The games in the series are:
The first game in the series, released originally as an arcade game in 2004 and then ported to the PlayStation 2 in 2005.
The game takes place in a world covered by lush forests inhabited by giant insects known as Koujuu. Unfortunately, the Applied Phlebotinum that allows these insects to thrive, the Levi-Sense (read: Miasma), proves to be fatal to humans, leaving humanity whittled down to sparse settlements such as the Hoshifuri Village, which is granted survival in exchange for the sacrifice of a 15-year-old-girl every 200 years. One day, Reco, the daughter of the royal family of Hoshifuri, is given a bracelet by a mysterious boy in Shinju forest, where she once got lost in as a child. She learns that she is the next sacrifice and, as she turns 15, the Miasma takes over her village. To save her people, Reco embarks on the giant golden beetle Kiniro and takes off to meet the Koujuu god.
Mushihime-sama plays similarly to other Cave shooters, only with large insects for enemies and nature-themed stages, and offers three difficulty levels: Original mode (with faster, Psikyo-style bullets), Maniac (with denser bullets and DoDonPachi-style combos), and Ultra (which is Maniac with even more bullets). The PS2 port, released in 2005 adds an Arrange difficulty that grants you more firepower, a weapon change button (instead of you having to wait for a powerup icon to change shot types), and an auto-bomb feature.
The game got an Expansion Pack in the form of Mushihime-sama Blue Label, in 2006. It received another Expansion Pack by the name of Mushihime-sama Cave Matsuri version 1.5 which sold out within one hour of going on sale for each of its production runs.
The game was announced for a Steam release in September 2015. It was released on November 5, 2015.
A Nintendo Switch port by Live Wire was announced on June 15, 2021 (along with upcoming ports of Espgaluda II and DoDonPachi Resurrection), and released that same day in all major regions. All of the content of the Xbox 360 and Steam releases, including the Version 1.5 DLC, is included in the initial purchase.
Mushihime-sama Futari (2006)
Mushihime-sama Futari (虫姫さまふたり) is a follow-up to Mushihime-sama that adds a new character, Palm, revamped scoring systems, among other things. It turns out that the mysterious boy from the previous game, Aki, was the prince and heir to a small kingdom known as Utakata Village. The queen of that kingdom, Larsa, is unhappy that Aki is now dead and starts a war against Shinju Forest.
Futari has seen no less than three updates:
- Version 1.5 - Fixes some bugs and revises some of the game mechanics, generally making them more lenient.
- Version 1.01 - Version 1.0 with 1.5's mechanics.
- Black Label - A limited-edition Expansion Pack with new shot types, updates to the scoring systems, and a new Harder Than Hard difficulty, God mode, that replaces Ultra mode.
The game was ported to the Xbox 360 in 2009, with no Region Coding, allowing 360 owners of any region to play it. The 360 port comes with Version 1.5, a random chance of getting the Version 1.01 unlock code, a tag-team-ish Arrange mode where you control both characters, and a Novice mode for beginner players. A few weeks later, the Black Label upgrade was made available on the Xbox Live Marketplace (again, with no region lock) for 1200 Microsoft Points (or 15 USD).
It was also ported under the title Bug Princess 2 to the iOS on April 5, 2012 followed by Bug Princess 2 Black Label on June 23.
Mushihime-sama BUG PANIC! (2010)
Mushihime-sama BUG PANIC! is a top-down free-roaming shooter for newer iDevices. One day, the koujuu of Shinju Forest start acting strangely and begin flying off elsewhere. Kiniro is mentally troubled, Hirow is severely wounded by the koujuu, and Palm is completely useless without Hirow. This leaves Reco to travel on foot, throw miniature bombs at enemies, and set things right.
Other gamesThere is a Puzzle Game based on the Mushihime-sama series called Puzzle! Mushihime-tama. It is a self rip-off/remake of Cave's own Uo Poko, which can be described as a cross between Puzzle Bobble and Puyo Puyo. Showing how big this franchise is getting, there is a free iPhone app called Mushihime-sama BUG TIMER which is simply a kitchen timer that is Mushihime-sama-themed.
This series provides examples of:
- Anti-Frustration Features:
- In Bug Panic, dying frequently results in the game giving more lives. This is most noticeable against the final boss.
- In Mushihimesama Ver. 1.5, choosing a MAX shot type cranks up the enemy difficulty in exchange for your maxed-out firepower, and restricts you to only one bomb per respawn, however auto-bomb will be enabled.
- Are You Sure You Want to Do That?: Both games give you a menacing red and black warning screen if you choose Ultra Mode, asking if you're prepared to "battle sheer despair". If you choose "no" (and unless you're a top class Bullet Hell player, you really should), the game sends you back to the difficulty select.
- Arrange Mode:
- The Play Station 2 port has an arrange that gives you more firepower, the ability to change shot types at will, and an auto-bomb feature, but without the ability to use continues.
- Another arrange exists called the Version 1.5 or Matsuri mode (which also has its own Original, Maniac, and Ultra modes), which saturates the stages, gives you a new arranged soundtrack and allows you to choose max-power versions of the three shot types, at the cost of increased difficulty.
- Futari also has an arrange that has you control one character, with another following behind, being able to swap with each other. The reserve character, if they have gold, is able to slow and reflect enemy bullets, which leave behind a shower of gold in their path. A Fever mode is available when both of the characters' gold meters reach 9999, where their shots become more powerful, and all gold has a blue aura and greatly increases your score, but the gold attained drops to zero. This arrange mode, according to Word of God, was inspired by a scene from Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone, where Rei Ayanami protects Shinji Ikari from an otherwise fatal counter-attack by acting as his shield.
- Art Shift: The art for Mushihime-sama was done by Tomoyuki Kotani (who also did the art for the Ibara series), while the art for Futari was done by HACCAN.
- Ascended Glitch: In the original game on Maniac, Ultra, and Arrange, when you start hitting an enemy, their multiplier counter jumps up by a significant amount, with the amount further increased if you have sub-multipliers on that enemy from your options' lasers. Normally this is balanced out by the main multiplier decreasing rapidly when the enemy isn't being hit, but players discovered that with careful manipulation of manually-fired shots, they could get the "first hit" boost in rapid succession, faster than the penalty can compensate for; this technique is known as "counter banking". As a result, some operators would implement special rapid fire buttons to take full advantage of this trick. CAVE noticed, and replicated the same feature in all home ports.
- Attack Drone
- Ax-Crazy: Larsa.
- Battleship Raid: Mushihime-sama Stage 3. Well, it's more like a Massive Insect Raid.
- Big Bad: Subverted in the case of Aki in the first game. He's not actually looking to kill Reco. He wants her to take his place as ruler of the Shinju Forest.
- Larsa plays this straight in Futari, as she goes batshit insane when she hears about Aki's death, and declares war on the forest.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Most of the enemies are very large insects. The protagonists and Aki ride large insect mounts.
- Bloodless Carnage: The vast majority of enemies are large creatres, mainly bugs and insects, and merely go up in pretty blue explosions rather than a mess of blood and guts.
- Boss Rush: In the penultimate stage of Bug Panic
- Bug Princess 2 Black Label added this feature while also including the bosses from the first game.
- Bullet Hell: Of course. Even Bug Panic is this, especially the bosses.
- Child Mage: Palm uses a magic staff to either evoke large quantities of fire from his pet Hirow, or to release bomb items as really powerful spells.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
- Unlike most other Bullet Hell shooters, all of the bullets are either purple or pink to make them easier to distinguish, though that isn't saying much.
- When playing Futari on Original or Ultra, the gem counter will be green when you need to use your unfocused shot to generate bigger gems, and blue when you need to use your focused shot to do so.
- Combos: Mushihime-sama Maniac, Ultra, and Arrange. Futari Maniac is distantly similar: destroying enemies in quick succession builds up a gauge. When the gauge hits red, using your focus shot to destroy enemies will yield larger gems. When the gauge is empty, you can use that same shot to "cash in" your multiplier by getting special blue gems whose point values are multiplied by your current multiplier, which then rapidly decreases with each blue gem collected.
- Bug Panic has defeated enemies also cause damage to other enemies within a small radius, critical to getting a high score.
- Difficult, but Awesome: The "counter banking" exploit in the original game on Maniac, Ultra, and Arrange. The details are complicated, but it involves manually tapping fire buttons (or special rapid fire buttons on modifiied cabinets and the Rapid Shot and Rapid Full Auto buttons on home ports) to repeatedly gain the "first hit" boost on enemies' multipliers. Normally this is negated by the multiplier rapidly decreasing when the enemy isn't being hit, but "manually" firing with the correct timing (slow enough that the enemy is registered as "not hit", but fast enough that the multiplier doesn't start to decrease) allows the player to spike the multiplier on the enemy. A text guide on counter banking can be found here, and this episode of Shooting Game Weekly provides a video demonstration.
- Downer Ending: At the end of Mushihime-sama Aki collapses after Reco defeats him, and his death seems inevitable despite Reco trying to help him. It turns out that the bracelet he gave Reco in the prologue was his own protection against the poisonous Levi Sense in the Shinju Forest, and when he met Reco there he gave it to her as a means to save her life, at the cost of his own future. Reco, who seems to have harbored a crush on him from the beginning, collapses in tears holding his dead body, while his final message is he'll always be with her in spirit.
- Not that bad in Futari. Palm loses his mother after he and/or Reco are forced to stop her and bring an end to her insane rioting, which was a result of her anger against Reco for killing Aki. This was despite their pleas to her that Reco did not want Aki to die, and Reco is a good person. While Palm is noticibly upset, this time the spirit of his big brother Aki appears again and he has Reco to give him a big tearful hug.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Why is Palm wearing a tube top?
- Dynamic Difficulty: In Original mode of both games. Futari has the gold counter also act as the rank counter; if you avoid spamming bombs and dying (both of which reduce the counter), and reach the last stage, bullets will be flying so fast that you'll wonder if you just walked into a Raiden game on its second loop.
- Easier Than Easy: The 360 and iOS ports of Futari offers the Novice supermode, which has easy versions of 1.5's Original, Maniac, and Ultra and automatic bombing.
- Energy Ball: It's a Bullet Hell game series so it's almost compulsory for enemies to fire them.
- Excuse Plot: The plot of Puzzle Mushihime-tama is that some baby golden kabutans are being trapped by colored stones, and some koujuu are trying to eat them. It just so happens that combining the colored stones together in a specific way causes them to disappear.
- Flash of Pain: Enemies and bosses do that when hit.
- Going Commando: Reco wears no panties under her skirt, as stated by director Tsuneki Ikeda, and shown by the official figures.
- Gonk: Larsa is a fat-ass mother.
- Bishōnen Line: As Spiritual Larsa.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: Kabutans, golden beetles that look like Kiniro, in Bug Panic
- Harder Than Hard: Ultra difficulty in Mushihime-sama and non-Black Label Futari, God in Futari Black Label. You know you're in for a ride on Ultra when the game gives you a warning screen confirming if you're "ready for instant death".*
- High Definition: The arcade version of Futari runs at 240x320, but the 360 port offers a mode that makes the graphics look much nicer, especially on an high-definition screen.
- High-Speed Battle: Several boss battles. Futari Stage 1's in particular has the T-Rex-like Zauga Tera chasing after you, with the screen scrolling backwards.
- Hitbox Dissonance: Justified. The bullets are made out of the Koujuu's life force, which is harmful to Reco and Palm but not to their mounts.
- Hope Spot: Invoked in an achievement for the 360 port of Futari: On Stage 5, you must lose your last life with the 1-Up on the screen.
- Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Original, Maniac, Ultra (or God in Futari Black Label).
- Kid Hero: Reco is 14 years old and turns 15 for Futari, which also introduces the 9-year-old Palm.
- Lethal Lava Land: Hibachi Volcano from Bug Panic
- Lighter and Softer: Mushihime-sama BUG PANIC features cuter anime-sytle graphics compared to the main games. It isn't any less Bullet Hell, though.
- Magical Flutist: A mysterious girl who appears in the cutscenes named Sora.
- Market-Based Title: The games are called Bug Princess and Bug Princess 2 in the international mobile releases. However, the Steam and Switch ports walk back on this, instead being called Mushihimesama in all regions, although in export markets the logo uses the transliterated title.
- Mama Bear: Aki's death prior to the events of Futari causes his mother Larsa to go batshit.
- Marathon Boss: Version 1.5's True Final Boss, in which Larsa has three separate health bars. The entire battle clocks in at about seven minutes, which doesn't seem like a lot until you consider that the entire game is less than thirty minutes.
- Meaningful Name: Queen Larsa's theme for the first phase of her fight (riding her mount, the Dragon Emperion) is called Cry! Scream!! Never has a piece of music been more appropriately named.
- Mythology Gag: One of the worlds from Bug Panic is Hibachi Volcano
- One of the achievements for Bug Panic is "Not Quite Ketsui" for locking onto three enemies (Ketsui's homing shots were based on locking on up to four different things), one of the secret achievements is "Living a Full Life" (the title of the ending song for DoDonPachi Dai Ou Jou), and another secret achievement is named "Princess Debut"
- Nerf: In Futari Black Label, the counter penalty for a bomb is heavily increased, and is in fact significantly higher than the penalty for dying, meaning that you now have to mutually-exclusively choose between surviving and scoring.
- Nintendo Hard: Particularly on the higher difficulty levels.
- Futari is particularly infamous for its difficulty on Ultra.
- Noblewoman's Laugh: Larsa does this a lot."OH HO HO HO HO HO HO HO!"
- Non-Indicative Difficulty:
- Maniac in all versions of Futari can actually be easier than Original, as Original has a Dynamic Difficulty system that eventually leads to lightning-fast bullets (especially if you're going for score), while Maniac doesn't have such a mechanic and the bullets don't go anywhere near Original high-rank speeds.
- God Mode in Futari Black Label is actually easier than 1.5's Ultra; it has slightly less bullets and significantly more slowdown. And Larsa gains a legitimate True Final Boss form much easier than her original fight in the Ultra Difficulty. Despite God mode being easier bulletwise, God mode has a stricter requirement for its TLB of "no deaths".
- 1-Up: In Mushihime-sama, completely destroying a certain region of the giant creature in stage 3 reveals a 1-up item. In Futari, it is uncovered in stage 5 by destroying a particular building, and there appears to be no other prerequisite for it, but it appears in a part of the stage that scrolls down, so you have to get it before it scrolls off the top of the screen, which isn't exactly the safest region on the screen.
- Pinball Scoring: Scores, particularly on the games' Maniac and Ultra modes, can rise into the billions. The "last digit is used for something else" version of this trope, on the other hand, is an aversion.
- God Mode: Raise your multiplier to 30000. Cancel a screenful of bullets into blue gems.
- Return to Shooter: Futari Arrange's bullet reflecting mechanic. Though unlike in Giga Wing, they don't damage enemies; instead, they shower lots of counter-raising gold.
- Sad Battle Music: Sky of Fragrant Souls, the battle music of Spiritual Larsa.
- Say My Name: On dying in Futari's later stages — "RECO-CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!" "PARUMUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!"
- Sequel Hook: Bug Panic's ending implies that Sora and her pet Hakugin will be playable in a sequel.
- Serial Escalation: The True Final Bosses. Each one is worse than the one before
- And then inverted in Futari Novice Original. No seriously, this is Larsa on Novice Original. And if you can't dodge it all, there's the auto-bomb mechanic, which automatically deploys a bomb on taking a hit.
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Shimotsuki Ice Shelf from Bug Panic, which is also implied to be Stage 2 from Futari based on the enemies.
- Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: In Original on Futari, the color of the counter—either green or blue—indicates what type of shot you should be using to get the larger gold gems. Futari Black Label Original triggers a sound every time you switch from one color to the other.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The True Final Bosses of both games have soothing, almost ending-like music — "Requiem of the Sky" in Mushihime-sama, and "Sky of Fragrant Souls" in Futari Black Label.
- Averted in non-Black-Label Futari, which uses the same music as any other boss (excluding the Queen Larsa battle just before it, which has a fast-paced synth-rock soundtrack).
- Stripperiffic: Reco, in both of her appearances. Mushihime-sama gives her a Magic Skirt, Zettai Ryouiki, and a form-fitting shirt (it doesn't help that she's well-endowed for a 15-year-old), and in Futari her shirt is a Sexy Backless Outfit with Sideboob.
- Take Up My Sword: Aki's true intentions for Reco and the real reason for the sacrifice ritual.
- Treasure Is Bigger in Fiction: Just look at all these gems you can collect!
- True Final Boss: Both games, and how. Though at least unlike in the DonPachi series, you don't have to go through the whole game twice to see it.
- In Futari Black Label, you do have to go through God Mode to reach it, which is just about as hard as any DonPachi series' second loops.
- The Unfavorite: Larsa has no qualms about killing Palm, because she apparently only cared about Aki.Queen Larsa: There are far more princes from where you come from... now die.
- Untranslated Title: The localizations of the Switch and PC versions of the first game leave the title as-is. The mobile ports avert this, translating the titles from Mushihime-sama to Bug Princess and Mushihime-sama Futari to Bug Princess 2.
- The Uriah Gambit: Larsa intended this for Palm, not expecting that Palm would be able to survive... or for that matter, become friends with Reco.
- Would Hurt a Child: Larsa, and the child is her only remaining son no less. Reco is also legally a child in many countries, and Larsa is just as willing to hurt her too.
- Wutai: Futari Stage 5, Utakata Village.
- You Can't Go Home Again: When Reco learns the truth of the ritual and replaces Aki as the ruler of the Koujuu, she resolves not to return to her home village, allowing them to believe she was sacrificed, rather than the source of Applied Phlebotinum that harms them.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: The bracelet Aki gave to Reco is actually the mark of the one appointed to be the next "sacrifice". In reality, the sacrifice is not killed, but instead becomes the leader and guide of the Koujuu, keeping them from overrunning the human settlements before they finally achieve attunement to Levi-Sense. In a sense, when Aki doomed himself to die by giving Reco the bracelet, he was also "selling" her her new bug princess status, to be finalized when she goes through with the ritual battle. It can be inferred, given how the bracelet protects the leader from Levi-Sense poisoning, that passing the bracelet on always results in the previous leader's death.