And now they've released their first iphone game. Espgaluda 2 is the sequel to, as you might suspect, Espgaluda. It's not important. What you need to know is this: It's fucking great.
To be clear: I don't like Cave's games anymore, and I think this is stunning.
It's a bullet-hell game, which means it's you versus every ammunition-maker in the universe, all showing off their bright pink and blue wares by trying to kill you. Most of the screens look like this:
If you've played Taito's Space Invaders Infinity Gene you'll immediately understand the controls. You slide your digit around the screen and your on-screen player responds appropriately, no matter where it is. This is the only way to do it: you keep touching the bottom of the screen and you control your player without covering it up. It's surprising how many other games get this wrong.
There are two game modes (Arcade and the easier iphone setting), three characters (with different shot powers), three difficulty settings, three control schemes (simple, tricky and too-many-buttons) and as an extra bit of kindness on Cave's part, you can put the buttons on the left or right side of the screen. You can also choose the screen size, giving you more or less room beneath the game to slide your thumb around.
It's five bucks, and utterly, totally worth it, and the main reason is the controls. Unlike most other iphone games that saddle you with a shitty on-screen d-pad, the finger-sliding control is sublime. You can slide and fling your player around with pixel-perfect control, as quickly or slowly as you like. This is not only better than most other iphone games, it's far and away better than most console based games. From the first game I felt far more comfortable playing Espgaluda 2 than any other shmup in recent memory.
Stunningly too, the game is smooth. It doesn't bog down with the onscreen mayhem. It's absolutely the most accomplished game I've seen on the iphone so far. I have high hopes this will lead to a renaissance of solid shmups for the system. I get tingles when I think of a Raiden trilogy, made with this kind of attention to detail.
Attention game publishers: Cave has raised the bar.
Cave's Espgaruda 2 page