Sispri Gauntlet is one of my favorite doujin games and with good reason. It’s a bullet hell, gauntlet style game filled with exploration, secrets, RPG elements, giant robots, branching paths and girls firing laser beams. The game is brutally hard and has no continues. Are you interested yet?
The goal of the game is quite simple, reach the black heart that takes you to the next level. Along the way you may find locked doors for which you have to collect the corresponding key card. Many levels have multiple exits and depending on the exit you chose you will proceed to a different level. Stopping you from reaching the exit are hundreds of enemies, each with their own attack patterns. Knowing how to approach a specific enemy type is important, because it will allow you to gain experience quicker while losing less HP.
Enemies spawn from destructible hearts placed through the levels. This means later rooms will usually be tightly packed by the time you get to them. Making things worse there are mech like enemies that can take a beating. They are also responsible for placing more enemy spawn points, so killing them is a top priority.
You have three basic attacks: a normal attack, alternative attack and a special screen clearing attack. The special attack doesn’t take too long to recharge but it usually has a very short range until it hits its first target. After you manage to connect with a single enemy it spreads like a zombie outbreak, easily clearing out cluttered rooms.
As you progress through the levels you will find out that there are hidden collectables scattered everywhere. Collecting food restores your HP and hourglasses give you time bonuses. Secrets are well hidden, forcing you to explore every nook and cranny to find it. There are even powerups and new characters that can be found. Having more than one character is a must. You will already find another character during the first stage. Additional characters are important because you will be able to use them if your main character has little HP remaining and swap them out once you find some HP laying around.
You level up once you gain enough experience. Experience can be gained by killing enemies, dodging enemy bullets or converting remaining time to experience at special places. You gain levels fairly quickly. Also add the the fact that leveling up makes you invulnerable for a second or two and you will realize that if correctly timed you can pass through a hail off bullets.
You are given a specific amount of time to complete each level. Once the time is up, you don’t get a game over but instead small robot enemies start constantly spawning around you until you either die or complete the level. Therefore converting time to experience should be used only if you are 100% confident you have enough HP to make it to the exit.
Sispri Gauntlet is absolutely brutal, if a character loses all his HP she is gone for good. Lose all your characters and its game over with no way to continue. Completed a level with barely any HP remaining? Well good luck, because you aren’t going to get any back at the beginning of the next one. You can collect HP throughout the levels but you really have to decide which one of your characters is going to pick it up, if you have any additional surviving characters that is. Leveling up increases your HP bar by one empty pixel, so you will have to replenish all the HP you receive by leveling up (they didn’t want to make the game “too easy” now did they).
The game features some fantastic visuals. Sprites are pretty detailed and everything is animated very nicely. The screen can get cluttered pretty quickly, but you never lose track of where you are. There are also a ton of distinct locals to visit, ranging from underground laboratories to sunny beaches. Gaining enough levels also changes your weapon design, making it feel more powerful. One issue I have with the graphics is that most of the enemies are just rehashes of the playable characters.
Sispri Gauntlet is truly an amazing doujin title. Besides great graphics, tons of playable characters exploration and RPG elements the features an up to 4 player co-op, allowing you to enjoy the chaos with your friends.
Unfortunately the company that made this game doesn’t exist anymore. My attempts to contact them have failed, so finding this game may be difficult. But if you ever stumble across this game don’t miss out on the opportunity to try this gem out.