Mushihimesama Futari – 2006 Developer Interview

Mushihimesama Futari – 2006 Developer Interview

This Mushihimesama Futari interview from 2006 was something I did as a fun tribute to Futari winning the annual “Top 25 Shmups of All Time” at shmupsforum. The interview is short, so I’ve added liner note comments from composers Manabu Namiki and Kimihiro Abe. I also translated the in-game dialogue between Reco and Palm, which I don’t believe has been made available in English before.

Tsuneki Ikeda - Director
Hideki Nomura - Designer
Manabu Namiki - Composer
Kimihiro Abe - Composer

Ikeda: I worked on the gameplay system and other planning/design elements. I also worked on the rough outline of the story, though that was mostly limited to guidance about how things should look and feel. The same role as usual I guess!

Nomura: I collected all the different visual ideas from the staff, and turned those into the in-game art. It was my job to make sure the world had consistency overall.

Ikeda: The first Mushihimesama had one ship and three different weapon types; it was our version of an old-school STG done in a modern style. But even with that game, I had wanted to have same sort of character selection available. For Futari we’re using that idea, but there was some concern over whether Reco should be the main or side character this time… based on the way Mushihimesama’s story ended, Reco would not have left the forest.

But for players who like her and enjoy playing her, I didn’t think having Reco unavailable would be a good idea. We also had the idea of making her the last boss, but instead we thought maybe she could share the main stage with another character. That’s why it’s not called “Mushihimesama 2”, it’s Futari. (laughs)

This time you can’t change your shot mid-game like you could in Mushihimesama. Each character has their own shot. The basic, simple gameplay is something we kept, however. How much unflavored, plain ramen can you eat? The austere challenge of Mushihimesama returns!

Palm, a "young boy from a Tibetan-ish country" as Nomura explains below.

Nomura: But we did add more cool things in the backgrounds, and a lot of cool homages and references for those who played Mushihimesama.

Ikeda: If I can be honest, when we were planning Mushihimesama Futari, if the mode select was going to take a lot of time, I didn’t want to do it. But at the same time, it’s something we couldn’t just easily remove. Originally with Mushihimesama, we developed it to be an “old-school” STG for modern audiences, but we had a lot of anxiety over whether it would succeed in this market. As an insurance measure we created Maniac mode, a more traditional bullet hell mode. (laughs) We added all our modern Cave touches to it, and it gave us a chance to present our style in a new way. For Mushihimesama Futari, we want to be more open about promoting the Original and Maniac modes together, since each has their sales appeal.

Character Design

Nomura: For the character design, we enlisted freelance illustrator Haccan. He gave us a lot of design ideas. He helped us come up with Palm’s design: a young boy from a Tibetan-ish country. He did some minor remixing of Reco’s design too, but we kept her sailor suit motif, adding some fantasy ornamentation to bring that element to the fore. Those were things Ikeda told us to put in. (laughs)

Ikeda: That’s right. Ikeda has spoken.

Nomura: Like when you said “Take it all off”…

Ikeda: And to my surprise, you actually did. (laughs)

Nomura: Yeah, at first Reco’s clothes were more modest, and you could only see a little bit of her back. But at Ikeda’s request I changed it to the design you see, where her shirt is tied together with only that little ribbon. I thought the royal emblem that she received from Aki at the end of Mushihimesama would be a good item to bind her design, so I added that as a brooch on the center of her chest. Finally, I wanted to add some metallic accessories to give her a divine aura. Reco is a goddess in Mushihimesama Futari, after all.1

Reco’s design in Mushihimesama (L) and Mushihimesama Futari (R). For Futari, note the Levi=Sense bracelet and the brooch that Aki gave her.

Our original story idea for Futari was that Reco has a restless heart, so one way or another she was going to leave the confines of the forest. Then the boy Palm appears and he offers her that chance, and together they set out on a journey around the world. But since Reco has left the forest, her divine presence that controlled the forest was now absent and strange things start happening there…

That was our first idea, but we ended up adding a more developed story for the final version. Also, the truth is, from a graphics design perspective we had exhausted all the possibilities of “insects” in the last game. (laughs) So we went for a story in Futari that allowed us to depict the world outside the Shinju Forest, like the Dinosaur boss at the end of stage 1.

Ikeda: It’s like the jump from Dragon Quest to Dragon Quest 2. (laughs)

Nomura: Because of that expansion, though, we couldn’t reuse all the same insect enemies. Every stage would need new enemies that matched that stage. We really went into detail thinking about what creatures would naturally inhabit each area; the amount of design work was intense.

Ikeda: The stages are all interconnected with the story too. At first glance it might seem like they’re just a bunch of random places, but they all connect up with the flow of the story.

Nomura: Another thing worth noting is the dialogue. If you play 2P, you’ll hear a lot of conversation between Reco and Palm. There’s a good amount in single player too, but with two players it’s practically like they’re having a continuous conversation throughout the stage. We wanted players to feel like Palm and Reco were getting to know each other as the stages progressed. Their sprites are very small, so we thought the dialogue and the cut-scene images were the best way to express that. Reco still has a childlike mind, and we wanted to show how well she got along with the 9 year old Palm, like they were childhood friends.

Character Voices

“mata atta ne”
“We meet again.”
“saa, shuppatsu da yo!”
“Let’s head out!”
“ima da, hairo-!”
“Now, Hirow!”
(before st3)
(after st3)
(before st3)
“Reco makenai mon!”
“You think Reco goes down that easily?”
Mada madaa~!
“I’m not done yet!”
(after st3)
“Palm ni warawarechau yo…”
“Palm is gonna laugh at me…”
“Reco-chan mo, ganbatteru noni…”
“But Reco-chan is still fighting…”
RecoPalmTwo Players
Stage 1「すっごーい、島が浮いてるよぉー」
“suggo~i, shima ga uiteru yo~!
“Whoaaa, the islands are floating!”
“koko wa kyoujuutachi no shima nan da”
“This is the island of monsters I’ve heard about!”
“kono kotachi mo koujuu na no?” “kyoujuushuu, tte iundayo
“Are these guys koujuu too?” “No, we call them ‘monsters’!”
St1 Boss「きゃっ、びっくりしたー」
“Kyaa, bikkuri shitaa-“
“Kyah! You startled me!”
“kore wa… kyoujuuou?!”
“Is this the king of the monsters?!
(same as single player)
Stage 2「これが雪ー?初めて見たー」
“kore ga yuki~? hajimete mita~!”
“Is this ‘snow’? I’ve never seen it before!”
“yuki de mae ga yoku mienai naa”
“There’s too much snow, I can’t see what’s ahead!”
“Uwaa~ samu~i, nannano koko~?” “koko wa suichou no umi da yo Reco-chan”
“Uwaa, it’s so cold! What is this place?”
“This is the Crystal Sea, Reco-chan!”
St2 Boss「わっ。何か出てくるキンイロ避けて!」
“Waa. nanika detekuru kiniro sakete!”
“Waa, something is coming out! Kin’iro, watch out!”
“Kaijuuou da, Hirow, tanonda yo!”
“It’s the Ocean Monster King! Hirow, I’m counting on you!”
(same as single player)
Stage 3「あれ? なんでここにいるの?」
“are? nan de koko ni iru no?”
“Huh? What are they doing here?”
“uwa~, shinju ga mori no koujuu!?”
“Uwaa, are these the koujuu from Shinju Forest?”
“kono kotachi, shinju ga mori no?” “koitsura, yaru ki manman da yo!”
“Are these little guys from the Shinju Forest?”
“These guys aren’t playing around!”
St3 Boss「シンジュが森に帰ってよぉ~」
“shinju ga mori ni kaette yo~”
“Go back to Shinju Forest, please!”
“kaere! Reco-chan ni shitagau n da!!”
“Go back! Do what Reco says!”
(same as single player)
Stage 4「みんな、止めてよ…」
“minna, yamete yo…”
“Please, everyone, just stop…”
“ee~, sato ga konna ni…”
“I can’t believe it… the village…”
(same as single player)
St4 Boss「まさかクロガネの仕業なの?」
“masaka kurogane no shiwaza no?”
“Impossible, is this Kurogane’s doing?”
“wa, sato no minna ga!”
“Oh no, the villagers!”
(same as single player)
St4 Boss Opening「やめなさい、クロガネ」
“yamenasai, kurogane”
“Stop this, Kurogane.”
“kakugo shiro! konoo~!”
“Prepare yourself! You bastard!”
(same as single player)
Stage 5「ここが噂の神殿なのね」
“koko ga uwasa no shinden na no ne”
“So this is the palace I’ve heard about.”
“mou tatakau shika nai mitai da”
“It seems we’ve got no choice but to fight.”
“koko ni iru no tte Palm no nakama nan desho?” “koko de tatakattara minnna shinjau yo!”
“These are all your people, Palm?” “If we fight here everyone will die!”
Stage 5 (middle)「待ってパルムの兄弟なんでしょ」
“matte Palm no kyoudai nan desho”
“Wait! You’re Palm’s brothers, aren’t you?!”
“yamete yo! minna kaasama ni damasareteru n da yo!”
“Stop, everyone! You’re all being deceived by our Mother!”
(same as single player)

Stage 5 Boss   

Player: Reco

Larsa 「私の!私のかわいいアキをよくも!!」
“watakushi no! watakushi no kawaii aki o yoku mo!”
“My, my dear, beloved Aki! How dare you!”

Reco 「私だってアキが死ぬなんて・・・」
“watashi datte aki ga shinu nante…”
“I, I… Aki’s death, I…”

Larsa 「ダマれ!このガキがぁっ!」
“damare! kono gaki gaa!”
“Silence! Impudent little brat!”

Player: Palm

Larsa 「こんな女をかばうなんて、馬鹿だねお前は」
“konna onna o kabau nante, baka da ne omae wa”
“Protecting this woman? You’re a fool.”

Palm 「レコちゃんは兄様を救ったんだ!レコちゃんは悪くないんだ!」
“Reco-chan wa anisama o sukutta n da! Reco-chan wa warukunai n da!”
“Reco saved my brother! She’s not bad!”

Larsa 「ふん、お前の代用品などいくらでもいる。死ね」
“fun, omae no daiyouhin nado ikura demo iru. shine”
“Heh. There’s many more Princes where you came from. Now die.”

Larsa (phase 1)

Larsa (phase 2 opening)

「ホッホッホッホ 怖いざんしょ?」
“hohohoho, kowai zansho?”
“Hohoho, are you scared now?”

Larsa (phase 2)

Larsa 「痛!まだざんすよ!」
“ita! mada zansu yo!”
“Ouch! But I’m not done yet.”

Larsa (final phase)

Player: Reco

Larsa 「森の毒でパルムもお終いだこの厄病神めが!」
“mori no doku de Palm mo oshimai da kono yakubyoukamime ga!”
“The poison from your forest will soon take Palm’s life too, you wretched goddess of the plague!” 2

Player: Palm

Larsa 「どうせお前は森の毒で長くない」
“douse omae wa mori no doku de nagakunai”
“It looks like the forest’s poison will end your life soon.”

Larsa Death

Larsa 「うげーよくもーぬぎゃー!」
“ugeee yoku mo- nugya-!”
“Ugeee, damn you!! ngyaa!”

Music (from the Mushihimesama Futari OST liner notes)

Namiki: Following up on my work for the original Mushihimesama, Cave asked me to do the music for Mushihimesama Futari. When doing music for a sequel, normally I would take a serious, hard look at the prequel, asking myself the difficult question of “what shall I take out, and what new things should I add?”

For Mushihimesama Futari, I decided not to take this approach. Instead, I looked at the concept art/rough sketches and the screenshots during development, allowing it all to wash over me: the fantasic world, the greater diversity of creatures, the story of Reco, Palm, and Larsa, and the more dynamic gameplay. This was my starting point. I personally wanted to make “purity” a theme, while also making every song match the natural setting of each stage.

Abe: I did the music for the second stage and the ending.

To go back 10 years, to 1997–at that time I was working a part-time job in the evenings at a supermarket near my house, so I could have money for music lessons. My daily routine was to stop at my local game center before work and play two credits (50 yen each), and two credits only, of my favorite STG. I only played STGs (dyed-in-the-wool STG fan here). I would never have guessed then that I’d be making music for an arcade STG today! When Namiki approached me about composing for Mushihimesama Futari, I remember my response: “Please, please, please let me do this!”

“Sea of Frozen Crystals” (stage 2) by composer Kimihiro Abe.

As for my compositions, I talked with Namiki about his idea for the songs, and I also looked at the materials Cave sent me to broaden my imagination. The image I had in mind while composing stage 2 was “cool-mint gum.” I tried to structure my music to flow with the video of the stage Cave had sent me, but unfortunately, if you do any scoring it will go out of sync… For the ending melody, I took the st1 theme and reharmonized it, adding some flourishes here and there, trying to create the atmosphere of a gentle, soft breeze floating over you.

Closing Thoughts

Ikeda: We’ve kept the simple, old-school feel of the first Mushihimesama, but updated it with a more modern, showy aesthetic this time. I think people who felt something was lacking in Mushihimesama will find this one more to their taste. (laughs) And of course, those who like the Original Mode from Mushihimesama will be able to play it here too. Our goal at Cave, in any event, is to get as many people playing as possible.

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  1. A reference to the ending of Mushihimesama, where Reco becomes the goddess protector of the forest in Aki’s place.

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