Cave is a game company that is pretty much the gods of Bullet Hell shooters. They've put out quite a few scrolling shooters over the years and not a whole lot of them have come to the US. You can get a few of their Japanese which are region free and play them on a US Xbox 360 but the games are still expensive so that's not always a solution for everyone. I'm a fan of the scolling shooter and I've only played a couple of Caves shooters and not really for any length of time but they're fun and can be really hard. I was extremely happy to see that they decided to release a game in the US but then was shocked to read it was coming to the iphone of all things. I wasn't sure if a bullet hell game would work on the iphone.
Espgaluda 2 is a basic vertical scrolling shooter. You're character is at the bottom of the screen and flys up. You shoot at the incoming enemies as you dodge intricate bullet patterns eventually getting to a boss and finishing the stage. You have two different "shots" to use as you play. One is just the standard bullet shots you see in many of these games and the other is a rapier shot which looks like a beam of light similar to the straight laser in the Raiden games with some projectiles flying around it. You collect power ups to get more power out of these and are free to switch between them at will. You can enter an "Awakening" state in which the character's shots change and the bullets around you slow down. Once the awakening counter goes down you keep the new attacks but the bullets turn red and go much faster. You have a choice of playing as three characters all with a different attack power. Ageha is the most powerful and has a straight forward attack. Tateha has a spread shot which in awakening mode turns into a homing spread shot. Asagi is the last character and has a straight shot and a set of options that fly behind and fire or in awakening go right up to the enemy you're targeting and shoot them point blank. The iphone version has an iphone mode. When you're in awakening you can touch the screen to get rid of bullets and gain points. It's fun but I prefer the arcade mode. It also has achievements via open feint.
When it comes to controlling this game on the iphone it is perfect. Using my finger to slide my character across the screen to is just amazing. It adds a precision you can't get with the joystick because it doesn't have the limit on the speed the character goes. It moves as fast as you can move your finger. So while this is a great way to move I think it makes the game easier because you have this ability that isn't in the arcade or 360 versions. Shooting is done automatically as it is in most iphone shooters, you can turn on manual shooting but I never tried it. All your other functions such as shield and changing shots are all on the side of screen and easy to reach. Even moving in crazy ways I've never hit the buttons and done something I didn't want to do.
The game runs well on the hardware. It only supports the newer ipod touches, ipad and iphone 3gs which I can imagine is for the amount of stuff that goes on while playing. Bullets are everywhere and on hard it they can fill the entire screen with just a pixel or two safe zone. On my 3GS it drains my battery extremely fast so I tend not to play when I'm out because my phone could go dead from playing. My phone also gets warm as I play which it does not do with other games but I'm guessing it's due to the processor having to work so hard on this one.
I'm not a big iphone gamer, I've played a few just to try and I grab any free ones I can. Besides this one Space Invaders Infinity Gene have really grabbed my attention. If you're a fan of scrolling shooters then you need to check this game out. Cave has said this is a test and if it does well they plan on bringing more of their games out in the US. Deathsmiles just came out and I've heard they have another arcade game they're bringing to the iphone. Espgaluda 2 in my opinion is the best game on the various idevices and anyone who's a gamer and can play it should.
UPDATE - Something I completely forgot about is whenever you get a phone call while playing the game does not remember where you were and you are forced to start over. I had this happen when I was close to beating the last boss on hard a couple of times. Well today they released an update and I believe this is no longer an issue.
Easily a 10 out of 10