Judgement Silversword and Cardinal Sins now have Online Leaderboards, as well as some amazing scoring contests for the next week! You can compete against people from around the world for the top score, and to help you along the way, we’ve prepared a guide teaching you some tips and tricks to get that score as high as possible.
Judgement Silversword and I
Hello, and welcome to my Judgement Silversword guide/manual! My name is Adam Milecki, Game Producer for Degica Games (publisher of JSS and it’s sequel ESCHATOS.) Degica Games actually brought this fantastic trio of games to the PC before I was with the company, and them doing so is actually what drew me to work for them (a great event that lead to a great decision!)
Copies of the WonderSwan cartridge of JSS can go for hundreds of US dollars on eBay, and the fact that you can get all three games in the series for ~$20 USD brings joy to my heart. Heck, those original WS carts don’t even include the JSS sequel/variant, Cardinal Sins, as it required a WonderWitch to play.
Now!… I will not claim, by any stretch, to be an expert at JSS, but it is one of my favorite shoot-’em-ups (or “shmups”) of all time, despite its initial obscurity. This guide will also serve as a manual of sorts for those of you who are new to the game or want to improve your JSS groove. I will be drawing from my own experiences and various other sources (which I will try to credit when possible!) If you spot any errors or omissions, please let me know!
Enough about me.
What is JSS? JSS is a bit like an odd and wonderful missing link between the shmups of yore (such as Galaga) and modern bullet-hell shmups. It’s a shmup that focuses on speed and efficiency of enemy destruction. You are given an agile ship with two different weapons and a shield: a simple toolset with depth and power when used effectively. Enemy patterns and attacks are challenging but fair, and there always seems to be a good counter for every situation. You will find this to be true if you stick with it.
Judgement Silversword and You
First, the controls. The default keyboard and XInput/360 controller mappings (I recommend a controller)…
…Ignore the “Super Shot” for now. That’s related to a cheat/debug feature.
Below are my advanced… and very advanced suggested controller mappings…
…setting RB as the shield makes it easier to quickly activate the shield when in a tight spot. Setting LB as the frontal shot makes it easier to perform a tricky frontal/wide hybrid shot, but this is an advanced technique. You can change these as you like. The goals of these reconfigurations are comfort and speed.
Judgement Silversword and You to the MAX
Now it’s time to discuss how the game works and how you can be better than not good!
If you’re not super familiar with shmups, you may not know this scandalous little secret about all that impressive bullet dodging you may have seen. It’s easier than it looks because of something known as a “hitbox”. Look closely at these two screenshots…
On the left, an enemy bullet is colliding with the nose of the player’s ship. On the right, an enemy bullet is colliding with the left side of the player’s ship. These are not deaths! The only way for the player’s ship to actually be destroyed is to have a projectile or enemy collide with the little cockpit in the middle of the ship. This lets you really squeeze between thick bullet patterns.
When dodging enemies and bullets in JSS, be aware of pushback. When damaging some enemies, they will be pushed back slightly. When using your shield, you can be pushed back slightly. Keep this in mind when avoiding collisions.
Weapons and Shield
Below you see the frontal shot, wide shot, and shield respectively…
…The frontal shot is best for keeping a distance from danger while doing a large amount of damage to one enemy at a time. Keeping it targeted on an enemy with minimal missing increases your score multiplier.
The wide shot is best for doing a smaller amount of damage to multiple enemies at a time. It can also increase your multiplier more quickly than the frontal shot when damaging multiple enemies (or missiles) at once with minimal missing. Using the wide shot while very close to an enemy is a great way to quickly increase your multiplier, as well, but it’s dangerous.
Advanced Technique: In the controls section, I mentioned a hybrid shot technique. I learned it from this video. It’s tiring to perform after a while, but this can be done by holding the frontal shot button down and quickly tapping the wide shot button. This allows you to have a powerful mixture of both shots that also increases your multiplier quickly, and it seems to make the game more likely to slow down due to the immense number of projectiles on screen. I could be wrong, but even when using this technique, it seems that sometimes you may want to opt for firing just the frontal shot.
The shield can be used to slow, shrink, and eventually cancel bullets completely. It even does damage to enemies and missiles. While in use, your shield will eventually deplete (indicated by its size and the blue percentage in the bottom left of the screen), but it can be refilled over time and by firing. So why would you ever use it when you can just dodge? Not only can it get you out of a tight spot, but it increases your multiplier. Note that there are some guided enemy lasers that pierce right through your shield and must be dodged.
Advanced Technique: You can actually get a static addition to your score multiplier every few areas as long as you don’t die or use your shield. Of course, it goes away if you do either of those things and playing this way is more difficult.
Keeping a steady stream of fire on enemies, avoiding missing shots, and using the shield effectively (or not at all) are all key to a good score. It’s important to keep the score multiplier up as high as possible. Destroying enemies and missiles will give you more points the higher it is. In addition, just about every potentially destructive action you take (shooting an enemy, canceling a bullet, etc.) will give you a steady feed of a small amount of points just for doing it. In other words, even if you don’t destroy an enemy, shooting it some will still get you that feed of points as long as you’re hitting it. You can even sometimes score points by shooting an enemy that’s already been defeated but is remaining on screen.
Advanced Technique: Always be firing (or shielding). The wide shot button overrides the frontal shot button, and the shield button overrides both. This means you can have zero delay between switching from one to the other.
Know your limits. Playing aggressively can be good for scoring and keeping up that multiplier, but if you die, your multiplier drops, you lose time, and you lose a life.
Areas and Speed
JSS is broken up into “areas” that flow quickly from one to the next…
…Just as the game rewards efficiency, it also rewards speed. Eradicating all enemies and missiles in an area as quickly as possible gets you more points.
Judges are the bosses of JSS. Getting your multiplier as high as possible before defeating a judge will provide a big increase to your score, so keep your firing focused and be careful.
Judgement Silversword and SHHH!
As you score points, your option level will go up. This unlocks new options in “Set Up”, but changing some options may disable ranking (highscores) for subsequent plays. Setting your options back to the “Default Setting” will re-enable ranking.
There is a secret unlockable ship in JSS, “G-XACALIA”. (The normal ship is called “S-AIXRK”.) To obtain it you need to complete normal mode without continuing. This unlocks Special mode. Then you need to complete Special mode without continuing. This is very difficult, but can be done easily by unlocking “God Mode” at option level 33. Enabling “God Mode” will disable ranking (as mentioned above), but you can still unlock G-XACALIA.
Cardinal Sins and You to the MAX
Cardinal Sins is a breath of fresh air, and more than just more JSS. It’s a bit similar to the WarioWare series in that it has quick, bite-sized gameplay variations. There are seven main stages based on the seven deadly sins each with their own objective. You will be graded on your performance in each stage and as a whole.
I’m not going to discuss CS at length here, but for the most part, your JSS skills will serve you well here. However, there are some exceptions.
In the “Sloth” stage, you must collect as many lives as possible. The twist is that the lives can be destroyed by your shots, so you must shoot carefully! In “Greed”, you need to collect data on the various enemies by doing things like allowing the enemy to finish various attacks, so destroying the enemy as quickly as possible is a bad idea there. Those are just a couple examples of how you must change up your strategy.
The ability to get a static addition to your score multiplier (mentioned in the above “Advanced Technique”) still exists in CS, but the huge multiplier boost you can get from using your shield likely outweighs the usefulness of the static addition, as CS is a bit on the short side.
Finally, be aware that unless you complete all seven stages without losing all of your lives, you will not be able to play the additional sequence.
You to the MAX, Thanks to…
- Written by Adam “TideGear” Milecki, Game Producer for Degica Games with thanks to:
- M-KAI and Qute for this fantastic game
- Degica Games for bringing JSS (and ESCHATOS) to everyone
- iatneH and the shmups.system11.org forum for this super helpful guide/info
- Sapzdude on YouTube for their video of the hybrid shot technique
- VioletHatPurple on YouTube for info on how to unlock the secret ship
- The 1CC Log for Shmup’s articles on JSS and CS