These interviews with superplayers Yusemi-SWY, Clover-TAC, and GFA2-ISO were featured in the May 2007 issue of Arcadia alongside the results of a Mushihimesama Futari scoring competition the magazine held.

Consequently, the scores displayed here are no longer current; Clover-TAC has bested his Maniac score and holds the current WR, GFA-2ISO’s Original score has been beat by 50 million, and Ultra mode has been counterstopped by both KK and Yusemi-SWY.

One thing to keep in mind is the way Japanese players talk about “creating patterns,” which essentially means creating and memorizing a route through a difficult section. It can be confusing at first since we talk about “routes” in English, and usually reserve  “patterns” for enemy bullet patterns.

Mushi Futari @shmupsforum
Mushi Futari @STG Weekly

Mushihimesama Futari Superplayer Interviews

with Yusemi-SWY, Clover-TAC, and ISO2
featured in Arcadia #84, May 2007

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Yusemi-SWY.

ULTRA MODE – Yusemi-SWY
2,706,177,212

—Please share with us your feelings having achieved this top score in Mushihimesama Futari Ultra mode.

Yusemi: I’m very happy.

—Why did you choose Ultra mode and Reco as your character?

Yusemi: I liked Reco from the previous Mushihimesama game (laughs), so I just chose her again for this one. As for Ultra mode, in Mushihimesama I played Ultra but only went for the clear, so for Futari I decided I would make Ultra mode my main focus for scoring.

—How much more (in terms of both time and goals) do you think you’ll put into Futari Ultra?

Yusemi: I want to keep going as far as I can. My current goal is to continue practicing scoring while steadily raising my clear percentage.

—The normal player will walk away from Futari Ultra after the first stage, but what was your reaction the first time you saw Ultra?

Yusemi: Each passing moment had me going “whoa!” and I felt really excited. It looked really awesome.

—How did you go about devising your strategy for Futari Ultra?

Yusemi: Creating patterns for each section was of course necessary, but to get further in it was also important to figure out where to bomb. Rather than save them up and see how far I could get on each run, I decided it was better to determine fixed points where I would bomb. This kind of demarcation really took a weight off my shoulders.

—And how did you determine those points?

Yusemi-SWY takes on Larsa.

Yusemi: I ranked the sections according to difficulty, and tried to improve those areas where my death rate was highest. Then I further compiled a ranked list of all the most dangerous spots. Boss attacks were the most common place to need a bomb. There’s also an element of randomness involved in some sections, so I also researched just how much an effect that had. In this way I came up with a strictly defined list of the best places to bomb.

—What advice do you have for scoring in Ultra mode?

Yusemi: First and foremost, don’t die during the stages. If you can do that, you also want to avoid dying on bosses, at least until the final section of the boss, since your score will vary greatly depending on how high the counter is. Basically scoring in Ultra is about how long you can stay alive. Just by no-missing the stage, the counter will be very high. Also, you should make sure there are a lot of bullets on screen when you cancel them. In Ultra, if you just remember that survival==scoring, I don’t think there will be any problems.

—On 12/18/2006, Mushihimesama Futari ver. 1.5 was installed in arcades, and one week later, on 12/24, you reached the stage 5 boss. Then, six days later on 12/30, you reached the second form of Larsa. Please tell us about that experience.

Yusemi: Each time I practiced, I would continue after dying and play through to the end. During each session I spent about 2000 yen (1 play is 50 yen, so ~40 credits worth). I spent most of the time refining my patterns, and I would also practice just dodging (without firing) boss patterns that I still felt unsure about or wanted to increase my experience with. The most I ever spent in a single day practicing was 20000 yen (~400 credits). Normally you feel really bad continuing that much and occupying a single cab for so long when other players are waiting, but the game center I go to, Goody 21, is almost all regulars who understood. Being able to practice to my heart’s content like that was a big advantage.

—And tell us about that moment on 1/13/2007, when you thought you had cleared Futrari Ultra…

Yusemi: I defeated the second form of Larsa and thought, “Yes, I did it!”, but then I heard that voice… “Oh ho ho!” and realized the game was still continuing. I’m done for, I thought to myself. Practicing Larsa’s patterns is of course important, but if you don’t get there with any lives or bombs it won’t matter anyway. So figuring out how to squeeze those resources out of the previous parts of the game will be the biggest challenge. My prior experience with Dodonpachi Daioujou and Mushihimesama should help me out here.

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GFA2-ISO.

ORIGINAL MODE – GFA2-ISO
505,956,758

—Please share with us your feelings having achieved this top score in Mushihimesama Futari Original mode.

ISO: I reached the goal I set so I’m happy.

—Why did you choose Original mode and Palm as your character?

ISO: The scoring style in this mode was a good fit for me, and I chose Palm because he was easy to control and easy to score with.

—How much more (in terms of both time and goals) do you think you’ll put into Futari Original?

ISO: Basically, I’ll play until I feel satisfied with the score. I think I’ll be playing Original a little longer. But I can be pretty fickle, so who knows if my motivation will continue. (laughs)

—What do you think sets you apart from other Futari Original players?

ISO: I think it comes down to the fact that I’ve spent more time focusing on and ironing out the uncertain sections in the latter half of the game. I use a bomb on the st4 boss and on the st5 boss, and that’s it. Though that means I’ve also mostly ignored the earlier stages.

—Would you say your guiding principle as a player is “removing uncertainties”, then?

ISO: I think Original mode is all about executing very precise patterns. You can use bombs, but you want to use as few as possible to avoid damaging your score. It would be great if you could just bomb through every hard part, but in reality its not possible. Even for the last boss, after using your 6 bombs its like, “do your best and dodge now!” With the stage counter at 70,000 and above, the st5 boss is incredibly difficult. Once it reaches that point, the rank causes the enemy bullets to fly at an insane speed.

—For players looking to score well in a no-miss run of Mushihimesama Original, what dangers should they be on the look out for?

ISO: If you let even one or two zako enemies get even a single shot off, you’ll probably lose a life. At 70,000 rank and above you really need to have memorized where the enemies spawn.

—Any other scoring advice?

ISO: I’m sure everyone knows this, but if you just use laser where the enemy swarms appear you’ll lose a lot of score. Also, if your gem counter somehow goes off from your plans during a boss fight, you should stop firing and wait for it to fall to where it should be. “Always have a contingency plan”, as they say.

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Clover-TAC.

MANIAC MODE – Clover-TAC
950,569,417

—Please share with us your feelings having achieved this top score in Mushihimesama Futari Maniac mode.

TAC: It was a very busy at my work this time, so I’m just very happy to have made it.

—Why did you choose Maniac mode and Reco as your character?

TAC: I chose Maniac because I liked the way you could manage the multiplier. Also, seeing the screen go crazy during a bullet cancel is a nice feeling. I chose Reco because her movement speed felt the most fitting to me.

—How much more (in terms of both time and goals) do you think you’ll put into Futari Maniac?

TAC: I intend to keep playing until I reach my goal of 1 billion. 1 Or until I get bored or collapse, whichever comes first. (laughs)

—The second place player is a full 200m points below you! What do you think is the difference between you and other players?

TAC: I haven’t seen many of their patterns, but I’m guessing most of them are different from mine. I think its important to find a way to distinguish yourself from others in order to get ahead.

—Are there any other players you’d consider your rival?

TAC: No one in particular. In a competition like this, whether you win or lose, in order to have no regrets its important to do all you personally can within the limited time you’re given. My free time was very limited for this competition. Right up till the deadline I was refining my patterns, and I only had time to put full runs together on the weekends. I also worked on my scoring strategy outside of the game center.

—Are there any secrets for making good patterns?

TAC: You want to make sure your gem counter stays at 9999 for each section. There really aren’t specific areas to focus on per se; each section contributes cumulatively to your total score.

—What about difficult parts, or sections you struggled with?

TAC: For both score and survival, stage 3 is hellish. I don’t have it consistently down yet so its still giving me troubles.

—Can you give any hints or tips for stage 3?

TAC: If you’re late in destroying the Rezza Zomu beetles, for some reason enemies that normally don’t shoot will start shooting at you. For the first beetle I’ve been able to incorporate this into my pattern, but I might still change it. Also, this is unrelated, but I wanted to note that since this scoring competition has ended, I’ve updated my patterns for stage 2 quite a bit. In fact, I’m still developing them.

The following conversation with K.K. and Yusemi-SWY was part of a later interview, conducted after K.K. had counterstopped Futari Ultra as part of a different competition. I’ve appended it here for good measure.

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K.K. and Yusemi-SWY.

Ultra Mode Counterstop

—K.K, you’ve now counterstopped Futari Ultra. Can you tell us about the experience?

K.K.: I had already moved on to Deathsmiles, but when I heard rumors about a Futari counterstop I thought I’d take it up again. After practicing for 4 days I’d reached 3.97 billion, but from there I wasn’t making much progress. I finally got it after two weeks of practice, the day before the competition deadline.

—Since you had already achieved a score that wasn’t far from the counterstop, it seems like this would just be a matter of putting up another, slightly higher score. But instead it was quite difficult, wasn’t it?

K.K.: Yeah, it was. My previous score was already in the ballpark, and I’d cleared Futari more than 20 times, so my attitude was like “this shouldn’t be too hard.” That was quite naive of me. I also kept dying and losing my counter, so I had to adjust my patterns to be as consistent as possible. To be specific, instead of playing for 2 to 3 hours and maybe getting one chance at the counterstop in that time, I changed my strategy to one of “quality over quantity.” The theoretical limit for points is 4.2 billion so there isn’t much room for error; a counterstop playthrough will need 4 billion.

Yusemi: In a game this difficult, keeping the counter up is no mean feat.

K.K.: In this game, stage 5 is especially important–both the stage and boss. If you compromise even slightly in your scoring it will be very difficult to make the counterstop. If you aren’t going for score then you won’t mind so much if you die, and you can be more daring with your movements. But with a scoring run, that pressure is incredible…

Yusemi: If a player has scored well and is close to the counterstop, just watching him on the 5th stage or last boss is incredibly nervewracking.

KK’s counterstop was not available,
but Western superplayer Gus
recently counterstopped Futari.

—That’s got to be one of the toughest things about Futari Ultra. In an easier game you can relax a bit on the last boss, but here you have to be focused until the very end.

K.K.: That’s right. Of all the STGs I’ve played until now, this has the hardest last boss. There were times when I’d be doing poorly and get into a really negative mindset, thinking I’d never make the counterstop by the deadline.

—Finally, looking back at your experience with Futari Ultra, please share any thoughts or feelings you have.

K.K.: Ultra mode is extremely difficult, and you won’t get through it with mediocre patterns or a half-hearted playstyle. It requires your total attention and challenges you to create very refined, precise patterns. This game improved my abilities as a scorer. I feel very grateful that I was able to play a game that taught me so much.

Yusemi: I’m very glad I’ve been able to play all these difficult games that have come out lately. Just clearing Futari Ultra is incredibly challenging, and I’m really grateful to have played it. I loved how the further you got into it, the more walls kept coming up, and it gave you the chance to devise your own strategies, persevere, and overcome.