I mentioned it a bit when I was talking about other shooters, but I feel like I should give Crimzon Clover a good writeup. It’s made me interested in the Japanese indie scene again, when previously I ignored every part of it that wasn’t Touhou.
If there’s a story, I don’t know it. You fly through 5 levels firing massive amounts of bullets at things that fire almost as many back at you. In this context there are 4 modes and two difficulty levels, although two of the modes are only available on “arcade” difficulty. (One of the modes, Unlimited, is just standard with everything turned up to 11, with a few special rules that allow you to theoretically survive everything being turned up to 11.) You have your choice of three ships at the start, with a 4th unlockable. The Type-I is the balanced ship, with a wide spread primary attack and homing lasers for a lock-on attack, The Type-III (my personal favorite) is much faster but has a narrower primary fire and a slower-charging lock-on attack. The Type-II is somewhere in the middle, with the fire spread being determined by how you position the Gradius-style options. The final ship, the Type-Z, is better than the others in almost every way, and you can consider it your reward for playing the game for long enough to unlock it.
A key feature of the game is the Break Gauge in the upper right. If this meter is over the small line, you can use a bomb (although using one will cause the bomb line to move further to the right, making it take longer to earn the next one). Using a bomb destroys all shots and most small enemies on-screen and gives you temporary invincibility, so it’s a good way to get out of trouble. If the gauge is full, using the bomb button instead enters break mode, causing your firepower and max number of lock-ons to go up, as well as doubling the score multiplier (This still clears the screen of bullets and grants temporary invincibility). This lasts for a certain duration or until you use a bomb. If you manage to fill the gauge again while in break mode, you can enter double break mode for screen-filling ridiculousness in your firepower and doubling the score multiplier again. The downside to this is that your break gauge completely empties when this ends and you can’t use a bomb during it.
Other than this upgrade to the bomb button, this mode is fairly standard. The difficulty ramps up as you move through the stages and beat the bosses, with an EX-boss available if you can beat the normal boss of Stage 5 without using a continue. (Despite calling the easier difficulty “novice”, this is not any easy task in any sense.) Beat the EX boss to see the credits and beat the game (and join about 11% of the players on Steam).
Boost mode works a little differently. Instead of being able to activate break mode, it activates automatically when the gauge is full and lasts until you either use a bomb or die. Instead, the UI element that normally counts down break duration has a timer that counts up, and enemies and bullets speed up based on how high it gets. Many attack patterns are slightly (or in some cases significantly) easier in boost mode to compensate for this. Dropping out of boost mode will reduce things to a normal speed, but it will go back up to full speed when you fill the gauge again, something that’s certainly going to happen eventually.
If you’re not playing for score, I think Boost Mode is easier, as you can bomb to slow things down and if you don’t need to do that, you have the increased firepower of Break Mode all of the time. I like it better, but that might just be because I’m better at it. If you have any interest in shmups at all, you should give Crimzon Clover a shot. It’s on Steam and is supposedly coimg to GoG soon, so it’s much easier to get than many other games in the genre out of Japan.
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