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Video Game / Judgement Silversword

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Judgement Silversword is a Vertical Scrolling Shooter developed by M-KAI for the WonderSwan Color handheld system and released in 2004. It is notable for being one of the first Bullet Hell games to be put on a portable platform. The game travels from Earth to an alien planet across 32 stages, with stages ranging anywhere between 10 seconds to 2 minutes, and are occasionally punctuated with Boss Battles.

A Gaiden Game, Cardinal Sins: Judgement Silversword Recycle Edition was released for free by the same authornote . Instead of having traditional stage design, the player goes through 7 stages, each of which bear very different objectives (i.e. destroying all enemies, collecting extends, collecting medals).

Both games were re-released in 2011 for the Xbox 360 as part of a bundle with Judgement Silversword's spiritual sequel, Eschatos. A PC version of both was released in September 18, 2015 through Steam, and can be purchased separately or together with Eschatos; this version has JSS rebranded as Judgement Silverwird -Rebirth Edition- and features new music tracks. Another port of both games for Nintendo Switch was released in Japan on November 18, 2021 as part of the Eschatos rerelease on the same platform, with a PlayStation 4 version and international releases of both to come at later dates. Notably, it retains the English language option even in the Japanese release, but with some differences in text.


  • A Winner Is You: The standard ending of Cardinal Sins simply thanks you for playing. Averted if you meet the requirements for the final stage.
  • Auto-Revive: If you lose your last life, but there is a 1-up on the screen, the 1-up floats onto your ship's spawn point and becomes your next life.
  • BFS: Mitsurugi bears one. When it comes back in later stages, it gets a bigger sword. The sword itself is also the True Final Boss.
  • Big "NO!": Shooting a 1-Up in CS's Sloth stage results in a textual form of this.
  • Boss-Only Level: The 31st and final area is nothing but a back-to-back gauntlet of bosses: Divine Expression, Mitsurugi Rebirth, and the Final Boss, Judgement Silversword.
  • Boss Rush: JSS's Special mode features the bosses of the game back-to-back, culminating in the new boss E3 at the end.
  • Boss Warning Siren:
    • And in Special mode: "WARNING - HERE COMES THE FINAL JUDGE! [ E3 ]"
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Killing the Final Boss of JSS's Special mode nets you a 3-up. Considering you just finished Special mode, you don't really need any more lives. Though they do contribute to the massive game clear bonus, which is based on remaining lives.
  • Bullet Hell: On a handheld, no less.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: In CS, if you run out of lives on a given stage, you are allowed to progress to the next one, but you won't get any bonus points. Subverted in that this locks you out of the Pluto stage. Averted in the Pluto stage itself and during the True Final Boss, where you simply get a Game Over.
  • Dual Boss: Area 27 has you fight Mirror Shields Rah and Roh at the same time.
  • Easier Than Easy: Training mode in JSS. Which you have to unlock.
  • Every 10,000 Points: Getting a 1-Up works in a strange form of this trope. Every target destroyed increases a counter, and when the counter hits a hidden threshold, a 1-up appears out of the next target to be destroyed. Now here's the kicker: If you die, the counter also increases! This means it's common for a player to die and get a 1-up as a result.
  • Freeware Game: Technically, Cardinal Sins is one, since the game is available right off of the developer's website for download. The catch is that it is not in a form that can be played on emulators and if you live outside of Japan, you probably won't be able to buy a WonderSwan easily.
  • Gainax Ending: After defeating the Mirror in CS, a monologue (in flawless English, even) scrolls and states that the apocalypse has been brought and the Seven Deadly Sins have been brought upon humanity. Did you cause it? Were you trying to prevent it and failed? We may never know.
  • Gameplay Grading: Cardinal Sins grades on each stage.
  • Gameplay Roulette: Cardinal Sins.
  • Guide Dang It!: Most of the scans in the Venus stage of Cardinal Sins are quite straightforward—cancel bullets, shoot enemies before they can escape, evade enemy attacks, etc. Even the hidden 'B' icon can be stumbled upon by accident by constantly firing throughout the stage. (Your bullets will seem to disappear when they hit where the icon is; keep shooting at that spot and it'll show up.) But how is anyone supposed to know that scan #00 requires you to move to the lower-right corner and use your shield right as the stage begins?
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The final boss is the sword that Mitsurugi wields on the rematch.
  • Homing Lasers: Many enemies will fire them. Expect these to give you a harder time than the bullet barrages.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Your ship has a shield that can be used to slow down and cancel bullets, though holding it up doesn't guarantee safety. Moreover, as it touches bullets, it weakens and shrinks; if your shield gauge hits 0%, it shatters.
  • Mercy Mode: The game tends to give out more 1-ups if you keep dying.note 
  • Multiple Endings: If you fail one or more stages in Cardinal Sins, once the game shows your grades and overall grade, the game ends with a "Thank you for playing" message. However, if you unlock the True Final Boss and defeat it, you get a much darker ending that hints at an apocalypse.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The penultimate boss of JSS, Mitsurugi Rebirth, has an attack that doesn't kill you immediately. No, what it does is pin you to the center of the screen to allow Mitsurugi to charge up a swing, summon Michaelangelo's Final Judgement in the background, and THEN kill you.
  • Musical Nod: In the PC port of JSS, BGM 02 and BGM 02B are replaced by demakes of "Survive" from Eschatos, which itself is an extended arrange of these two tracks.
  • Nerf: CS slightly nerfs the Spread Shot by limiting its range.
  • 1-Up: Rather frequently in JSS.
    • At the end of JSS's Special Mode, after defeating its Final Boss, you get a 3-up, even though lives are no longer necessary at this point.
    • In CS, one stage has you collect as many of them as you can (without shooting them), and during the Pluto stage, you get a number of them equal to how many grades below A you got.
  • Rank Inflation: In Cardinal Sins, the maximum scan percentage you can get on the Venus stage is 103.2%.
  • Scoring Points: Points you score at the end of each run double as experience points for your "Option Level". As you increase your Option Level, you unlock new features.
  • Sequel Hook: The true ending text of CS alludes to a greater conflict on the horizon and ends with To Be Continued, but no sequel of the game was ever published. While there is a line of Spiritual SuccessorsEschatos, Ginga Force, and Ginga Force's spinoff Natsuki Chronicles — none of them are connected by lore to Cardinal Sins.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: The theme of Cardinal Sins's stage names.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In Cardinal Sins, the theme for the True Final Boss is a dramatic, but nevertheless slow-paced theme with what sounds like an 8-bit violin.
  • Spread Shot: One of your three available weapons.
  • Stylistic Suck / Retraux / Deliberately Monochrome: During the True Final Boss of CS, if you did well enough in the main game to unlock its extra forms, the background will turn white, then the entire game turns monochrome, and finally just simple black and white colors.
  • Title Drop:
    • The final boss of JSS is called the Judgement Silversword
    • The final boss of Cardinal Sins is called the Mirror of Cardinal Sins.
  • True Final Boss: Perform well enough in the main stages of CS and you're treated to the true last stage, Pluto, where you can rack up bonus points and extra lives, before facing off against the last boss, the Mirror of Cardinal Sins. The Mirror itself has True Final Forms, the appearances of which are dependent upon your overall grade. Fighting all of the Mirror's forms requires an overall rank of S- or greater in the first seven stages.
  • Try Not to Die; The final standard stage of CS, Wrath, simply states as its objective: "Don't die." (Your grade is inversely proportional to the number of times you do.)
  • What the Hell, Player?: In the second stage of Cardinal Sins, Sloth, you must "rescue" 1-ups. Unlike in JSS, you can shoot them and destroy them. Doing so will result in a "NO!" message.