Develop fast fingers
Even if you are good at dodging bullets, that skill alone will not keep you alive. The trick is to clear the screen as quickly as possible, reducing the number of agents that fire upon you. Being able to identify potential threats on the ground like cannons helps tremendously. You will most likely not have any trouble until one of two things begin to appear: large insects, or dragonflies that appear from the bottom of the screen. As a general rule, it's never a good idea to remain in contact with the bottom of the screen since you can't always predict when the dragonflies are going to arrive. As for large insects, the strategy that you employ to defeat them will depend on how many appear at one time. When only one appears, you can concentrate your attack on the single large insect, but be sure not to let it lure you to a dangerous section of the screen where you might collide with another bug or a bullet. When two appear, they usually occupy mirror image sides of the screen. Concentrate on only one, as you will rarely have time to destroy both. Steer clear of the second one's path after you defeat the first. When four appear, they usually fly through the screen in a kind of chain. They will generally not get in your way until you've damaged them to the point where they are purple, at which point they will attack and dive bomb towards you. If you have time to attack any remaining insect in the squad, do so, but again, make sure that you are not being lured into a dangerous portion of the screen while following the larger insects around.
Remember that collecting upgrades in this game is not an iterative process. That is, you do not have to be at upgrade level 2 to collect the third level upgrade, for example. You can collect it at any time. Likewise, picking up a lower upgrade than the one you most recently collected will reduce your power. However, this isn't so terrible since the primary benefit of the upgrades is a small expansion of your weapons range (and to a lesser extent, its efficiency since the beams are bigger than the particles.) In fact, collecting the woP downgrade is usually worth it just for the 10,000 points that it provides. Those point will bring you that much closer to your next Sakachi Mega-Crush resupply, which can be considerably more useful than a primary weapon upgrade.
Mid-way through several stages, you will encounter a bonus area called the Hi-Point Area. This is similar to "Challenging Stage" in Galaga or "% and Point Up" stage in 1942. The lowest level of the background turns black and the music changes. No enemies will fire at you in this area. One particular enemy will appear repeatedly, and not in a terribly aggressive fashion. As you fly through the enemies, a flashing Pow symbol will float down from the top. When you pick it up, all of the enemies on the screen at that time (including any ground objects and large insects) will turn into fruit. Air and ground objects will become one specific fruit that you can collect for a large amount of bonus points, and large insects will always transform into a giant strawberry, worth 10,000 points. Hi-Point areas in early stages may offer more than one Pow during the area. You will know that the Hi-Point area is about to end when the bottom layer begins to flash between black and the regular view. The Pow symbol will function this way no matter when you encounter it, but you can count on at least one appearing after the Hi-Point area starts.
You cannot advance to the next stage until you defeat a stage boss. Some stages require that you defeat more than one boss. Stage 4 and every stage after the seventh have two stage bosses, except for stage 16, which requires that you defeat all 9 different bosses, including the final stage boss, EXED EXES. If you completely destroy every element on a stage boss, including the radars, you are awarded a substantial bonus (as well as a congratulatory catch phrase that is unique to each boss arrangement. For example, the Hepkon always says "NICE FIGHT!!") If you destroy all of the skulls and guns, but not the radars, the boss will begin to drop below the bottom of the screen, allowing it to escape and denying you the destruction bonus, so make sure the radars are destroyed before the final gun. Since the bosses contain a large number of guns which typically fire at you at roughly the same time, it is a good idea to save your Mega-Crush bombs for the boss encounters if you can help it. If the boss armaments weren't enough to deal with, it's not unusual to have to deal with a few different types of enemies, depending on how long it takes you to defeat the boss. You may encounter either squadrons of Flies, Yashichis, Dragonflies, or Stingrays while you battle the boss. Do your best to take them out quickly so that they don't get in the way of your shots and you can destroy the boss as quickly as possible.
There is no true end to the game. After you defeat the real EXED EXES boss at the very end of Stage 16, you will get a substantial bonus, but the game will continue from Stage 17 and continue to cycle. The game does come to an end, however, as soon as one player achieves a score of 10,000,000 points. At that point, no matter where you are in the game, the game will congratulate you and announce that the game is over. If you can accomplish this amazing task, consider yourself a master of the game. You can only achieve this score on one credit since continuing resets your score to 0.
The Famicom version, while faithful to the original arcade version, was simplified in the following ways:
- The screen is obviously shorter vertically, so you have less time to prepare for oncoming enemies.
- Enemies, in general, are a little slower.
- There is only one kind of Desaru, which always forms in a cross.
- Large insects and radar do not change color as they get weaker.
- There are fewer varieties of fruit.
- There is a general lull in activity before the boss arrives.
- There are no interruptions from other enemies during the boss fight.