Mahou Daisakusen is a vertically scrolling shmup which may have a story
involving blowing stuff up. Play the World version, Sorcer Striker, and
you can actually get some narrative!
Mahou Daisakusen was Raizing's first game, released in 1993. Raizing was a
branch of the still extent 8ing, and was mostly relegated to developing
arcade shmups. Unique for it's time, Mahou uses a fantasy setting mixed
with modern technology. Flying castles, armored turtles, steam-driven
robots, and dragons exist alongside huge mecha, laser trip wires and gun
emplacements. It's a nice change of pace after playing Raiden Fighters and
Raizing decided to include a story and put a slight amount of narrative in
the game. Sorcer Striker presents it in readable Engrish. The Gobligan
army is attacking, and four warriors have stepped up to challenge them. It
will be the greatest battle of magic. After each boss, the characters will
drop a one-liner usually taunting the now defeated enemy.
Controls are basic shmup controls. Tapping A fires a stream of bullets,
keep tapping to keep firing. B drops a bomb. Unlike later Raizing games,
all characters use the same bomb. Powerups come in the form of coins and
spell books. Coins power up the frontal shot which adds bullets and a tiny
bit of spread. Spell books come in the form of red H for Homing books,
blue W for Wide books, and green F for Frontal books. Each character has
their own set of attacks. These four characters became a sort of
collective mascot for Raizing and appeared in many later games. If you've
read my writeup on Battle Garegga, you'll see them mentioned there as well.
Let's look at them a little closer here:
Gain is a fighter with a monkey on his shoulder. His goal doesn't seem to
be fighting for a good cause, he wants to prove he's the strongest. His
homing attack drops several feathers which lock on and rush towards
enemies. His wide attack is hatchets thrown at enemies. His frontal
attack is piercing green swords, which later became his Battle Garegga
Chitta is a witch who trips on her own feet while climbing into her battle
craft. She says she'll be successful, and then become famous. Her homing
attack is a pair of flamethrowers that rotate to hit enemies. For a wide
attack, she flings ice cubes all over. For her frontal assault, she uses
green penetrating lightning.
Miyamoto is what happens when someone decides that dragons are cool, and
samurai are cool, so putting them together should give shmuppers full
erections. They were right. Miyamoto is a dragon with a katana who
foregoes a battle craft and chooses to flap his own wings really fast.
Even the Cyvern dragons aren't as badass as Miyamoto. For Miyamoto, the
battle is personal because Kage killed his master. His homing attack
shoots aimed fireballs and would become Chitta's options in Battle Garegga.
His wide attack fires bombs and would return for Battle Garegga. His
frontal attack is a stream of shuriken.
Bornnam likes bones. He seems to have some kind of crazy plan and
defeating the Gobligans is Phase 1. He also has a bone fetish. His homing
attack shoots a femur straight ahead, which turns at a right angle to hit
enemies. He throws bats at bad guys for his wide attack. His frontal
attack is a pair of very powerful piercing skulls.
All of the characters are pretty well balanced and have enough firepower to
beat the game. I haven't done any really methodical testing, but it seems
that Bornnam's attacks do more damage than the other characters. Miyamoto
is pretty strong all around, Chitta's homing attack is great, and Gain's
frontal attack is very powerful. Pick one you like and go to town.
The graphics in Mahou Daisakusen aren't particularly fancy for 1993, but
extremely functional. I didn't see tons of rotation or scaling, or other
fancy tricks. Where the graphics shine is in creativity more than
presentation. In the first level alone you'll see dragons with gun packs,
robots, giant turtles, a tortoise with an armed fortress for a shell, lots
of tanks, flying red bat creatures, and missile carriers. While in life
stone is not very aerodynamic, in Mahou many stone structures fly high
above the ground, such as the castle in the first stage. Even the tanks
have rounded domes and little pieces that look like antennae. After
playing a ton of shooters using variations on tanks/planes/helicopters,
it's downright exhilarating to see so many enemy designs.
The music is very good. It has that buzz that immediately identifies it as
video game music and actually sounds a bit like Sega Genesis music.
Explosions sound good, though they don't have a solid low-end thump. I
don't think anyone will stick this music on their iPod, it's just really
good background music for a video game.
Once you have selected your character, you'll get a neat takeoff sequence.
Bornnam summons his ship around him, Miyamoto just flaps really hard which
is cool to see. The first stage begins with some very fast flying over a
forest and an ocean. You'll meet two dragons with gun packs on their
backs. Shortly after the second one, you'll catch up with a flying castle.
This castle is more than a fortress. An entire town exists surrounded by
these flying castle walls, and it is under attack. Watch, and you'll
actually see people getting chased around and cheering you on. The midboss
is a turtle creature that lives in a fortress instead of a shell. After
taking out the two towers, you can bomb it if you want though I suggest
saving bombs for later. Towards the end of the level you'll meet another
midboss, a skinny red mech called Bashinet. He fires blue balls that
explode to about the same radius as your bombs and freeze your character to
death. Using Wide or Homing, it's easy to take out his guns. He'll leave
instead of being destroyed.
The Stage 1 boss is an airplane with three dragon heads. Only in Mahou
Daisakusen have I seen such a unique combination of cool things. This
fight is really easy. The dragons do breath fire, but they'll yell before
doing so. Just get out of the way and you'll be OK. The red enemies being
pooped out the back of the boss can ram you or shoot you but they die
really easily so they shouldn't get that chance. Just concentrate on one
side, then the other. Once the two outer heads are destroyed, you can milk
those red guys for a while or just go for the kill.
Stage 2 opens over gray clouds. Remember those green tanks from the first
stage? The Gobligans liked them so much they painted them blue and
attached rockets to them to create flying tanks. They still aren't too
dangerous. You'll also face some big flying mouths that fire bullet
spreads. You can sit in front and dodge most of it, but don't stay there
too long or you'll be hit by their forward attack. Not long after squaring
off against two of these face dudes, something starts poking through the
clouds. It turns out that Stage 2 is the assault on the giant battleship.
In this case, the giant battleship is an airship that I believe most Cids
would be pleased with. It's an actual ship, with a few propellors that
could never keep a craft of this size aloft. Right when you meet it, a
tower that looks a bit like a siege tower or maybe a rook from Chess
detaches and starts shooting at you. I suggest killing it before taking on
the other enemies, as it'll fire a bunch of aimed bullets that can
seriously cramp your style. If you haven't guessed already, Mahou
Daisakusen is not a bullet hell shmup and pretty much your entire sprite is
vulnerable. This stage also has two midbosses, one after the other. The
first one is a pair of huge turrets. These aren't too bad as they just
fire forward. What is bad is the two smaller turrets on top of each large
turret that fire a 3-way bullet spread. While it isn't required, dropping
a bomb here is a huge help. Conveniently, you are given four of them right
in front of the turrets. Immediately after the turrets are destroyed,
you'll come across what I believe is the main control deck of the ship
(superstructure?). This mid boss has two bays that endless tanks drive out
of and about a dozen small turrets that pop out and fire at you. These are
actually pretty easy to beat without bombing. Stay in one corner, wait for
as many bullets as possible to be fired, then start moving. Once the
turrets are destroyed, blue bombs will start flying in. If they are
destroyed on top of the tower, it'll do some nice damage.
The boss of Stage 2 is a flying box with a skull. Change the art style a
bit, and this could be one of Dr. Wily's skull ships. The pincers will
wave around and if he gets too close they can kill you. His projectiles
are quite varied, though once you see them they aren't too hard to get
around. He fires some blue skulls which will home in, let them come after
you then quickly move around them. He fires a spread of green bullets from
his forehead which is pretty easy to dodge, but if you use your Frontal
attack they do blend in so be cautious. He will also occasionally stop,
fold his arms, and ram you. Unlike an actual Wily boss, he does not have a
set pattern and can throw these attacks out in any order.
Stage 3 starts out looking like the first stage, with a forest background.
Then, the scrolling stops as you reach an enormous wall. On either side is
a huge demon in a cage. Kill the demons and tear down that wall! The
level takes place in a stone corridor line with archways. Unlike most
vertical shmups, Mahou has terrain that needs to be avoided. Unlike most
horizontal shmups, simply touching a wall won't kill you. Early into the
corridor, you'll be greeted by a bunch of green blobs. They have a bit of
resistance for normal enemies, but there is an easy way to dispose of them
if they pile up. Look closely and you'll see a laser running across the
hall. Pass it, and an alarm will sound and a pile of blocks will slam the
passage shut in front of you, smashing those green blobs. The blocks can
then be shot through. The narrow hallway opens up so you can fight a pair
of gargoyles who have had their faces peeled off. These guys aren't too
deadly, firing a pair of fireballs each. They each drop a bomb. The space
will narrow again, and gets narrower as the right-hand wall begins trying
to crush you. Just don't sit on the bottom of the screen and you'll be OK.
Suddenly, the scrolling stops and a new track plays.
Bashinet is back, and he has a few new tricks. First, he has traded his
freeze bombs for buzz saws which he can throw around. Second, he now fires
a few easy to dodge blue bullets from his back. Third, he has a hip new
blue shot that can strafe the room and twist around itself. It's a little
like Raiden's toothpaste laser. Deal enough damage and a big chunk will be
blown off, but he can be seen escaping.
AND THAT'S NOT ALL!
The wall behind Bashinet collapses, flooding the room. The water actually
pushes you back, though normal control resumes before any enemies show up.
Besides some throwaway enemies, the first important enemies in this section
are red tortoises with spiky shells. They take a few hits to kill but I've
never actually been attacked by one, they don't seem to aggressive despite
that wicked shell. Green blobs will stick to you and slow you down. Some
blue heads vaguely reminiscent of Giger's xenomorph will try to suck you
in. Much deadlier are the dragons, which duck down into the depths and
surface. I found it hard to tell when they were below me and when they
were on the same level. Don't sit on top of them, they scale up pretty
The boss is a very strange amoeba-like beast. It pops out of the wall and
starts throwing a bunch of destructible bullets your way. Piercing weapons
help a lot here. The movement patterns are a little odd. The boss has two
arms, and at least one must be gripping a wall. Rather than moving in
straight lines, the boss moves in wide arcs. He takes up a lot of screen
space. Be wary of where his arms will be when he moves. I was killed more
often by his arms than his projectiles by a wide margin. He has a ramming
attack as well. He will start at the top of the screen, and crawl down.
Remember Shadow Dancer and it's variants from the Gradius games? Same deal
here. Wait for it to retract one arm, dash past, then do the same when the
blob crawls back up. Note the animation on it's head when it is crawling.
That wild flapping is hilarious.
For the fourth stage, you'll be tackling a desert, a ruined city, and
space. This is another case of crazy shmup geography. In the desert
portion, pods will burrow through the sand and leap out at you. You'll
encounter a few big helicopters, but if you have some firepower built up
they shouldn't pose much problem. The enemies that give me the most
trouble are the gliders in the smashed city. You'll face two of them at
once. What kills me most is that to beat them, you have to wait for the
middle to split open and reveal a face. The face shoots straight down, you
shoot straight up. Use an attack that lets you move out of the way. On a
positive note, each glider drops a bomb for you.
At the end of the city street, you'll fly out into space. While the other
characters have their vessels, Miyamoto has to hold his breath in space.
The boss is a missile that comes from behind. Actually, only the nose
section can be damaged, and when blown up it reveals...
He ditches the usual shoulder guns and instead opts for strapping an entire
missile base to his back. On each side are six slots that fire missiles at
you. They aren't homing, but they try to move towards you. Sit in the
middle and they'll go right past or be destroyed. When he moves to the
bottom of the screen, get away from the center because he uses the recoil
from his huge cannons to push him back up. Look for the green charging in
front of the barrels, as there is no audio cue. He can also fire a small
bullet spread but generally this isn't too deadly. Once defeated, he'll
hobble off again but he is starting to look pretty beat up. I don't blame
him; most giant robots don't survive being blown up even once.
I'm not sure what Stage 5 is, but I refer to it as the hell level due to
the red background and all the stone structures. Fucking KICK ASS tune in
this level, sounds like classic Capcom at their best. You'll need to navigate around these stone blocks. This level is
full of mages and has some very cool design elements. Some enemies will
punch those blocks and slam them against a wall. Get caught, lose a life.
The laser trip wires make a return here, but instead of a crushing wall
they open cages with nasty enemies. The second trip wire opens the midboss
cage, which is a worm that looks like hideous vagina dentata. Past that
tumor, the hell is replaced with cold metal. You've reached the war
factory of the Gobligan empire.
The domed tanks of the previous stages are here, but unfinished. So many
of them, that at one point nearly the entire screen is filled with these
things. While they don't shoot back, they do give points. The more deadly
tanks here have flat turrets, and actually come out of conveyor belts which
don't have material visibly going in but have no trouble stamping out
tanks. You'll also see more of the first two bosses on girders, though
they are much softer now and don't shoot back. The huge castles DO shoot at
you, firing both a wide salvo of aimed bullets and a screen-wide spread.
Hopefully you've been saving some bombs for this section.
The boss is a little wizard on a beach ball. He isn't very hard.
Unfortunately you don't actually fight him directly, he pulls in a bunch of
junk and smashed bits of bosses and magically bolts them together. Dragon
heads, domes, pincers, a smashed skull, all of these things are lumped
together into this hastily cobbled together weapon of meh destruction.
This is actually a pretty tough fight. He starts off with big pink skull
bullets in wide patterns. This isn't too bad. When the shoulders, loaded
with tank domes, start firing you'll be in more trouble. The bullets are
aimed and fast, and unlike the tanks these domes are very resilient and
take a lot of hits to destroy. You best bet is to work on destroying the
pincer, dragon head and shoulder on one side before taking on the other.
Having those bullets coming from just one direction is key. Once both
sides are destroyed he'll fire wider spreads of those pink skulls as well
as rotating bits of garbage, but this section is more manageable than the
In shmups, a "boss rush" is sometimes referred to as a "boss alley." In
Stage 6, you'll actually get to fight a whole crap load of bosses in an
alley, or rather in some kind of long coliseum. You'll be given a nice
pile of powerups before the fights start.
Your first boss is a two-headed dragon with rocket packs. The packs have
some pretty fierce looking bullet spreads, but they are unaimed and have
nice safe spots. Destroy those pods, then it'll jump around and shoot fire
straight down. Aim for the chest, if you picked up Wide before hand you
should be set.
After each fight, the crowd will toss items at you. It seems the better
you do, the more likely you are to get powerups. They can toss junk as
well, but it isn't lethal.
Boss 2 is a big robot with spiked ball and chain arms. Lots of moving
parts too, the animation on this guy is a joy to watch. His arms will fly
out towards you, hit the wall, then try to hit you again so be ready to
dodge twice. He can also charge, but he'll get really bouncy before doing
Boss 3 is a big ninja. This guy is a fucking DOUCHE. He moves far faster
than any other enemy in the game, his bullets are fast and cover the whole
screen, and he has a ton of HP. In what is the BEST death animation in a
shmup ever, when you do beat him he falls over, commits seppuku, and
After that fight, you'll be greeted by a pair of yellow armored dudes who
fire constant streams of bullets. They are easy to dodge, thankfully. You
can't actually kill these guys, no matter how much lead you pump into them.
uddenly, two familiar blue balls ignite on top of these guys.
Boss 4 is BASHINET! Thoroughly thrashed in his previous encounter, he now
ditches what is left of his body and snaps his head into a new armored
golem. He can make a stream of blue balls, which explode after a set time.
He can fling whirly green things at you. But once the claws on his back
are destroyed, he simply fires a thick laser spread in front of him. He
can't hit you if you sit on the side. A good homing attack like Chitta's
is perfect here. Interestingly, when defeated he explodes but instead of
leaving a crater like the other bosses, his pieces are scattered all about.
This is the end of the general audience. You now have a private audience
with King Gobligan himself. I don't think that's his name, but it's a good
fit don't you think? He looks amused, sitting in his throne. Suddenly,
his throne lowers into the ground. The castle shakes and rises up,
revealing a huge-ass face that takes up the top half of the screen. This
is the final boss.
To start, his hands will fire easily dodged diagonal shots. When they
retreat, each of his three eyes will randomly begin firing some very large
green blasts. Concentrate on one side, move to the top of the screen
behind the eye in question when it prepares to fire. His arms will now try
to crush you, be prepared to move. Once an eye is destroyed, it'll spray
death confetti instead of a laser. This is harder to dodge, but the spray
has a big open spot in the middle that you can fit through. Use bombs if
you need to.
Defeat this boss, and his castle crashes down, forming a huge chasm in the
ground. You'll be treated to some good victory music as you fly back over
the castle from Stage 1. The people in the lanes run with you, waving and
cheering you on. At the castle proper, the king and queen of the land can
be seen on the balcony.
The castle explodes! The war is not over! Is it time for Loop 2?
Bashinet Final has come to kick your ass. Like a James Bond villain, if
you don't actually see his dead body (or a crater) he isn't quite dead yet.
He still has his golem armor, but it is very tattered. He doesn't mind.
He starts flinging blue bombs that are as large as your own bombs all over.
He seems to generally aim at your vertical level, and cover most of the
horizontal space at that level. When I got to him, I used Wide and sat on
the side which seemed to lure some blasts away, but this is a hard battle.
Win, and you'll see the royal couple checking each other for wounds, a huge
crater, and at last you'll take off for your ending. Each character has
their own ending.
Keep playing, and you can start Loop 2 which has more bullets and far more
Mahou Daisakusen is an excellent, old-school shmup with a unique setting
that still hasn't been used extensively. Raizing would go on to create
some of the most iconic shmups afterwards, like Battle Garegga and
Soukyugurentai, but it all started here. No complex scoring, no invisible
bullets, just straight ahead classic shmupping done right.