Terra Cresta, or The Cresta Series is a series of Shoot 'em ups by Nichibutsu, that started with Moon Cresta in 1980.
In each game, you pilot a different ship. The main thing each ship has in common is access to various power-ups that increase your firepower, but often render you more vulnerable due to the increase in the size of your ship's hitbox, and getting hit will cause you to lose all upgrades and revert back to the basic ship. The drawback here is that Power-ups have to be acquired in a certain order, which can make things a little frustrating for some.
The game received multiple ports, with the most recent one being Arcade Archives: Terra Cresta by Hamster in 2018 for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
A sequel, Sol Cresta, by PlatinumGames (yes, that PlatinumGames) in collaboration with Hamster was released on February 22, 2022 for PS4, Switch, and Windows PC (via Steam).
This series provides examples of:
- Arch-Enemy: Mandler.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Sol Cresta gives Moon Cresta and the first two Terra Cresta games a Happy Ending Override, which reveals that the Mandler Army is still alive and kicking despite the efforts of Go Kurogane, and even won the previous wars before taking over the entire solar system.
- Big Bad: Mandler is the main villain of the franchise. It is also the Final Boss in most of the games.
- Bug War: The third and fourth wave of enemies in Moon Cresta consist of "Super Flies," and the fifth and sixth wave of enemies (called "Four-D's") look a lot like giant mosquitoes.
- The Cameo: Duplicates of Mandler appear as normal enemies in Sky Robo, another Shoot 'Em Up by Nichibutsu.
- Co-Dragons: In Terra Cresta and Terra Cresta 3D, Tubo and Dycoon to Mandler.
- Combining Mecha: A Combining spaceship. Your power-ups are additional pieces of your ship, more often than not.
- Diagonal Speed Boost: Moving your ship diagonally does not reduce your horizontal or vertical velocity compared to moving in cardinal directions.
- The Dragon: Bornam in the second game.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Moon Cresta is in the style of Space Invaders or Galaga than a vertical scrolling shooter.
- Endless Game: Moon Cresta and Terra Cresta
- Flaming Meteor: The seventh and eighth waves in Moon Cresta. They may not be exactly flaming, but they most certainly are meteors.
- Giant Eye of Doom: The first two waves in Moon Cresta feature four floating eyes, each one larger than the initial spaceship. Shooting them once only makes them angry...
- Glass Cannon: In Terra Cresta at the very least you can unlock your ships for some time getting extra firepower. However if your starting ship is hit all are destroyed at the same time, losing a life.
- Grand Finale: Sol Cresta is set to be the final chapter of the Cresta saga.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Mandler, in Moon Cresta.
- Kaizo Trap: Whenever Mandler is defeated, the Power of Void, the crystal embedded in Mandler, will eject and launch a series of bullets before vanishing.
- Leitmotif: The bosses have their own theme music. It also follows in remakes and sequels.
- Marathon Level: The final stage of Terra Cresta II is quite long, with a Boss Rush and a Nostalgia Level of the first game thrown in before the Final Boss.
- Mission Control: The protagonists are supported by Commander Go Kurogane and twin operators Reichi and Reini Cosmea.
- Mission-Pack Sequel: Moon Quasar, which is just Moon Cresta, but with an additional game start jingle before the one from the previous game, but more importantly, a fuel counter, and the player has to refuel every so often.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Mandler, in all its appearances, has two pairs of arms as its primary weapons. Said arms also launches Rocket Punches and boomerangs.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: In Terra Cresta, the phoenix form that you get when you combine the five ships even if it lasts just a couple of seconds.
- Nintendo Hard: As is many shmups of the time. You start with a weak ship that carries a peashooter as its only means of attack, enemies like to attack from difficult angles, and while that five-form ship that turns into a phoenix for some seconds is cool, it takes only two hits, the first one destroying two of your ships, to get reverted back to the basic ship.
- Nostalgia Level: During the final stage in Terra Cresta II, a time warp will send you back to the original Terra Cresta game, complete with remix of the main theme and encountering the bosses from that game.
- Primary-Color Champion: The Yamato in Sol Cresta is the protagonists' ship, and its three units are each colored red, blue, and yellow.
- Revenge of the Sequel: The second game's subtitle is Mandler Strikes Back.
- Shave And A Haircut: You'll hear this in Moon Cresta as part of a derisive tune that plays if you botch docking your ships correctly.
- Signature Move: Mandler, upon defeat, will have its core eject from its body and fire off a few bullets before it escapes.
- Spell My Name with an S: Mandler, the series' Big Bad, is sometimes spelled as "Mandora", "Mandoler", or "Mandra".
- Spiritual Sequel: Dangar UFO Robo. They both are by Nichibutsu, run on the same hardware, have the same art style, and involve modular protagonists.
- Two Guys and a Girl: The Yamato spaceship is piloted by three people of this setup. Sho Tendo (pilot of Unit 01 "Amaterasu") and Dril Martin (pilot of Unit 03 "Susano") are the guys, and Luna Zarnitsyna Sheena (pilot of Unit 02 "Tsukuyomi") is the girl.
- Uncertain Doom: The CR-47's fate is unknown after the events of Moon Cresta. Until the release of Sol Cresta, where it's revealed it's been destroyed.
- The Unfought: Moon Cresta is the only game where Mandler isn't fought.
- Unstable Equilibrium: The Power-up system is a bit unforgiving. Stay alive and you'll keep collecting parts to power up your ship and reach phoenix form, easily tearing enemies a new one. Keep getting hit and your game will be over quickly due to being stuck with the basic ship.