Espgaluda[a] is a 2003 manic shooter by Cave and published by AMI. It is the spiritual successor to ESP Ra.De. and is followed by Espgaluda II.

Espgaluda arcade flyer.jpg
Director(s)Tsuneki Ikeda
Producer(s)Kenichi Takano
Designer(s)Akira Wakabayashi
Hideki Nomura
Hiroyuki Tanaka
Kengo Arai
Programmer(s)Takashi Ichimura
Tsuneki Ikeda
Artist(s)Tsukasa Kado
Platform(s)Arcade, EZweb, i-mode, PlayStation 2, Yahoo Mobile
  • JP: November 2003
Genre(s)Bullet hell
Arcade systemPolyGame Master


Arcade version screenshot.

Espgaluda is an arcade game which involves firing bullets and lasers at enemies. A shield attack can be used, but it runs on a limited quantity which is indicated by a gauge at the bottom of the screen. The player earns extra lives at 4 million and 14 million points, or by obtaining the "L" extend item in the third stage.

If the player collides with a bullet, the guard barrier activates. The automatic guard barrier will consume two segments from the gauge, but will only last as long as one segment would. If the gauge contains less than two segments, the guard barrier will still activate, and whatever remains in the gauge will be consumed. If the gauge is empty at the time of the collision, the player will lose a life. The player will not collect any green gems when enemies are destroyed, regardless of the current gem count.

Kakusei mode

In Kakusei (Awakening) mode, the gem counter begins to drain, and all enemy bullets become purple.[1] While the gem counter is above zero, enemies and projectiles will slow down. Destroyed enemies' bullets turn into gold, and the player's gem counter is decreased by 10. Each bullet converted into gold carries a multiplier which increases until it reaches "x100". When the gem counter reaches zero, the player goes into "over-mode". In over-mode, bullets become red and begin to travel faster than their normal speed. Red bullets will not be converted to gold. Although the bullet speed changes in Kakusei mode, the rate at which they are fired remains the same. In kakusei mode, the fighter's gender is altered. Chihiro and Black retain their shot modes and cannot enter kakusei.

Guard barrier

When the guard barrier is engaged, the player fires a powerful laser, and is momentarily invincible. The guard barrier gauge is divided into 4 segments. Tapping the C button will use up an entire segment (one quarter of the gauge), but holding the C button can use up more than one segment depending on how long it is held. The C button may be released mid-segment, which may result in there being less than one segment remaining in the gauge. In this case, tapping the C button will use what is left in the gauge, but the guard barrier will last as long as an entire segment would have. The guard barrier forms a large green aura around the player, and any bullets that come into contact with this aura will disappear.

  • Ageha: Concentrated forward shots. In Kakusei mode, the fighter moves faster with reduced horizontal sway when firing shot, slower when firing the beam.
  • Tateha: Wide angle forward shots. In Kakusei mode, the fighter moves faster when firing shots, slower when firing the beam.
  • Chihiro: Arrange mode fighter, PlayStation 2 only. It is basically Irori Mimasaka from ESP Ra.De.
  • Black: Arrange mode fighter, PlayStation 2 only. It is basically JB-5th from ESP Ra.De.
Miscellaneous commands

Holding A and B buttons for over 0.5 seconds when pressing START reverses the full-auto button setting. Holding C and D buttons for over 0.5 seconds when pressing START swaps the functions of C and D buttons. Both commands affect Players 1 and 2, and only affect the current game credit. If both players try to use a command, both commands are accepted.


Espgaluda was produced by Kenichi Takano and directed by Tsuneki Ikeda, co-founders of Cave whose previous works include the DonPachi series.[2][3][4][5] Ikeda also served as co-programmer alongside Takashi Ichimura.[2][6] Akira Wakabayashi, Hideki Nomura, Hiroyuki Tanaka and Kengo Arai also acted as co-designers.[2][7][8][9] Artist Tsukasa Kado was responsible for both world building and character designs.[2] The soundtrack was composed by "SOU1" under supervision of Toshiaki Tomizawa, another co-founder of Cave.[3][4][10][11] The team recounted its creation process and history through various publications.[12][13]


Espgaluda was first released in arcades by AMI in November 2003.[14] On March 15, 2004, a soundtrack album containing music from the game was published in Japan by Cave.[11][15] On June 17 of the same year, a conversion for the PlayStation 2 was developed and published by Arika in Japan.[16] The PlayStation 2 version included different modes such as arcade, simulation, arrange, and a walkthrough DVD video featuring high-level replays.[1][17][18][19] In arcade mode, players can configure screen orientation and other settings. Simulation mode simulates an arcade mode stage where players can practice of sections under pre-defined conditions.[17][19] Arrange mode is a PlayStation 2-exclusive feature and introduces more aggressive enemy patterns, new playable characters, an arranged soundtrack, among other additions and gameplay changes.[1][17][19]

In 2005, Espgaluda was split into two separate parts and distributed by Cave through the Gaesen Yokocho service for EZweb, i-mode and Yahoo Mobile phones.[1][20] Both parts were later merged into a single release titled Espgaluda DX, featuring enhanced graphics and a special mode.[1][21]


Espgaluda garnered positive reception from critics who reviewed it as an import title,[23] with the PlayStation 2 conversion being regarded by outlets like Kotaku Australia and TheGamer as one of the best shoot 'em ups on the console.[24][25] According to Famitsu, the PlayStation 2 version sold over 10,125 copies in its first week on the market and approximately 17,755 copies were sold during its lifetime in Japan.[26]

Famitsu's four reviewers gave the PlayStation 2 conversion a positive outlook.[22] Game Watch's Toyotomi Kazutaka praised the extra additions of the PlayStation 2 port such as arrange mode, as well as its "Kakusei" and guard barrier mechanics.[19] Edge commended the PlayStation 2 release for its accessibility, "Kakusei" and guard barrier mechanics, scoring system and extra modes but criticized the loss of visual fidelity due to screen resolution differences.[17] Consoles +'s Kael also gave positive remarks to the PlayStation 2 version for its gameplay and music but criticized the short length.[18] Hardcore Gaming 101's Craig Gabrielson noted its scoring system and accessibility in a positive light but criticized the visual variety in terms of stages and soundtrack.[1]


  1. ^ Japanese: エスプガルーダ, Hepburn: Esupugarūda


  1. ^ a b c d e f Gabrielson, Craig (March 14, 2014). "Espgaluda". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on 2021-04-04. Retrieved 2021-04-18.
  2. ^ a b c d Cave (2003). Espgaluda (PolyGame Master). AMI. Level/area: Staff.
  3. ^ a b "CAVE 15th Anniversary ~Shoot'em All!!~". Monthly Arcadia (in Japanese). No. 118. Enterbrain. March 2010. pp. 46–55. (Translation by Shmuplations. Archived 2019-09-14 at the Wayback Machine).
  4. ^ a b "Dossier Shoot 'em up". IG Magazine (in French). No. 8. Ankama Presse. May–June 2010. (Translation by Archived 2019-02-13 at the Wayback Machine).
  5. ^ 池田 恒基. ケイブシューティング史 こんにちは17年 ありがとう16年 (in Japanese). Cave. 24 August 2010. pp. 199–202. (Translation by Shmuplations. Archived 2020-10-28 at the Wayback Machine).
  6. ^ 市村 崇志. ケイブシューティング史 こんにちは17年 ありがとう16年 (in Japanese). Cave. 24 August 2010. pp. 180–182. (Translation by Shmuplations. Archived 2020-01-02 at the Wayback Machine).
  7. ^ 田中 周幸. ケイブシューティング史 こんにちは17年 ありがとう16年 (in Japanese). Cave. 24 August 2010. pp. 183–186. (Translation by Shmuplations. Archived 2020-05-10 at the Wayback Machine).
  8. ^ 野村秀樹. ケイブシューティング史 こんにちは17年 ありがとう16年 (in Japanese). Cave. 24 August 2010. pp. 191–194. (Translation by Shmuplations. Archived 2020-11-05 at the Wayback Machine).
  9. ^ 若林 明. ケイブシューティング史 こんにちは17年 ありがとう16年 (in Japanese). Cave. 24 August 2010. pp. 195–198. (Translation by Shmuplations. Archived 2020-05-10 at the Wayback Machine).
  10. ^ "エログラサンとか言うな - SOU1インタビュー". The Interviews (in Japanese). paperboy&co. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-01-21. (Translation by Shmuplations. Archived 2020-12-19 at the Wayback Machine.)
  11. ^ a b Fuentes, Edgar S. (June 10, 2020). "Vandal Game Music: CAVE. Un rítmico despliegue balístico — Repasamos la amplia carrera musical de una las compañías más importantes en shooters de nave". Vandal (in Spanish). El Español. Archived from the original on 2020-06-15. Retrieved 2021-04-18.
  12. ^ ボーナス!ケイブ事実! - 怒首領蜂. ケイブシューティング史 こんにちは17年 ありがとう16年 (in Japanese). Cave. 24 August 2010. pp. 203–224. (Translation by Shmuplations. Archived 2019-12-30 at the Wayback Machine).
  13. ^ "Espgaluda – Developer Interviews". Shmuplations. August 20, 2015. Archived from the original on 2020-12-19. Retrieved 2021-04-18.
  14. ^ Akagi, Masumi (13 October 2006). AMI; ケイブ Cave. アーケードTVゲームリスト 国内•海外編 (1971-2005) [Arcade TV Game List Domestic • Overseas Edition (1971-2005)] (in Japanese) (1st ed.). Amusement News Agency. pp. 17, 26. ISBN 978-4990251215.
  15. ^ Greening, Chris (August 1, 2012). "ESPGaluda Original Soundtrack". Video Game Music Online. Archived from the original on 2020-08-09. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
  16. ^ "エスプガルーダ (PS2)". PlayStation Official Site Software Catalog (in Japanese). Sony Interactive Entertainment. 2021. Archived from the original on 2021-04-28. Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  17. ^ a b c d e "Testscreen - Espgaluda (PS2)". Edge. No. 139. Future plc. August 2004. p. 104.
  18. ^ a b c Kael (August–September 2004). "Test (Import): Espgaluda - Vole, Petit Papillon... (PS2)". Consoles + [fr] (in French). No. 151. M.E.R.7 [fr]. p. 100.
  19. ^ a b c d Kazutaka, Toyotomi (June 30, 2004). "★PS2ゲームレビュー★: 弾幕シューティングの登竜門 -「エスプガルーダ」". GAME Watch (in Japanese). Impress Corporation. Archived from the original on 2017-08-08. Retrieved 2021-04-18.
  20. ^ "iモードシューティング「エスプガルーダ 前編」". ITmedia Mobile (in Japanese). ITmedia [ja]. February 25, 2005. Archived from the original on 2020-08-05. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
  21. ^ Tsuda, Keimu (May 18, 2005). "ケイブ、256KB Vアプリ対応シューティング「エスプガルーダDX」". K-Tai Watch (in Japanese). Impress Corporation. Archived from the original on 2021-04-29. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
  22. ^ a b "NEW GAMES CROSS REVIEW: エスプガルーダ". Famitsu (in Japanese). No. 810. Enterbrain. June 11, 2004.
  23. ^ a b "Espgaluda (PS2)". Game Fan [fr] (in French). No. 2. Japan Culture Press. July–August 2004.
  24. ^ Vas, Gergo (April 18, 2013). "The Coolest Japanese Video Games With Over-The-Top Action". Kotaku Australia. G/O Media. Archived from the original on 2021-01-25. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
  25. ^ Cheeseman, Ian (July 25, 2020). "10 Of The Best Shoot Em' Ups For The Playstation 2 - There were a lot of great shoot em' ups present on the Playstation 2 over the years. Here's a look at 10 of the all-time best". TheGamer. Archived from the original on 2021-04-28. Retrieved 2021-04-29.
  26. ^ "Game Search". Game Data Library. Archived from the original on 2019-04-24. Retrieved 2021-04-29.

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