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The story of Guwange is set during the Muromachi period of Japan. During this time, increasing numbers of people suffer possession by shikigami. Although the shikigami grant great spiritual powers, the strain inflicted on the host causes them to die exactly one year after possession. However, a legend has sprung up regarding Guwange, the malevolent god trapped in Mt. Gokumon (i.e. Hell Gate). If one possessed by a shikigami can gather talismans of the five Chinese elements—wood, fire, earth, metal, water—from five demons serving Guwange, then infiltrate Gokumon and slay Guwange, the shikigami will be destroyed and the one possessed will not suffer a premature death.
- Shishin (age 35), with shikigami Rikiou (age 500+). Attacks with kunai. Unlike most hosts of shikigami, Shishin has been able to live for more than a year after possession. This is because Rikiou has made an effort to keep Shishin alive, so long as he kills other humans for Rikiou to devour. The fact that Shishin never speaks, and always wears the mask of an oni, has led to commoners speaking of him as actually being the human-eating ogre in question. However, one day, Shishin experiences a vision of a goddess explaining to him how destroying Guwange will not only free him of Rikiou, but also restore the one he loves to him—his lost daughter Mikoto.
- Kamono Gensuke (age 15), with shikigami Kirinmaru (age 300+). Gensuke is in training as a pharmacist, and the son of an onmyouji. Kirinmaru is a bloodthirsty tengu who holds a grudge against the elder Kamono. To fulfill that grudge, Kirinmaru has possessed Gensuke. In order to channel the tengu's malice away from innocents, Gensuke has become a bounty hunter, all the while looking for a way to free himself from the curse.
- Hiiragi Kosame (age 17), with shikigami Yatsuhisha (age 200+). Attacks with bow and arrows. Kosame is a miko and member of a family of demon hunters. During a conflict with demons, Kosame became possessed by Yatsuhisha, a kyuube no kitsune, and has been commanded by her father to exorcise herself of him by destroying Guwange. Unusually, Yatsuhisha is perfectly willing to help Kosame in this quest. Yatsuhisha was raised by a demon with little use for malice towards humans, and has come to regard Kosame as a close friend. Even though it would mean his own death, Yatsuhisha intends to put all his effort into saving Kosame from her own death.
Each player gets a unique introduction, and ending after completing the game.
Unlike most other shooters, the player can shoot in any of eight directions, rather than only forward. In addition, the screen will often scroll horizontally, or even diagonally, depending on the course the protagonists must take to reach the demon leader. Each character has a limited bomb attack in the form of a rapid pulse of energy spheres that, like the normal shot, can be sent in any direction, and will dispel any bullets it touches. Another special attack involves sending the shikigami into the midst of the enemies, with two particular advantages. First, the shikigami does not have to attack in the same direction as the player is firing, and can even get past obstacles that would otherwise thwart normal shots. Second, if an enemy projectile touches the shikigami, it will turn purple and be drastically slowed down until it gets past the shikigami. This is crucial for making enemy shot patterns manageable. In addition, if an enemy is slain while any of its shots are slowed, those shots will become point bonuses.
- Fujimura Shizuhiko (Stage 1 boss) (age 24). Bearer of the wood talisman. Although Fujimura appears to be an ordinary female dancer, this is not the case. "She" is actually a man named Fujihara Motohiko, who has accepted demonic power to get revenge on the clan that destroyed his family. The attendant dancers are actually demons assigned to assist Fujihara in his revenge, and to kill him if he shows signs of wanting to relinquish his power and reclaim his humanity.
- Madaramukade (Stage 2 boss). Bearer of the fire talisman.
- Nekogumo (Stage 3 boss). A horrific monster, part cat and part spider, and bearer of the earth talisman. She uses an abandoned temple for her lair, devouring any traveler hapless enough to come near.
- Kemonoyajiro (Stage 4 boss). A mysterious shrine that has been possessed by a man-eating demon, and is powered by the metal talisman.
- Ashikaga Sukouji (Stage 5 boss, phase 1). A descendant of one of the architects of the Ashikaga shougunate. However, because of his illegitimacy, his birth father condemned him as a "monkey's child", and banished him to live with a priest as an ascetic. When the priest died, he revealed the truth of Sukouji's parentage. Enraged, Sukouji assaulted his father's castle, empowered by Magira, the monkey demon whom Sukouji's father had unwittingly invited with his curse. Once Sukouji took the castle for his own, it became increasingly known for demonic associations, only intensifying when Fujihara entrusted the water talisman to Sukouji.
- Magira (Stage 5 boss, phase 2)
- Guwange-sama (Stage 6 boss, phases 1-2)
- Amagizu (age 400+) and Mikoto (age 5) (Stage 6 bosses, phase 3) Amagizu was a nun who was persecuted by the bakufu four centuries ago, and attempted to take refuge to give birth on the mountain that would be called Gokumon. As she bore her child, though, Guwange took the opportunity to possess it, transfiguring it into a demonic form and absorbing Amagizu's lower body. Since then, they have remained in this combined state, with Amagizu voicing Guwange's will to his subordinates.
Mikoto, the daughter of Shishin, showed great spiritual power from her birth. Two years ago, though, she was discovered by Amagizu, and taken prisoner by her agents. Amagizu has been using Mikoto's power to amplify her and Guwange's own power, increasing their influence over the spirit realm and an ever-greater portion of Japan. Meanwhile, rumors of Mikoto's power have spread throughout the Ashikaga shougunate, and various lords have attempted to capture her from Gokumon in order to take that power for her own. Not a single person sent to capture her has come back from Gokumon alive.
On December 30, 2007 Cave fest, Cave unveiled a special edition of the game, which included increased difficulty in later chapters.
The mobile version was split into two separate games:
- I-mode version was designed for FOMA 900 and 901 series.
- Yahoo! Mobile version was designed for SH53, V601SH series.
Guwange DX is a version for mobile platforms in which the two-part mobile game was merged into a single game, with enhanced graphics.
In July 2010 cave announced the game would be coming to the Xbox 360 via Xbox live Arcade
Cave released soundtrack for the game under the title Guwange/ESP Ra.De. original soundtrack album.
- Guwange at the official Japanese website of Cave
- Cave soundtrack page
- Cave mobile page: i-mode, EzWeb, Yahoo mobile
- Arcade-History page
- Guwange at Museum of the Game
- Guwange hardware info at MAWS
- SHMUPS!: Guwange Reviewed by Simon
fr:Guwange ja:ぐわんげ pt:Guwange