Doujin Classics: Sispri Gauntlet
on Apr 16 by

Doujin Classics: Sispri Gauntlet

Sispri Gauntlet is one of my favorite doujin games and with good reason. It’s a bullet hell, gauntlet style game filled with exploration, secrets, RPG elements, giant robots, branching paths and girls firing laser beams. The game is brutally hard and has no continues. Are you interested yet?

 

The goal of the game is quite simple, reach the black heart that takes you to the next level. Along the way you may find locked doors for which you have to collect the corresponding key card. Many levels have multiple exits and depending on the exit you chose you will proceed to a different level. Stopping you from reaching the exit are hundreds of enemies, each with their own attack patterns. Knowing how to approach a specific enemy type is important, because it will allow you to gain experience quicker while losing less HP.

 

Enemies spawn from destructible hearts placed through the levels. This means later rooms will usually be tightly packed by the time you get to them. Making things worse there are mech like enemies that can take a beating. They are also responsible for placing more enemy spawn points, so killing them is a top priority.

 

Sispri Gauntlet - Bullet hell

You have three basic attacks: a normal attack, alternative attack and a special screen clearing attack. The special attack doesn’t take too long to recharge but it usually has a very short range until it hits its first target. After you manage to connect with a single enemy it spreads like a zombie outbreak, easily clearing out cluttered rooms.

 

As you progress through the levels you will find out that there are hidden collectables scattered everywhere. Collecting food restores your HP and hourglasses give you time bonuses.  Secrets are well hidden, forcing you to explore every nook and cranny to find it. There are even powerups and new characters that can be found. Having more than one character is a must. You will already find another character  during the first stage. Additional characters are important because you will be able to use them if your main character has little HP remaining and swap them out once you find some HP laying around.

 

Sispri Gauntlet - Special attack

You level up once you gain enough experience. Experience can be gained by killing enemies, dodging enemy bullets or converting remaining time to experience at special places. You gain levels fairly quickly. Also add the the fact that leveling up makes you invulnerable for a second or two and you will realize that if correctly timed you can pass through a hail off bullets.

 

You are given a specific amount of time to complete each level. Once the time is up, you don’t get a game over but instead small robot enemies start constantly spawning around you until you either die or complete the level. Therefore converting time to experience should be used only if you are 100% confident you have enough HP to make it to the exit.

 

Sispri Gauntlet - Bullets everywhere

Sispri Gauntlet is absolutely brutal, if a character loses all his HP she is gone for good. Lose all your characters and its game over with no way to continue. Completed a level with barely any HP remaining? Well good luck, because you aren’t going to get any back at the beginning of the next one. You can collect HP throughout the levels but you really have to decide which one of your characters is going to pick it up, if you have any additional surviving characters that is. Leveling up increases your HP bar by one empty pixel, so you will have to replenish all the HP you receive by leveling up (they didn’t want to make the game “too easy” now did they).

 

The game features some fantastic visuals. Sprites are pretty detailed and everything is animated very nicely. The screen can get cluttered pretty quickly, but you never lose track of where you are. There are also a ton of distinct locals to visit, ranging from underground laboratories to sunny beaches. Gaining enough levels also changes your weapon design, making it feel more powerful. One issue I have with the graphics is that most of the enemies are just rehashes of the playable characters.

 

Sispri Gauntlet - Level 4 SOS

 

THE VERDICT

Sispri Gauntlet is truly an amazing doujin title. Besides great graphics, tons of playable characters  exploration and RPG elements the features an up to 4 player co-op, allowing you to enjoy the chaos with your friends.

Unfortunately the company that made this game doesn’t exist anymore. My attempts to contact them have failed, so finding this game may be difficult. But if you ever stumble across this game don’t miss out on the opportunity to try this gem out.



  • Geert_Hermans

    Thanks for the write-up about this awesome-looking game! I’ve encountered it before while browsing through doujin titles, but I think I’ll give it a shot now.

    Finding a physical copy of this game does appear to be kind of hard. Do you have any idea how the versions have evolved? There appears to be a “final” version, but I have no idea which release number it would correspond with.

    I could get hold of a 3.3 release, but I’m not certain how complete that one is.

    I’ve done some more digging around about the circle that made this, D5, and found one other game by their hand. It is called “Gal Pani X” (??????) and is a Qix clone. The only other thing I could find on the snapshots of their site was a screensaver. Gal Pani X seems to be quite old. It was made for Windows 95/98. I’ve even found what appears to be a 2002 update on 3.5″ disk.

    Trying to scrape together info about defunct doujin circles makes you realize how fragile online data can be. And this while some of these games are in fact timeless, professional achievements. Some kind of database or wiki seems in order.

    • Kitsumeda

      Sorry, I accidentally posted your reply as a new post.

  • Guest

    It’s a great game and pretty addictive too. If you find a affordable solution for purchasing this game now, could you please leave a comment and link for the other readers to see.

    New versions were released during comikets 67-70. As far as I know new characters were introduced, the character select screen was improved and a few bugs were ironed out.

    Sispri Gauntlet Final 2.12 should be the definitive version of this game. As for the LITE versions it seems that it’s an abbreviation for the word milestone, so it’s not really a downgraded version. Not having played the LITE version I cannot say much about it, so I am not sure how LITE 3.3 corresponds to the Final 2.12 version.

    Like you, I found much of my information via the snapshots using the wayback machine. Here is a section for Sispri Gauntlet where I managed to get some version info http://web.archive.org/web/20090805180609/http://d5-dot.net/sg/download.html

    I totally agree with you about making some kind of doujin game list. It’s very sad seeing how most of creativity found in some doujin titles can be lost forever. Considering how good a site like vndb.org can be for visual novel enthusiasts I think starting a similar service for doujin games would be a great idea.

    • Geert_Hermans

      Several LITE versions, amongst which 3.3, are currently available on Rakuten. The shop is Surugaya-a-too. The 3.3 version is priced around € 9 with current conversion.

      Normally I’m not quick to provide such info to others, since I love collecting and tend to snap these things up when I see them. But there’s other things higher on my priority list, so if it can find a better home (i.e. someone who actually has time to play it),here you are: http://global.rakuten.com/en/store/surugaya-a-too/item/1051055-1/

      Unfortunately finding copies of this game will have to happen by diligently scouring such sites. I doubt you’ll find a larger supply.