Shmup Review: Exceed 3rd Jade Penetrate: Black Package

The Exceed series is one of the biggest and best known series of doujin shooters. Released at C77, Black Package is the latest one from circle tennen-sozai and is a remake of the 3rd game in the series Exceed 3rd Jade Penetrate. Thanks to an English patch available on the net I was able to understand the cut scenes and get a idea of the story. I wont go into much detail, you control a young girl called Reim who is fighting in a tournament to be top dog of the land. With each stage boss been another girl taking part in the tournament. Including your more powerful older sister whom you fight on stage 5.

 You control Reim with 3 or 4 buttons, 1st is the tap hold for normal / focus fire, 2nd button for the bomb, The 3rd button fires your special weapon which is a homing shot that you can fire every time you fill a meter up by grazing bullets. The 4th fire button slows your movement down. As you can choose in the option menu weather to or not automatically slow down when you enter focus fire. Having an extra button for this gives more control over the auto slowdown. As you play through the game you can collect the occasional bomb and also D power ups that adds an option in the form of a dragon that follows your trail, just like the options in Gradius. You can have up to five of these and even if you die you’ll keep them for the rest of the game.

 There are 5 stages, each stage been quite long before you face the end of level boss. Which unlike the rest of the stage the boss fights seem to copy more from Touhou. With cut scenes before you fight and once you do fight the bosses use the spell card system. That is to continuously fire the same bullet pattern until you fully deplete the bosses life bar whereas it’ll start firing a new bullet pattern (spell card). The game also features an extra stage that you can enter if you’ve 1CCed normal or hard difficulty with the autobomb feature turned off, plus defeat the extra stage boss when you first encounter her in the middle of stage 4 and without bombing or getting hit.

 Black Package by design encourages players to stay in the top half of the screen and get as close as possible to the enemy due to the closer to the target you are the more powerful your weapon is. If you are quick enough you can destroy an enemy before it shots, but be warned as although enemies wont harm you by touching them, unlike some bullet hell shooters they will fire even if you’re next to them. Players who don’t want to point-blank and stay at the bottom of the screen, can get overwhelmed by the enemy. Luckily players can make up for the weakness of the main weapon by grazing bullets and firing the special weapon that is fuelled by the grazing action.

 The scoring mechanics compromise of three aspects. Bullet grazing, Bullet Cancelling (that is any bullets an destroyed enemy has onscreen converts into score). And the most major of the three, destroying enemy as quickly as possible. This works as a multiplier. Destroy enemy one after another fast enough and the multiplier raises, die or be too slow destroying enemy and the multiplier decreases. So for gamers want a high score, memorising the game and positioning yourself to destroy each of the enemy as soon as they appear onscreen is a must. Also highscorers had best learn to score well in the final and extra stages as its these levels that a large chunk of points are earned.

 Overall I really enjoyed playing Black Package, I found the difficulty to be slightly easy for a doujin shmup, even with the noob friendly autobomb feature turned on it's not as easy as Blue Wish Resurrection Plus or from what I hear the original Exceed 3rd, but also nowhere as difficult as Radio Zonde or Hellsinker or a Cave shmup. One of the reasons of Black Package been easy is that there is no end of stage score tally or even a tally at the end of the game. So gamers aren’t awarded for hoarding their bombs so are free to just bomb past the difficult sections instead of relying on skill. Still those playing for skill will find a more challenging game due to needing to get so close to the enemy especially if they play in hard mode as it adds suicide bullets (killed enemies shoot out bullets).

 For those of you who play for score its worth noting that ill soon be setting up a leader board over at the shmups11.org forum so please post your scores over there. Please note that the english patch for the game is made for v1003 which has some problems with the replay feature, Versions 1004 and 1005 fix this but I have no idea if the patch will work with these versions. Averall the game is well worth playing and is a very forgiving shmup 4 out of 5.


  1. clessxalghazanth22 July 2011 at 13:44

    good review , recently getting into this one

  2. Nice review, getting into the game too. Mainly for survival for starters.