Guwange (ぐわんげ) is a vertical scrolling shooter developed by Cave and published by Atlus in 1999.
The story of Guwange is set during the Muromachi period of Japan. During this time, increasing numbers of people suffer possession by shikigami. Although the shikigami grant great spiritual powers, the strain inflicted on the host causes them to die exactly one year after possession. However, a legend has sprung up regarding Guwange, the malevolent god trapped in Mt. Gokumon (i.e. Hell Gate). If one possessed by a shikigami can gather talismans of the five Chinese elements--wood, fire, earth, metal, water--from five demons serving Guwange, then infiltrate Gokumon and slay Guwange, the shikigami will be destroyed and the one possessed will not suffer a premature death.
Shishin (age 35), with shikigami Rikiou (age 500+). Attacks with kunai. Unlike most hosts of shikigami, Shishin has been able to live for more than a year after possession. This is because Rikiou has made an effort to keep Shishin alive, so long as he kills other humans for Rikiou to devour. The fact that Shishin never speaks, and always wears the mask of an oni, has led to commoners speaking of him as actually being the human-eating ogre in question. However, one day, Shishin experiences a vision of a goddess explaining to him how destroying Guwange will not only free him of Rikiou, but also restore the one he loves to him--his lost daughter Mikoto.
Kamono Gensuke (age 15), with shikigami Kirinmaru (age 300+). Gensuke is in training as a pharmacist, and the son of an onmyouji. Kirinmaru is a bloodthirsty tengu who holds a grudge against the elder Kamono. To fulfill that grudge, Kirinmaru has possessed Gensuke. In order to channel the tengu's malice away from innocents, Gensuke has become a bounty hunter, all the while looking for a way to free himself from the curse.
Hiiragi Kosame (age 17), with shikigami Yatsuhisha (age 200+). Attacks with bow and arrows. Kosame is a miko and member of a family of demon hunters. During a conflict with demons, Kosame became possessed by Yatsuhisha, a kyuube no kitsune, and has been commanded by her father to exorcise herself of him by destroying Guwange. Unusually, Yatsuhisha is perfectly willing to help Kosame in this quest. Yatsuhisha was raised by a demon with little use for malice towards humans, and has come to regard Kosame as a close friend. Even though it would mean his own death, Yatsuhisha intends to put all his effort into saving Kosame from her own death.
Each player gets a unique introduction, and ending after completing the game.
Guwange's gameplay contains elements that are unique or uncommon in the vertically-scrolling shooting game genre. The screen will often scroll horizontally or even diagonally, depending on the course the protagonist must take to reach the demon leader. Each character has a limited bomb attack in the form of an energy blast that can be sent in any direction, and will dispel any bullets it touches. Another special attack involves sending the shikigami into the midst of the enemies, with two particular advantages. First, the shikigami does not have to attack in the same direction as the player is firing, and can even get past obstacles that would otherwise thwart normal shots. If an enemy projectile touches the shikigami, it will change to a pink color and will drastically slow down. If the shot passes the shikigami, it will return to its original color and resume at full speed; however, if the bullet is caught in an explosion, it will be cancelled and turned into coins.
Score is almost entirely dependent on the continuous, uninterrupted collection of coins. The player must constantly damage or destroy enemies in order to replenish a countdown timer; when the timer (represented by a meter in the upper-left corner of the screen) depletes entirely, the player's coin count returns to zero. Guwange is unique in that the player may maintain a "chain" of coin collection throughout the entire game, instead of a more conventional stage-by-stage approach. This makes Guwange's scoring system extremely unforgiving.
Source: Wikipedia, "Guwange", available under the CC-BY-SA License.