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Video Game / Ketsui

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Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi is a Vertical Scrolling Shooter by Cave released for arcades in 2003, and then later ported to the Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 in Japan. M2 later released an Updated Re-release, titled "Ketsui Deathtiny", as part of the M2 Shottriggers series of ports on November 29, 2018 for the PlayStation 4. Again, only in Japan. Its title roughly translates to "Decisive Determination: Cutting the Bonds of Hell."

In the year 2054, chaos grips the world as global climate shift has melted the ice caps, raised sea levels, and intensified natural disasters. With many nations consumed by the destruction, the sudden end of means to acquire all resources force the countries that remained intact, into World War III. Any attempt to cease hostilities by the United Nations is thwarted by an endless supply of technologically advanced weapons sold to both sides of every possible conflict. Investigations by UN are all traced to EVAC Industries, a weapon manufacturer and arms dealer that has been reaping tremendously high profits from the constant warfare. EVAC has even been known to directly intervene to prevent any progress towards peace. The company's profits are so massive, it has built its own cities, shipyards, defensive emplacements and even a private airport, in addition to assemble its own private army of well-equipped mercenaries. All attempts to negotiate with the board of directors have failed.

Unable to perform any official actions, UN sets up a strike team of four pilots, each pair given one of two advanced helicopters which were built according to stolen prototype blueprints and bear EVAC insignias and callsigns. Their mission is to stimulate a rebellion within EVAC's forces and destroy the company's headquarters where their most powerful weapons are being made. The mission cannot be traced back to UN, regardless of the outcome. Even if the mission is a success, both the helicopters and the pilots must be destroyed. To compensate for their sacrifice however, UN will fulfill their dying wishes.

Tropes used in Ketsui

  • Arrange Mode:
    • In the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 ports, there is a new X-Mode, which makes small "popcorn" enemies not give chips until they are "activated" by the death of a medium-sized enemy, which also converts their bullets into chips.
    • In the M2 Shottriggers Updated Re-release, there is the "Deathtiny" mode, which makes chips give no multiplier, but in exchange, power the new "Deathtroy" Super Mode, which cancels all bullets, increases firepower, and makes the chips contribute to score. Activating the "Deathtroy" mode consecutivelynote  increases the level of the Hyper, the size and score of the chips, and the firepower of the player. Activating a Level 3 Hyper before the Stage 1 mid-boss, Seahorse (and any time after that by holding the bomb button), gives you the Die-Death mode, which intensifies the bullet patterns into Ura-Loop patterns, and increases the size and score of the chips when in "Deathtroy" mode.
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    • The M2 port also brings back the IKD 2007 arrange, sometimes known as the "Blue Label", that was only available to attendants of a Cave festival. In this mode, the distance required to get '5' size chips is decreased, and the player's firepower has been increased, encouraging more aggressive gameplay. In addition, enemy bullet patterns are more aggressive as well, and each life only has one bomb, instead of three. You get an extend at the end of a stage if the amount of '5' chips collected is higher than the amount of '1' chips.
    • The second loops in the base game also count as this as well as an Unexpected Gameplay Change. Both the Omote and Ura loops give the enemies suicide bullets and shrink the size of chips to 1, but sealing enemy bullets in the Ura Loop allows you to gain extra chips. The Ura loopnote  is also how to access Evaccaneer DOOM.
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    • Ketsui Death Label is primarily a Boss Game with Boss Rush modes. The Death Label course, in particular, has you face off against the bosses out of ordernote , with second-loop difficulty, and with the enemy shot colors reversed. It also has an "Extra Course", that puts you through a remixed version of Stage 5 that precedes an extremely difficult version of Evacaneer DOOM. Finally, "DOOM Mode" simply has you fight DOOM. Five times over. And every time you defeat it, the bullet count increases.
  • Attack Drone
  • Boss Game: Ketsui: DEATH Label for the Nintendo DS.
  • Boss Remix: "NO REMORSE", the True Final Boss theme, rearranges "DOOMSDAY" (the fighter select theme from the beginning of the game) at one point.
  • Boss Warning Siren: "Approach your target and attack! Your mission starts now! Are you ready?"
  • Brutal Bonus Level: "Extra Course" in Ketsui: DEATH LABEL is a modified version of Stage 5 from the original game. "Just" a lot, lot, LOT HARDER! And if by any chance you manage to reach the end of the stage, the game pits you against a modified version of Evaccaneer DOOM. It's basically the already hard True Final Boss Fight from the original game with its difficulty cranked Up to Eleven.
  • Bullet Hell
    • Taken to its logical extreme with "DOOM Mode" in Ketsui DEATH LABEL. The mode consists of you fighting against Evaccaneer DOOM. FIVE times in a row, and the bullet density increases ten-fold with each consecutive fight.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: DOOM definitely represents the death part.
  • Combos: See Short-Range Long-Range Weapon below.
  • Crossover: DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu BLACK Label Arrange is the closest thing there is to a sequel to this game, complete with DOOM as the final boss.
  • David vs. Goliath: Done twice. The first mid-boss, Seahorse, and the first main boss, Bullfrog, are massive helicopters compared to your puny Tiger Schwert or Panzer Jaeger. Seahorse is a fairly big common helicopter with twin pontoons, while Bullfrog is absolutely humongous, having four propellers (plus a big back-up propellor) and absolutely dwarfing your copter of choice.
  • The Determinator: "Ketsui" roughly translates to "determination." This is further emphasized by the fact that, unlike most games in the genre, the entire game is a single continuous attack on the enemy base with no breaks between the backgrounds, meaning that the pilots and gunners never rest until the end.
  • Direct Continuous Levels: Once the Score Screen ends, the background transitions into the next level.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Evaccaneer DOOM.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The UN can't let EVAC know that it's them who's conducting the attack, so the four pilots instead fly in EVAC prototypes complete with EVAC callsigns, pretending to be rebels within the company's military.
  • Dummied Out: The announcer has a few clips that are never spoken in-game, such as as "Just a couple more shots!", "Please continue!", and "Game Over."
  • Every 10,000 Points: By default, you get an extra life at 20 million points and again at 45 million points. There's two more ways to get one-ups; see 1-Up below.
  • Expy: DOOM is essentially Hibachi except less bee-themed and more butterfly-themed. Even the beginning of its theme sounds similar; compare Hibachi's "Deep Red Bee" theme with DOOM's "No Remorse".
  • False Flag Operation: The whole point of disguising the pilots as employees of EVAC is to make the pilots' attack look like a rebellion within the company, keeping the heat off of the UN.
  • Game Mod:
  • Gender-Blender Name: Alice Blackburn (pictured in the DEATH Label cover above) is male.
  • Hard Mode Filler:
    • Complete all five stages with less than 6 bombs used and lives lost to unlock the Tsuujou/Omote loop, in which enemies have more firepower and release suicide bullets and the scoring system dramatically changes (for instance, no more chips larger than 1).
    • Complete all five stages with no bombs used or lives lost and a score of at least 120 million points to unlock the Ura loop, which has even more suicide bullets. Should you make it through this, you get to fight the True Final Boss, Evaccaneer DOOM.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The final part of the mission involves the pilots' lives being sacrificed in order to keep the United Nations' involvement a secret.
  • Kaizo Trap: When Black Draft (the mid-boss of Stage 4) is defeated on the Ura Loop, it fires exactly one suicide bullet after you destroyed it.
  • Lost in Translation: The title of Ketsui Deathtiny. "Deathtiny" is meant to be pronounced exactly like "Destiny", hinging on the fact that both words have the same pronunciation when transliterated into Japanese as "th" sounds are transliterated as if they were "s" sounds instead. Expect Westerners not familiar with this limitation to attempt to pronounce the word as "Death-tiny". Similarly, "Deathtroy" — as in the Super Mode — is meant to be pronounced like "Destroy", but a Westerner may pronounce it as "Death-troy".
  • Meaningful Name: Gem & Ini, the sub-boss(es?) of level 2 are a pair of tanks connected together.
  • Mega-Corp: The very being of EVAC Industries
  • Mercy Mode: True to Death Label. Everytime you fail a course, the game permanently increases the number of lives you will start with in it.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: EVAC Industry has the military capacity to force World War III to keep going, and has even managed to own large swaths of land in the process.
  • Nintendo Hard: It's a Bullet Hell shooter by Cave! What do you expect?
    • It is known for its notorious difficulty since experts played it back in 2002.
    • And what's even funnier? CAVE wanted to make this game more approachable for newcomers after DaiOuJou couldn't possibly be realized.
      • Cave later said that they wanted to make the scoring system more approachable, and the fact that the difficulty was just as hard as DaiOuJou was fully intentional.
  • 1-Up: Destroying the main part of Vinogradov (Stage 3's midboss) without bombing nets you a 1-up. You can get a second one on Stage 5 by destroying the production model versions of the player ships, again without bombing. Unlike the point-based extra lives, these can be repeated in the second loop, allowing you to have up to eight lives in reserve.
  • Rated M for Manly: This is CAVE's last game that uses a purely military aesthetic, and on top of that all named characters are male.
  • Score Multiplier: You have two, increased by getting chips:
    • An enemy multiplier that's capped at 999 and is used and decreased when destroying enemies with the lock-on shot.
    • A boss multiplier that builds up throughout the stage and is applied to destroying the boss's phases with the lock-on shot, only decreasing if you get killed or once the boss battle begins but at a much slower and more gradual rate.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: EVAC is CAVE spelled backwards.
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: How you score points (specifically, build up your multiplier). You start by killing an enemy at close range with your standard shot, which sets what multiplier chips you'll be getting from enemies with your lock-on shot. Closer range yields larger chips (up to size 5). You then use your lock-on shot to rack up tons of those chips before your chip timer runs out, at which chips that you release drop back to size 1.
  • Smart Bomb: Your bombs are either shot forward or at a targeted enemy. It will only damage an enemy if it is caught in the explosion and will not clear the screen of bullets. Your ship, however, gets a shield of invincibility that lasts for a little over 4 seconds.
    • Ketsui DEATH LABEL provides the "Auto-Bomb" option. In the unlikely case you were hit, you won't die but your whole bomb stock will be depleted.
    • The Deathtiny Arrange Mode has a similar mechanic, where getting hit triggers the "Deathtroy" Hyper mode.
  • Suicide Attack: Before the start of the game, we're led to know that UN gave the 4 pilots a mission to tear EVAC Industries apart, with the eventual cost of their lives. But in the true ending after destroying DOOM, all the pilots resume their lives, carrying out different missions while still posing as EVAC mercenaries.
  • Super Mode: The "Deathtiny" Arrange Mode introduced in the M2 Shottriggers PS4 port makes chips contribute no multiplier, but in exchange, power the "Deathtroy" mode replacing your bombs. When activated, the "Deathtroy" mode clears all bullets, your ship gains increased firepower, and the chips now contribute score directly. It's essentially DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu Black Label's Hyper Mode in all but name. The "Deathtiny" mode even has a "Die-Death" mode that makes the enemies shoot more bullets, similarly to the Red Mode.
  • Super Prototype: The "AH-Y72 Tiger Schwert" and "FH-X4 Panzer Jäger". The player encounters inferior production models of their helicopters on Level 5.
  • True Final Boss: Evaccaneer DOOM.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The second loop dramatically changes the scoring mechanics. In the Omote Loop (the standard second loop), all chips higher than 1 are now gone, and you don't get chips if you kill enemies close enough to seal their suicide bullets. In the Ura Loop (the special second loop), on the other hand, you get extra chips for sealing suicide bullets, but you still can only get '1' chips. In short, it's similar to the Arrange Modes of various CAVE ports, but mandatory if you unlock them.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower: Averted. The UN is not stated to have any sort of power to stop World War III from happening or the military or diplomatic power to stop EVAC Industry. They have to pick a few elite pilots to do the job.
  • War for Fun and Profit: EVAC's business model, selling weapons to all countries and breaking up attempts at peace just so they can keep funding themselves.
  • Wraparound Background: All of the boss fights have this, par for the course. But of note is the Stage 4 boss, Cinderella Amber. Apparently, EVAC's main runway is only as long as it needs to be for the boss fight.

Approach your target and attack! Your mission starts now! Are you ready?

Video Example(s):


Evaccaneer DOOM (HIVAC)

DOOM's back and better than ever!

(footage from DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu Black Label Arrange, a crossover between DoDonPachi and Ketsui)

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / BulletHell

Media sources:

Main / BulletHell