Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Mushihime-sama (虫姫さま, literally "insect princess") is a Bullet Hell Shoot'Em Up series by CAVE, the same developers behind other Bullet Hell shooters like the Do Don Pachi series.

Mushihime-sama (2004)

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 exchange 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 an 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 Do Don Pachi-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.

Reaching the final stage on Ultra or Arrange mode (neither of which allow you to continue, by the way) pits you against the game's infamous True Final Boss.

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.

In December 2011, CAVE released an iOS port named Bug Princess -- the first arcade game in the series to be translated to English!

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.

Mushihime-sama BUG PANIC! (2010)

Mushihime-sama BUG PANIC! is a top-down free-roaming shooter for newer iDevices. One day, the koju of Shinju Forest start acting strangely and begin flying off elsewhere. Kiniro is mentally troubled, Hirow is severely wounded by the koju, and Palm is completely useless without Hirow. This leaves Reco to travel on foot, throw miniature bombs at enemies, and set things right.

Other games

There 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 Peggle and Puyo Puyo, or, alternatively, like Puzzle Bobble except upside-down. 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.

Tropes used in Mushihime-sama include:
  • 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.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: In Bug Panic, dying frequently results in the game giving more lives. This is most noticeable against the final boss.
  • 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.
  • Attack Drone
  • Ax Crazy: Larsa.
  • Badass Princess: Reco goes through four CAVE games without appearing to break a sweat. In Bug Panic, when Kiniro is unable to help her, she just picks up miniature versions of her bombs and deals with the enemies on foot.
  • Battleship Raid: Mushihime-sama Stage 3. Well, it's more like a Massive Insect Raid.
  • Big Bad: Larsa in Futari.
  • Bishounen: Palm manages to be this and a Cute Shotaro Boy at the same time.
  • Boss Rush: In the penultimate stage of Bug Panic.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cute Shotaro Boy: Palm.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: The X-Box 360 version of Futari has achievements for some very interesting conditions.
  • Downer Ending: At the end of Mushihime-sama, Aki collapses after defeat and death seems inevitable while Reco tries to help him, having not wanted to kill him. It turns out that the bracelet he gave Reco in the prologue was his own protection against a poison in the Shinjuku forest and when he met Reco there, he gave her it to save her life at the cost of his own future. Reco, who seems to have been harboring a crush on him, collapses in tears holding his soon 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 to bring an end to the insane rioting brought about by her anger against Reco for killing Aki 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 port 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.
  • Every Ten Thousand Points
  • Excuse Plot: The plot of Puzzle Mushihime-tama is that some baby golden kabutans are being trapped by colored stones, and some koju 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.
  • Gonk: Larsa is a fat-ass mother.
  • 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 a T-Rex-like creature 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.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Original, Maniac, Ultra (or God in Futari Black Label).
  • 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.
  • Mama Bear: Aki's death prior to the events of Futari causes his mother Larsa to go batshit.
  • Meaningful Name: One of the True Final Boss tracks 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 Do Don Pachi DaiOuJou), and another secret achievement is named "Princess Debut".
  • 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.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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.
  • Region Coding: Averted by the 360 port of Futari. And yes, the Black Label expansion is also region-free.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shotacon: In Futari 's stage complete images, Reco is heavily implied to be wanting... something... from Palm.
  • 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 Fragment Souls" in Futari Black Label.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the early Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind videogame adaptations. The games, being generic shmups, offended Miyazaki, as they went against the story's pacifist message, and he forbid any further videogame adaptations ever being of his work. Cave got around this by making Mushihime instead.
  • 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.
  • 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 Don Pachi series, you don't have to go through the whole game twice to see it.
  • The Unfavorite: Larsa has no qualms about killing Palm because she apparently only cared about Aki.
  • The Uriah Gambit: Larsa intended this for Palm, not expecting that Palm would be able to become friends with Reco.
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy: Both Aki and Palm.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Larsa, and the child is her only remaining son no less. Reco is also legally a child in some countries, and Larsa is just as willing to hurt her too.
  • Wutai: Futari Stage 5, Utakata Village.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Starting with Futari, Reco's hair becomes fiery-orange at the tips.
  • 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.