a bystander passes by. To ensure she, at least, is given a happy ending (and survive) a button prompt is needed while said bystander is observing her. The game doesn't tell you how.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: The Alice clones are hybrid mice. They squeak when they die, and it is not cute at all.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Seems a bit of a stretch to call JB-5th a "hero" since he's an assassin, but he's dedicated to stopping Ms. Garra as much as the other two playable characters are. His assassination of an important figure secretly connected to Ms. Garra attracts the police, and while he's able to stop Ms. Garra and her Yaksa organization, he is forced to go on the run for the rest of his life.
  • High-Pressure Blood: All psychic enemies let out a lot of blood when killed, especially Satoru Oumi and Ms. Garra. Averted with the regular soldiers where they only let out a small amount of blood and their body is left intact when killed.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: While this game does have the series-standard "hitbox is a small area on your sprite" trope, your character tends to shift around a bit relative to your hitbox when moving, which can cause some unexpected deaths here and there. Thankfully, Psi has the option to enable a visible hitbox display.
  • Humongous Mecha: Pleiades, the boss of stage 4.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: The M2STG ports feature one as part of the optional M2 Gadgets, showing the location, date and time, and the weather conditions. However, this is strictly cosmetic; it serves no gameplay purpose.
  • Kid Hero: None of the three protagonists (four in Psi) are adults by most countries' legal definition of the word. The oldest is Yusuke at 17 and the youngest is Irori at 11.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: J-B 5th was brainwashed and had memories erased so that he would be a cold, efficient killing machine.
  • Last Lousy Point: In Psi, for each character, it's the Gold Medal for the All Stage Play challenge. Gold Medals in each challenge require completing the segment without getting hit. Yes, for All Stage Play that means play the entire game without getting hit at all. And you have to do this three times, one for each characternote , if you want a full Gold collection. Good luck!
  • Limit Break: When you collect a set number of yen cubes, your cube counter starts to decrease and while it does, enemies will drop Energy Up items instead of the usual cubes, allowing you to recharge your Smart Bomb. Once you run out of cubes, item drops go back to normal and the next threshold for activating this is increased by 100 (so if you collected 200 cubes to activate this mode, now you need to collect 300 more, etc).
  • Little Miss Badass: Irori, the youngest of the three playable characters, is a powerful psychic capable of laying waste to every single enemy onscreen.
  • Magical Girl: Irori Mimasaka, complete with upbeat theme song.
  • Masculine, Feminine, Androgyne Trio: The (initial) three protagonists, Yusuke, Irori and JB respectively.
  • Mecha-Mooks: Alongside flesh and blood psychics and regular soldiers, and manned vehicles. Smaller drones, both air and ground variants, are deployed by Yaksa.
  • Meaningful Name: "Yaksa" are quasi-demonic entities from Hindu lore (not as bad as rakshasi, but still not fun to be around when they're mad), better known in Japan as yasha. Garra convened this lot to take vengeance on the world that would not judge the espers who killed her husband.
  • Mighty Glacier: In Psi, the unlockable player character Alice has the highest damage output of the four, but she also has the slowest movement speed.
  • Mirror Match: The Final Boss of the Psi-exclusive modes is Alice Master, even if you're already playing as her.
  • Monumental Damage: No real monuments are involved, but Ms. Garra does pull up the head of a gigantic Artemis statue that fills up most of the screen. To use as a warm-up weapon while she relaxes.
  • Neck Snap: Yusuke's intro consists of him running into a school roof only for Yaksa cronies to snap his classmate's neck, killing him.
  • Nerf: Boss milking strategies got cut down in the Arcade Plus mode in Psi. Boss timers are shorter and now you can only get points off of power shots if they hit two or more targets at once.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: This 1998 game takes place in 2018, and the only real indication that it could be the future is the presence of the Yaksa war machines. However, as of the M2 ShotTriggers ports, which were released in 2019, it's now 20 Minutes into the Past.
  • No-Sell: The True Final Boss version of Alice Master puts up a shield if you fire your Guard Barrier.
  • Not Drawn to Scale: When destroying a hoverbike, the soldier riding it will plummet down to its doom and on to the concrete. However, the rider's corpse is smaller than the on-foot soldiers. This is most noticeable in "Bay Area" where both the soldiers and the hoverbikes are encountered at the same time.
  • Odd Name Out: In the original version, J-B 5th is the only human character with a non-Japanese name (the others being Yusuke Sagami, Irori Mimasaka, Satoru Oumi, and Garra Ono); this is explained in that he's Russian rather than Japanese. Averted in Psi, which features another character with a non-Japanese name, Alice Master.
  • Parental Abandonment: Yusuke's parents died shortly after the awakening of his psychic powers when he was seven. Irori's parents were killed by Garra.
  • Playing with Fire: Yusuke shoots at his enemies with continuous beams of fire.
  • Psychic Powers: Both the three (four in the remaster) player characters and the enemies have psychic powers.
  • Recursive Reality: A special holiday edition box art for Psi features the four protagonists gathered around and looking at components of the limited edition of the game, with Yusuke playing the game on a TV behind them. In Irori's Room mode, an ESP Ra.De. cabinet is among the many decorations you can get from the gacha.
  • Replicant Snatching: Ms. Garra's plan is to replace everyone with Alice Clones.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Yusuke's storyline can be basically summed up as this trope, given that it all started when one of Ms. Garra's men was responsible for his friend's death. When he sees the man responsible (Satoru Oumi) doing the deed, Yusuke's Psychic Powers fully awaken and he proceeds to destroy everything in sight.
    Yusuke: Satoru! (One of the Yaksa goons kills Yusuke's classmate with a Neck Snap) What the hell are you doing?!
  • RPG Elements: In Psi, the version-exclusive Irori's Room has a "Pet Support" mechanic available in some challenges. Pet Support gives your character stat boosts based on the levels of their pets, which can be increased by feeding those pets.
  • Score Multiplier: Activated by firing your Power Shot at an enemy, which creates little explosions that linger for about a second, and then destroying the enemy with your main shot while those explosions still persist. The multiplier can go up to x16 depending on how many of these explosions are on the enemy when it's destroyed, and once the multiplier starts it will wear off after a few seconds, although it can be extended by collecting "円" chips.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Ms. Garra spends most of her time casually lounging while watching the heroes battle her minions and weapons.
  • Smart Bomb: This game features a bomb meter, rather than a more conventional discrete stock. Called "Guard Barrier" in this game, firing it causes a shield to form around your character, turning bullets into powerup tokens (or yen cubes if you are at max power) before launching a quartet of beams up the screen. Holding down the Barrier button will charge up the laser and continue to convert bullets into items as long as the button is held, at the expense of using more of the Barrier meter.
  • Snow Means Death: In the final boss battle with Ms. Garra, it's snowing, and Ms. Garra is defeated and killed by the player character. Meanwhile, all three of the playable characters' endings have snow falling, and every time, someone dies. Yusuke's ending has him carrying Ms. Garra's body and gently laying her on the ground, while his murdered friend's spirit ascends to heaven. JB-5th's ending has him murdering a group of police officers who were chasing him for his crime of assassinating an important person. It's narrowly averted in Irori's normal ending where a bystander saves her from freezing to death, but it's played straight with the hidden ending, with Irori collapsing from her battle with Ms. Garra and freezing to death while the same bystander ignores her.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • In Psi, the Drive Waves 2019 version of the soundtrack has a happy hardcore arrangement of the boss theme, which plays when fighting Satoru in the Houoh High School stage. Yes, it plays even if you're playing as Yusuke, whose best friend had been killed by Satoru at the start of the stage.
    • Alice Master has a pretty soothing, wintery theme for her first. Once you get to phase 2, the music evolves into a much more intense piece.
  • Spider Tank: Miyabi, the mid-boss of the high school stage, is the biggest one. And there are a number of smaller ones as well.
  • Spread Shot:
    • J-B 5th fires his shots in a three-way spread that expands to five directions by the time he's fully powered.
    • Alice Master in Psi initially fires her shots straight ahead, and gradually spreads out her firing pattern until it's even wider than J-B's. Firing her Power Shot will reset the spread of her main shot.
  • Stationary Boss: The Stage 5 midboss is a pair of Yaksa members who raise a barrier that you have to destroy, flanked by two turrets providing support fire, and backed up by waves upon waves of mooks.
  • Storming the Castle: Stage 5B has you entering the Yaksa headquarters and destroying Ms. Garra's last line of defense before exiting out the back terrace to take on the woman herself.
  • Story Branching: The first stage is determined by which character you pick; Yusuke starts at Houou High School, J-B 5th starts at Shopping Mall at Night, and Irori starts at Bay Area. After the first stage, you go through the remaining two of those stages, with the order decided by which button you use to pick your character; shot randomly picks between the two, power shot gives you "Route B", and Guard Barrier gives you "Route C". Also, the difficulty of the stages and bosses is based on when you encounter them; for example, since Yusuke goes through the High School first, he has the easiest variant of it with Satoru having 3 lifebars, while the other two non-secret versions will play harder versions, with the hardest variant featuring a 5-lifebar Satoru being used if the player saves it for the last of the initial three stages. Alice Master in Psi can freely pick the order of all three stages. The stage order also dictates when the stages take place; the game takes place on December 24 until you play through the Shopping Mall, and after that stage the calendar rolls over to December 25.
  • Story Breadcrumbs: The newspaper headlines that flash by between levels.
  • Take Over the World: Ms. Garra's goal.
  • Tank Goodness: Izuna, the boss of the shopping mall stage, is the biggest one. And there are many smaller tanks that can also be seen in various places.
  • Traintop Battle: Stage 4, the Wangan Subway. You fly through a subway tunnel and some of the enemies attack from on top of train cars, or are trains.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Yusuke's power had already awoken when he was seven, but he kept it hidden. It wasn't until seeing his best friend be murdered by Satoru Oumi in front of him that his power manifested fully.
  • True Final Boss: Averted in the original game; regardless of performacne Ms. Garra is the Final Boss. In Psi, a special version of Alice Master can be fought if you clear the game with 2 deaths or less, enhancing all of her attacks and giving her an anti-bomb shield.
  • Twisted Christmas: The game takes place on Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day. Over the course of these two days, Yusuke's friend is killed in front of him and should the player unlock the hidden ending for Irori, she dies in the snow after her fight with Ms. Garra.
  • Tyke-Bomb: JB-5th had to go through brainwashing and memory-wiping in order to become an assassin for the Russian government at a young age.
  • Updated Re Release: ESP:Ra.De. Psi, a remastered version of the same game by M2. Added a Version-Exclusive Content in a form of Virtual Paper Doll and An Interior Designer Is You called “Irori’s Room” (いろりの部屋), where players can customize rooms and costumes for Irori, Yuusuke and JB, which they can get more furniture items by accomplishing certain missions to get in-game currency to buy them. This version has an exclusive mode, Arcade Plus, which is largely the same but with redone voice acting and considerably more lines, as well as a new Final Boss, Alice Master. Finally it features a couple of practice modes: Arcade Challenge has you completing sections with as few deaths as possible, putting you into a training mode every time you get killed, and Arcade Osarai ("osarai" meaning "review"), where you replay parts of Arcade Mode you recently died in and try to redo them without the same mistake.
  • Wicked Cultured: Ms. Garra is very well-dressed and has a nice mansion.
  • Younger Than They Look: Ms. Garra. She looks like she's in her 60s, but she's actually in her early 40s. This is because she's been horribly overexerting her body with far more constant psionic activity than can hope to be good.
  • Zerg Rush: A massive horde of Alice clones appear in the second half of Stage 5. A single one isn't a major threat by herself, but here you're greeted with a screenful of them, making it an extremely dangerous part of the game.

"Protect the world, even if the future of the world is uncertain."