Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

M.U.S.H.A. (Compile)

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Today is yet another Sunday for Shmuppreciation month, which I feel is a time to play shmups and not spend all day reading about them.  It is for this reason that I have chosen a game that needs little introduction: M.U.S.H.A.  In Japan, this is part of a larger series known as Aleste, but given that only two titles came out in the US, seemingly almost unrelated, and its roots stem to the Japanese MSX and rare PC-Engine Super CD titles I have avoided the series personally and will do the same in this write-up.  For technical reasons, the game is known as Musha Aleste: Full Metal Fighter Ellenor in Japan and in the US it has the acronym title that stands for “Metallic Uniframe Super Hybrid Armor”.  Basically the game deals with mechs that can power up guns and shields, not normally a topic I’m very fond of, but this particular title was made into a vertical shmup.  You play as the main character Terri (Ellenor in Japan, hence the title), who is the last living mech pilot to protect a space colony named “Little Japan” from obliteration by a series of mechs.  As a result you blast through a bunch of levels filled with a bunch of things that explode in impressive ways.

Thanks to the Sega Genesis architecture, shmups perform quite well on the system and M.U.S.H.A. is no exception.  There will be tons of enemies, power-ups and bullets on screen but this title won’t skip a beat in keeping up with all of them.  In truth it functions much like the 19xx series in terms of how you pick up power-ups and how enemies act, but with a lot more variety to situational combat as well as much improved level design.  For a long time this rare title was seen as an expensive “holy grail” of Genesis/Mega Drive shmups, but thanks to Virtual Console this can be had in any region for a low (and great) price.  I, of course, jumped the gun and hunted down an expensive original version prior to its release on VC, thus decreasing the value a few short months after purchase.  It’s okay though, this game is well worth the money.

Written by Fred Rojas

March 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm

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