A while back, gunbird18 loaned me his Fire Shark pcb, a stellar and brutally difficult Toaplan title and the sequel to Sky Shark. It's super fun, but demanding and you do have to do a lot of memorizing, more so than Sky Shark.
It does not have side-fields, which is unusual for a Toaplan title, so what is on screen is all there is. Which somehow sounds like it's easier to deal with but trust me - it isn't. The enemies, popcorn or large are all very tricky and the first few time you play this game you will take a shot or to to the face when you thought you would be within distance to seal bullets from the enemy ships.
The music is very cool and it has a bit of the same feel of Sky Shark, but not as good. I only think of the stage one music when I think of this game and I cannot even remember what the later stages sound like, but maybe that's because the game gets silly hard really quick.
The difficultly lies in two places in this game - the usual shot-dodging and anticipation mechanic of most Toaplan titles and dodging unwanted power-ups. Yup - dodging power-ups.
At first, you'd think that you'd want to snag a few and change shot types, but you really only want to stick with the standard blue spread shot, a carry over from Sky Shark or the red fire laser, which is stellar for bosses. The green shot sucks and should be avoided at all costs. The problem lies in that the power ups bounce around the screen from top to bottom, side to side in an almost random pattern. Unlike Twin Cobra where the power ups stay in the middle of the screen for the most part.
The other downer is that there are a lot of power ups that appear throughout the game and in some places, there may be 5-6 item carriers and the screen quickly becomes filled with a ton of power ups. Ugh.
Besides that, the game is awesome. The ship controls like the Sky Shark ship and you get the same satisfaction of killing scads of popcorn enemies when you use the spread shot and taking down bosses are sweet tapping fests that feel like real accomplishments when you take them out.
I set this high score after bringing the pcb out again after a number of months on my first credit, finally making it past the 4th stage which had been giving me trouble earlier.
So, I kinda missed updating this blog with this score as it was a while back, shortly after the Mid-Missouri Shmup Meet at 48,704,340, with C-S and a (low) max hit of 303. I think at the time I was so close to the second loop, I didn't think to update the blog with this score.
I did think enough of it to update the thread on shmups with the score though. I only caught it as I was taking over the DDP high score thread over on Cave-STG and knew my score hadn't been right there for a while.
I'm in the process of wiping and reformatting my MAME box as it kinda crapped out on me and then getting back to this bad boy. One of the few games - along with Sky Shark and Castlevania - that I can play anytime and enjoy it.
Looks fantastic and I am really sorry that I do not own an XBox yet! Ketsui, Mushi Futari, Deathsmiles, Guwange and now DFK. Yup, it's about time to own one...
I have never been a big fan of console ports, but this system is really making me change my mind! After playing Ketsui at gunbird18's meet a while back, I was impressed by how true to the pcb it was. And seeing as how I can't just go out and buy DFK, Deathsmiles and Mushi Futari, never mind shelling out a healthy chunk for Ketsui, I might be tempted to pick up a 360 and go with the flow. Cave certainly seems to be very interested in pushing the colsole port format. Some have even said that it looks like they are using the arcade to test for the home market.
In any case, it's hard to argue that a $200 system and $60-$80 games are a bad choice when pcb's are easily double or triple the cost of the system + game in any instance.