In Japan, the spiritual home of the arcade, one company is famed for its synonymy with shoot'em ups - CAVE. This week, SPOnG will be profiling the studio of bullet hell blasters, with exclusive interviews with key developers and executives.
While there has always been a pocket of dedicated fans in the West that have adored CAVE's games for years, it is only recently that the Shinjuku-based company has made more of an international impact. That's thanks to a smartphone initiative that saw ports of titles such as the gothic Deathsmiles and the insane DoDonPachi Resurrection hit the iPhone.
The success of the mobile phone releases have allowed the studio to explore Xbox 360 and PlayStation Vita development, with Akai Katana Shin heading for those platforms early next year. It has also been able to successfully launch a mobile portal called CAVE WORLD, providing the developers with a direct connection to its fanbase.
Taking a look at the photos of CAVE's understated lobby (click the "gallery" link on the right for more pictures) you can tell that for all the new attention that it is enjoying, this is very much a studio that stays grounded and reflective of its past achievements. The fact that its offices are in the same building as the Shinjuku Water Works Bureau and Aqueduct Mapping System Co should be proof of that, really.
This week, I will be speaking to four people who are seen as key to the past, present and future of CAVE's outstanding schmup journey. Yukihiro Masaki, contents manager and leader of the studio's smartphone department, discusses the work it is doing with CAVE WORLD, the challenges in online distribution and the music of these shooters. Producer Hiroyuki Kimura and designer Hideki Nomura open up about the upcoming Akai Katana Shin, and COO Tsuneki Ikeda fondly recalls the developer's roots in Toaplan and the history since then.
For bullet hell fans the world over, this is not a week to be missed - and for those just getting to grips with CAVE's finest creations, this will be equally as fascinating. We'll have news, competitions and more coming throughout the next five days, so stay tuned!