Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi

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Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi

Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi is a bullet hell shoot-em-up developed by CAVE in 2002. Its primary defining gameplay attributes are its highly complex bullet patterns, its proximity-based chip scoring system, and the lock-on focus shot utilized by the player ships, Tiger Schwert and Panzer Jäger. It was developed alongside DoDonPachi Dai-Ou-Jou and runs on the same engine, as well as utilizing many of the same sound effects and explosion graphics. Both games are also notable for the switch to pre-rendered 3D models as sprites, giving the games a distinctive (and grittier) look compared to the studio's previous works, DonPachi and DoDonPachi.

Basic Gameplay

Typical Ketsui gameplay

Ketsui is a three-button game with two playable ships and five levels. Completing all five levels under certain conditions will trigger a second loop of the game, of which there are two variations - with one ending in fighting the True Last Boss. The scoring system involves killing enemies up close to increase a multiplier, and lock-on killing enemies to "cash out" that multiplier, awarding points based on the multiplier times the point value of the enemy killed.

Controls

  • A (Press): Fires standard shots from the ship and options
  • A (Hold): Slows the ship down, fires a laser from the main ship and a lock-on shot from its options
  • B: Fires a limited-use bomb, which does large amounts of damage and makes the ship invincible for some time
  • C: Auto-fire for the standard shot

Characters

Ketsui contains two playable ships, Tiger Schwert and Panzer Jäger. Tiger Schwert has a wide shot, locks onto enemies faster, and has a slower movement speed. Panzer Jäger has a straight shot, locks onto enemies slower, and has a faster movement speed. Both ships have the same hitbox size.

Resources

Ketsui uses lives to measure player health, and starts the player at two lives. On default settings, an extra life is granted once at 20,000,000 points, and again at 45,000,000 points. Specific strategies also grant the player additional extra lives (see Ketsui/Extends)

The player starts off with three bombs at the beginning of each life. Additional bombs are granted by killing specific enemies. (see Ketsui/Bombs)

The player is given three bombs after respawning from death, regardless of how many bombs they had before. Those playing for pure survival are advised to use a bomb if they feel death is unavoidable, in order to maximize how many bombs will be available to them throughout their playthrough.

Items

Ketsui has four different types of items: power up items which increase the strength of the player's shot, bomb items which grant the player an additional bomb, 1up items which grant the player an extra life, and chips which increase the scoring multiplier.

(pictures of the items)

Scoring System

Full details: Ketsui/Scoring

WARNING! The scoring system works differently during the second loop! see Ketsui/Scoring#Second Loop

Scoring HUD.
Top: Boss multiplier
Middle: Enemy multiplier
Bottom: Countdown chip value and time

Killing enemies awards points. There are two multipliers that can increase the amount of points given, known as the boss multiplier and the enemy multiplier. The boss multiplier is equal to the value of all chips picked up during the stage, and is used when killing the boss, and the enemy multiplier is used when killing enemies with the lock-on shot.

Maximizing the amount of high-value chips you pick up is the key to increasing your multiplier. Killing enemies up close with the standard shot awards higher value chips - up to five, depending on distance. After this, a brief countdown is initiated, shown under the multipliers. During this countdown, killing enemies with the lock-on shot will also award chips, of the same value, regardless of distance, until the countdown runs out.

This cycle - killing with the standard shot to start a countdown, killing enemies with the lock-on shot to cash out the multiplier and gain more chips, and repeating once the countdown runs out - is the primary building block of Ketsui's scoring system.

Stage Completion Points

At the end of each stage, the boss multiplier is used to award additional points based on the number of bombs and lives remaining. Each life (including the current life) grants five hundred points times the boss multiplier, and each bomb grants fifty points times the boss multiplier.

Advanced Gameplay

Hidden Extends

Recommended shooting order for the stage 3 midboss extend
Stage 3

Destroying all pieces of the midboss battleship before killing it will grant a 1up item. Note that the turret that shoots pink bullets in a circular pattern (18, right) will destroy other pieces on death, so saving it until last is recommended. All pieces must be manually shot down by the player in order for the requirement to be satisfied.

Empty Locking

Full details: Ketsui/Empty Locking

Killing enemies with the standard shot grants chip items and starts a countdown, and killing with the lock-on shot during countdown grants additional chips on top of cashing out the multiplier for the enemy killed. However, the chips granted when lock-on killing enemies in countdown are not spawned by killing the enemy itself. They're instead spawned from the explosions after the enemy is killed. This means that recieving the lock-on chips from an exploding enemy does not necessarily require that the enemy was killed with the lock-on shot.

By killing an enemy with the standard shot to start a countdown, and timing a switch to the lock-on shot so it's active by the time the enemy is exploding, the game will grant the chips for standard-killing the enemy, and also grant the lock-on chips during the enemy's explosion.

Switching to the lock-on shot to gain additional chips during an enemy explosion, without actually killing it with the lock-on shot, is known as empty locking.

Empty locking allows the player to gain more chips from enemies than would otherwise be possible, at the cost of not cashing out the multiplier on the empty locked enemy, since the enemy is not killed with the lock-on shot. It is recommended that new players not focus on empty locking, and only slowly introduce it into their play with more easily empty-lockable enemies as they improve, as better routing and execution are far more relevant skills for achieving high scores than frequent empty locking.

Second Loop

Completing all five levels under certain conditions will trigger a second loop of the game. There are two variations of the second loop, called the Omote loop and the Ura loop. During the second loop, the scoring system entirely changes (see Ketsui/Scoring#Second Loop)

The Omote loop is reached upon beating the game with no continues, and with a sum of deaths and bombs used less than or equal to six.

The Ura loop is reached upon beating the game with no continues, with no deaths and no bombs used, and with at least 120,000,000 points. The Ura loop ends with a fight against Evaccaneer DOOM, the True Last Boss.