CAVE Strategy Sessions: Mushihimesama Part I – The Basics


Welcome to the first article in our CAVE Strategy Sessions series! This series will feature strategy articles on our CAVE games, written by the people who know scoring tricks the best: The fans who score those obscene scores on the leaderboards!

Our first run of articles will be focused on Mushihimesama and has been written by Per “pestro87” Strand & Luke “Aquas” Schirmer! Through 5 articles, they will walk you through how to change your score from acceptable to fantastic. So let’s get started with our first article: The Base Mechanics.

Basic mechanics



Unlike many other CAVE shooters there is only one character/ship that can be selected in Mushihimesama, Reco. However, there are three different shot types that you can choose from. Your shot type can also be changed in-game by picking up the Shot item while it is displaying a different shot type.


A – laser

Shoots a laser and slows you down. Holding down A will display a hitbox on Reco which can be helpful while navigating dense bullet patterns. Your options will also be retracted while you hold down A. The laser does not start immediately. It starts after you have held down the button for a short amount of time.

B – bomb

Drops a bomb while depleting one unit from your bomb stock. The bomb stock is denoted in the bottom section of the HUD. The bomb will clear all bullets from the screen and you will be invincible while the bomb is active.

C – full auto

Fires a wider and weaker shot but doesn’t slow you down. Useful on weaker enemies (aka. popcorn enemies) and whenever you need to do dodge bullets quickly. Holding down C is essentially the same as rapidly tapping A since it’s an auto version of the first part of the A attack before the laser comes out.

D – switches shot type (exclusive to Arrange Mode)

QUICK TIP: Holding down A and C (or tapping A while holding down C) will do more damage at close range than just holding down either A or C.


You may notice as you grab the Option powerup that an additional beetle will fly alongside you and fire whenever you fire. These beetles are referred to as your options. Your options can either be set to Trace or Formation which dictates the behaviour of the options. Trace makes the options tail behind you, shadowing your movements. Formation aligns the options on a perpendicular line.

TRIVIA: the term “options” comes from Gradius


As you destroy enemies they release yellow gems. When you destroy certain larger enemies all of the bullets on the screen will cancel into gems. Enemies will also leave gems on the ground. In 1.5 the gems on the ground will move towards you if you hold down A (laser).



  • Black box – Overall counter
  • Blue box – Shot counter
  • Red box – Laser counters

Overall Counter

On the upper left section of the screen, you’ll notice a counter that goes up as you destroy enemies. This counter can be referred to as the overall counter. This counter acts as a score multiplier. The overall counter will start to decrease if you don’t shoot enemies for a certain amount of time and as such it is important that you strategically time your attacks so that there aren’t long gaps in between the waves of enemies.

Enemy-specific Counters

On the larger enemies, you will see another counter appear on top of them. This counter dictates how fast the overall counter increases. The superplay DVD Mushihimesama: The Secret Lover refers to this counter as the “shot counter”. This counter can be accompanied by a series of smaller counters above it. The smaller counters are referred to as “laser counters” on the DVD. The shot counter will flash red when the counter resets, at that time the overall counter will be set to the laser counter values plus the shot counter value.

The laser counters will be white at first and eventually turn to red as you damage the enemy. High-level scoring tricks involve bumping up the laser counters to a really high value by precision tapping of the A button which, if timed correctly, optimizes the intervals of the shot counter resets. By not maintaining a constant shot the counter will drop in value a bit but a perfectly timed shot after that will then bump it up by a significant amount. This will make the counter increase faster than if you just held down A or C.

Once the enemy is close to being destroyed, the laser counters will turn red. At this point, you want to cash in on the values by rapidly tapping C. Doing this will rapidly trigger the counter resets which means that the laser counter will turn red more often which will then add massive amounts to your overall counter.

Mastering the enemy specific counters is an integral part of high-level scoring in 1.0 Maniac and 1.5 Maniac. In the options menu, you will find a section for controls where you can tweak the auto-fire settings. This can be very helpful since the timings for the resets are strict.

The ideal auto-fire settings for 1.5 Maniac are A (from 2/12 to 2/13) and C (from 1/4 to 1/5) where the optimal values vary between the stages. On 1.0 Maniac you want to have slightly faster auto-fire rates.

This may all sound very complicated but, in reality, you just need to hold down A (with ideal auto-fire) until the laser counter turns red and then hold down C (with ideal auto-fire). However, optimizing the shot counter increments after the resets and prolonging the period of the red laser counters by controlling the damage that you do to the enemies opens up immense depth.


There are two score based extends. Once you reach the score threshold for each extend, you will receive a 1up.

Shot types


  • W Red – Wide shot – Slow movement speed
  • M Green – Normal shot – Medium movement speed
  • S Blue – Focused shot – Fast movement speed


Red is the ideal shot type if you are aiming for a high score in 1.0 or 1.5 but it’s more difficult from a survival perspective due to the slow movement speed. The wider shot also results in longer boss battles. For newcomers and people who are mainly interested in a 1CC (clearing the game without using continues) the Green or Blue shot is recommended for 1.0 or 1.5. In Arrange Mode, it is recommended to use the Blue shot on the bosses and on Stage 1 and 2 and the Green shot on Stages 3, 4 and 5 if you are aiming for a high score due to how the counter works on Arrange Mode. Red shot can also be useful in Stage 3 to keep the counter from dropping.


There are four types of items in the game:



Gives you a 1up. The item is located on Stage 3 right before the boss. You can make the item appear by destroying all parts on both arms of the insect before destroying the body. If you manage to do that and destroy the main body without using a bomb then the 1up will appear.



Adds an extra bomb to your bomb stock. Appears right before the boss on each stage except for on Stage 3 where it appears a bit before the boss.



Powers up your shot and can also be used to switch shot type. By default, this item will be the same shot type that you selected when you started your run but there is a visual timer on the item. As this timer reaches zero, the item will switch to the next shot type. As it reaches the last shot type, it will circle back to the original type. You will switch to the shot type that the item displays when you pick it up.



Adds another beetle to your options and can also be used to change your option formation. The maximum amount of beetles varies between the modes, you can hold up to 4 beetles in 1.0 and 1.5 and 6 beetles in Arrange. As the timer reaches zero on the item it will toggle between Formation and Trace.

Hopefully, this article has given you a good grasp of the basics of the way the game plays. Next time, we’ll look at some of the details of the specific modes you can choose to play!

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • PAN September 14, 2016, 2:21 pm

    Super nice to have these for learning the game!

  • Kyper September 14, 2016, 8:44 pm

    Yikes, the counter scoring mechanic sounds like a rhythm game =/

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