Acceleration of SUGURI X-Edition

A game by Orange_Juice and Rockin' Android for PC and PS3, originally released in 2011.

Rockin’ Android is a Los Angeles based publisher that specializes in bringing Japanese indie games (called "doujin" games in Japan) over to the US. Rockin’ Android has only been around since 2008, but they have already worked on bringing over a number of games to the U.S. PC market, including:

Qlione (previously released as Qualia in Japan)
Qlione (pronounced Q-lee-oan-nay) is a vector-based 2D shooter developed by Shindenken. It looks a bit like Geometry Wars, except that you’re taking on enormous segmented enemies against a fluid background that stretches and undulates as you move through the environment. It really needs to be seen in motion to be fully understood, because the screenshots just don’t do it justice.

Qlione and its sequel are available on PSN, released together as Qlione Evolve in December of 2010.

Flying Red Barrel ~ Diary of a Little Aviator ~
Flying Red Barrel is a vertically-scrolling shooter developed by Orange_Juice, featuring a Red Baron-style biplane going up against a series of enemy planes, dirigibles, and other bullet-dispensing airships. However, this is no dogfighter. Planes are outfitted with huge rockets and energy-based projectiles, and shooting down enemies causes flurries of coins to enter the playfield. The stylized look of the game is punctuated by vibrant colors, thick black outlines, and sepia-toned characters which appear on the sides of the screen during gameplay to deliver story elements.

This is a series of bullet hell shooters from Platine Dispositif, which is made up of GUNDEMONIUM ReCollection, GundeadliGne, and Hitogata Hapa. What sets these games apart from other shooters of the kind is that rather than piloting a cutting-edge spaceship or mecha, you are instead controlling a little girl with an array of impressive weapons. And, rather than a space theme, the action takes place in a number of fantastic environments against other girls and fantasy-inspired craft. GUNDEMONIUM and GundeadliGne are both horizontal scrollers, while Hitogata Hapa is vertical.

GUNDEMONIUM ReCollection was released on PSN in June of 2010.

Crescent Pale Mist
Crescent Pale Mist is a game that was originally developed by ClassiC Shikoukairo for PC in Japan in 2006. Like many of the games that Rockin’ Android chooses to publish, Crescent Pale Mist has a heavily anime-style influence, with a young female cast dressed in dark Victorian-inspired outfits. However, unlike their previously published titles, this game is not a straightforward shooter, but rather a sidescrolling action-adventure game.

Crescent Pale Mist was released on PSN in November of 2010. We have a full overview here.

And this brings us to the subject of this profile, a game called Acceleration of SUGURI X-Edition. Rockin’ Android had already published this game on the PC in the United States as part of the SUGURI Perfect Edition collection, which includes SUGURI, Acceleration of SUGURI, and Acceleration of SUGURI X-Edition. And now they have brought it to the PS3 via PSN.

This series of games was also developed by Orange_Juice. Like GUNDEMONIUM, it is a shmup that features a little girl (Suguri) going into battle, but the gameplay is quite different. The original game, SUGURI, is a horizontally-scrolling 2D shmup that takes place over rotating 3D backgrounds. It has a sci-fi theme, and you will find yourself going up against numerous rocket- and bullet-firing spaceships. You are equipped with energy-based projectiles – which you can fire in any direction via an auto-lock system – and a dash maneuver.

The dash move sets the game apart from other shmups by allowing you to speed up to evade and graze enemy projectiles. But doing so causes your Heat meter to increase, which results in you taking additional damage when hit. However, another benefit to dashing is that it leaves a series of rings behind you (sort of like a reverse NiGHTs), and if enemy projectiles pass through the rings, it will build up your Hyper meter and allow you to unleash a special attack. This offers some balance and prevents players from simply dashing their way through the entire game (plus, this is not an effective strategy against bosses). Mastering this maneuver is key to success and adds another layer of strategy to the shooter formula.

Acceleration of SUGURI
Fast forward to the sequel, Acceleration of SUGURI, which is a completely different sort of game. It still features 2D characters on rotating 3D backgrounds, and the look and feel of the weapons is very similar to the original, but now it’s a shooter/fighter combo instead of a shmup.

The game feels like an amalgamation of a number of different games. For one, it is reminiscent of Bangai-O Spirits with tiny characters on the screen and a wide variety of weapons, each with their own set of strategies. Second, it shares traits with the Zone of Enders games in that it is a highly anime-influenced game with lock-on and dash maneuvers. But all-in-all, it seems most like a 2D version of Virtual-On, in that it’s a fast-paced 1 on 1 projectile-based fighter with a wide array of colorful bullets and huge explosions, with lock-on and dash maneuvers.

Acceleration of SUGURI carries over a number of elements from its 2D shmup origins and turns it into an arena-based 2D fighting game. Each battle takes place within a circle, and the camera zooms in and out based on how close the fighters are to one another. Weapons are, in one (hyphenated) word: over-the-top. Each character has her own selection of projectile weapons, ranging from a series of homing missiles (which are larger than the characters themselves), to beams of electricity, to energy based projectiles, crystals, giant chains, and more. There are even a few melee attacks mixed in for good measure.

At the outset, the player is able to select between a variety of playable characters – Suguri among them – all of whom are girls, and each of whom has her own unique abilities. For instance, one of the characters, Nanako, fights indirectly using a series of hovering “options” that can fire lasers and other projectiles. This works similarly to Moses Longhorn’s Satellite Lasers from Weapon of Choice, which allows him to fire a series of laser-emitting satellites. The options can be made to follow Nanako around or hover away from her, offering an added challenge in versus modes as the character’s attacks don’t originate directly from her body.

As in the previous game, the characters have health meters and heat meters, and are able to perform dash maneuvers to evade attacks. Doing so builds up the heat meter and causes the player to take increased damage. As before, your power meter allows you to fire a super attack, which can also be modified by launching it while holding down one of your other attack buttons.

The battles are extremely frenetic and fast-paced, and are generally fought at some distance, as characters’ attacks are largely projectile-based. Added to the player’s repertoire is the addition of a shield, which allows players to become impervious to damage for a short period

The game can be played as 1P vs. CPU or as a 2P versus fighter, and the game also features a single-player story mode. The PSN version features new artwork by Keiko Sakurai, as well as some additional side stories that were not present in the original release.

As mentioned, Rockin’ Android is a publisher, not a developer. However, they seem to have generated a number of productive relationships with Japanese doujin game-makers, and it is their mission statement to bring interesting properties to the west that might otherwise never be known. They seem to have an eye for visually and aurally interesting games, and their President, Enrique Galvez, has a love for 2D games and has stated that his favorite game console was the Sega Saturn.

While they continue to publish on PC, Rockin’ Android’s deal to publish games via PSN should garner more exposure for the company, possibly pushing them into the direction of an Atlus for the doujin scene.