Guest Article: Kamui

The first title released in what would become the Altynex Trilogy

Kamui is a vertically scrolling STG (shooting game) developed Japanese Doujin (the common label given to independent Japanese game developers) team Siter Skain. The title was originally released for Windows in 1999. It has since been released for Steam as of December 2014 courtesy of Nyu Media.

Critically, the game is very well received, with it being viewed widely as a top notch entry in the shmup genre and heralded as an all time great from some outlets. I personally enjoy the game very much and find it to be an excellent mix of what makes the genre appealing to begin with. Challenging without feeling oppresive and a nice presentation with an impressive amount of shifting in both distance and location in the background. The scoring system, while fairly straight forward, is robust as it pertains to the game play and requires the player to juggle risk and reward a good bit to succeed in obtaining truly high scores.

The gameplay is often said to have similarities with the “Ray” series of games from Taito. This is largely due to the different planes of combat and how they utilize a lock on system as the means to combat enemies in the background plane. The lock on systems are fairly different in practice though. There is no painting or highlighting of targets in Kamui. The game employs a grid which covers the entire screen and any enemies within sight will usually be destroyed immediately when attacked with the lock on lightning attack. The attack is regulated via a meter and has to recharge briefly when used.

By holding the lock on and pressing your regular attack button, you are able to fire a lighting like beam that kills enemies and projectiles on your plane. The beam attack also triggers the lock on system so it is the only way to simultaneously attack enemies in both planes. You also have your primary weapon that can be powered up with additional pickups throughout the stages. It can be leveled up significantly and increases dramatically over your starting fire in regards to spread and power.You have a set amount of lives before you must continue.

Kamui also employs a shield system that begins you with 5 bars of shield. Having this depleted will result in death. It sounds forgiving, however the game does not utilize extends. Compounded with the fact you receive shield drops quite sparingly and they aren’t always able to be reached in time if they appear more than a half-screen away. While I’ve heard it referenced as a forgiving game compared to others, I’m not in full agreement as the shield effectively acts as extends that are harder to obtain than in most other STGs I’ve played. It is a fair challenge I think, but a challenge all the same.

The scoring system briefly touched on earlier is quite fun to utilize in game. It is almost completely dependent on your lock on shots (outside of not continuing which like most titles destroys your overall score). The multiplier given to your locked on kills is entirely dependent on the meter that powers it. If it is full, you are granted the maximum lock on amount (x16) to any destroyed enemy/object visibly on the screen. Making good use of this in key situations is critical to racking up massive scores. This system is heavily employed in the boss battles as well and gives you a substantial amount of points, as you can imagine.

While not a full-on Danmaku (barrage, bullet hell, manic) shooter, the game definitely has several instances where the screen is filled to that degree, but i’d say it falls somewhere in between overall. Your ship’s hit box is bigger than Dodonpachi and other similar games, but certainly not full sized either. You can still squeeze in between pretty tight bullet windows with the edges of your craft.

All in all, I have really enjoyed Kamui and intend to keep playing it for high score as well as obtaining a one credit clear. Having spent sometime with the scoring system, I’m definitely improving my score steadily, but as it requires more risks to wait for the maximum multiplier on kills, the difficulty increases a decent bit. I have not been able to get further than level 3 end boss when playing for score.

I hope that gives some insight into Kamui. It is a very fun game, I fully recommend it based on quality above all. Also, the price is hard to beat selling for at most $8 in most instances. I look forward to playing more of the title, as well as playing the other two games in the trilogy.

-Andrew “Dingo” O-X T.

 

Link to Kamui on Steam:

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