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Castle of Shikigami / Shikigami no Shiro

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Page 1:
Introduction
Shikigami no Shiro /
Mobile Light Force 2

Page 2:
Shikigami no Shiro II /
Castle Shikigami 2
Shikigami no Shiro III /
Castle of Shikigami III

Page 3:
Shikigami no Shiro: Nanayozuki Gensoukyoku
Merchandise

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Shikigami no Shiro II (式神の城II) / Castle Shikigami 2 - Arcade, Dreamcast, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Windows (2003)

Japanese Dreamcast Cover

American PlayStation 2 Cover

Two years after the first game's release, Alfa System created a sequel that brings back the investigators from the first game, with a few new faces. It originated in arcades, and was eventually ported to just about every popular console at the time.

Much of the core gameplay is unchanged. The Tension Bullet System where grazing bullets earns you extra points and firepower is still intact, as are the Shikigami and bomb attacks. Each of the playable characters no longer have upgradable firepower, but to make up for it, they each have two varieties of special (Shikigami) attacks to choose from. The returning characters' normal attacks are unchanged, aside from that they can no longer be powered up like in the first Shikigami.

What gives Shikigami II extra replay value is that every single character has a unique storyline path when played with a second character , offering incentive to take on the game with a friend, if you want to see how crazy the shared stories can get. (Very crazy, in fact.)

Shikigami no Shiro II was originally released in the arcades, first ported to the GameCube, then later released for the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. Each version had different limited edition packages - the DC version included a soundtrack, the GameCube version had a figure of a cat, and the PlayStation version had a figuring of the Witch, Fumiko. Only the PlayStation 2 port made it outside of Japan, under the name Castle Shikigami II, courtesy of XS Games in American and Play It in Europe. The home versions include a very nice art gallery, complete with high-res artwork. It also included new modes of play with extra enemies and an 'Extreme' Mode in which enemies leave behind bullets after dying, for even more difficulty. There's also an arrange BGM option with remixes of Shikigami no Shiro's OST used in place of Shikigami II's.

This time XS Games treated the game with far more respect, as most everything is faithful to the Japanese version. The packaging actually advertises the game for what it is - a shmup with anime-influenced characters blowing up stuff. Even the tate option is still present.

However, this is easily one of the worst translations in the history of video gaming. Unlike its predecessor, Castle Shikigami II includes full voice acting, and All the mid-stage dialogue is completely spoken. These have been translated and dubbed for the English localization, but none of it makes sense, at all - presuming that the dialogue was Babelfished is an insult to online translators everywhere.

A few choice adages:

"...I like girls, but now, it's about justice."

"You have two choices: beaten then caught, or caught then beaten."

"Beat 'em down then jump. I just started now."

Furthermore, the voiceovers are all done by people who obviously have no acting talent whatsoever, and seem to be confused that what they're reading is even English. (Check out Audio Atrocities for full dialogue clips.) At least the in-game voices were kept in Japanese. Purists will definitely cringe, but it's definitely worth checking out for the comedy value alone. What might come as surprising is that the Japanese version's dialogue was just as senseless, if not more so. It's just that XS Games was just a little too literal in their translation treatment. Unfortunately it seems like these were all excised completely from the European release.

The dialogue wasn't the only aspect of Shikigami II that received a weak treatment. Even the instruction book looks like it came from the result of a literal translation. As a bit of an in-joke, the Shikigame attacks are now called "Mobile Light Force 3" attacks. It still manages to be informative, but you have to wonder if anyone at XS Games knows how to proofread their products before they go to publication. Fortunately, despite their lackluster efforts, XS deserve credit for bringing over the second game mostly untouched, and at an extremely cheap retail price of $10.

Castle Shikigami II has a lot going on in its story, but the bad translation work doesn't help much in the way of making any sense of it. Still, it has a lot to offer for series vets. A wide variety of stages and bosses alike, even more difficulty, and some nice music to go along with it. Even better for the US fans, this would be XS Games' last Shikigami endeavor in the states. A more deserving publisher would be the ones to get the rights to the next game in the series.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

  • Taito (JP)
  • XS Games (NA)
  • Play It Games (PAL)

Genre:

Themes:


Shikigami no Shiro II (Windows)

Shikigami no Shiro II (Windows)

Shikigami no Shiro II (Windows)

Shikigami no Shiro II (Windows)


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Characters

Characters

According to the few bits of the translation that make sense, the bosses are all members of a group called the "New World Order".

Additional Screenshots


Shikigami no Shiro III (式神の城III) / Castle of Shikigami III - Arcade, Windows, Xbox 360, Wii (2006)

American Wii Cover

Japanese Wii Cover

Japanese Xbox 360 Cover

Three years after the arcade release of the second Shikigami game, the third episode made its debut in 2006. For a series known for having convoluted and even incomprehensible plots, Shikigami III takes it up a notch higher. Rather than Japan, Castle of Shikigami III (as the US version is known) takes place in the fictional Middle European country of Alcaland. Alcaland commonly handles its own business, and prefers to operate away from the outside world. As it has little economic worth and is widely desolate, few other governments have any interest in theirs. While Alcaland has its own borders, it must thrive on electricity and support from neighboring countries to operate. When a rash of disappearances and comatose victims begin occuring, Alcaland is forced to cease their isolation and seek outside assistance.

After consulting some 20-year-old documents showing their talent for investigations, the Princess of Alcaland came to the conclusion that Japan would be the right country to turn to. She also considers this to be an appropriate move on Japan's part, to replay Alcaland for their services in the past. (Reportedly consisting of a single armed yacht sent to Japan's 'aid' during the Russo-Japanese war.) Although it was a matter of much contention in the government, Japan eventually agreed on allowing The Association for Psychic Studies to organize a group to solve Alcaland's troubles. It isn't long before the organization recognizes the cause of the disturbances: the return of the infamous Castle of Nightmares.

Castle of Shikigami III changes little from its predecessors, at a glance. The Tension System is unchanged, as are the normal shot/shikigami/bomb attack methods. However, it does include a few new gameplay mechanics. The Tension Max System allows a player to shoot at a High Tension rate of fire for a limited amount of time, at the cost of one bomb. Their attacks will then have the same amount of firepower as they would when grazing bullets. Additionally, all coins received during the Max Tension phase will be at the maximum multiplier (x 8). The home versions also feature remixed versions of themes from previous Shikigami games.

For single players wanting to experience the two player story modes, Alfa System added a "Dramatic Change" feature. This allows one player to use two different characters, experiencing a two player story mode, with the ability to switch between the two players at will. Another welcome positive for Castle of Shikigami III is that it finally received a proper localization, or at least the best a shmup can hope for. The Wii version was published in the US by Aksys Games, also known for publishing the later Guilty Gear and BlazBlue games in the US. They had planned to release the Xbox 360 version here as well, but were reportedly turned down by Microsoft. There's no real difference, outside of the HD visuals in the 360 versions, but it hardly matters since the game's not exactly a looker to begin with. Aksys made the best of it, and localized Shikigami III's dialogue and voice acting with an appropriate mix of seriousness and outright insanity. According to their staff, the original version's dialogue was similar in tone, and didn't always make a lot of sense. Still, it wouldn't be a Shikigami game without a varied and eclectic cast.

Quick Info:

Developer:

Publisher:

Genre:

Themes:


Shikigami no Shiro III (Windows)

Shikigami no Shiro III (Windows)

Shikigami no Shiro III (Windows)


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Characters

Bosses

It's been said that the adversaries found in the Castle are generated based on the memories of its visitors. This proves especially true with Shikigami III's bosses.

<<< Prior Page

Next Page >>>

Page 1:
Introduction
Shikigami no Shiro /
Mobile Light Force 2

Page 2:
Shikigami no Shiro II /
Castle Shikigami 2
Shikigami no Shiro III /
Castle of Shikigami III

Page 3:
Shikigami no Shiro: Nanayozuki Gensoukyoku
Merchandise

Back to the Index