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Shikigami no Shiro III (式神の城 III, Shikigami no Shiro episode-3 in Japan) is the fourth installment in the Shikigami no Shiro series and the third to be a vertically scrolling shooter. Shikigami no Shiro III first debuted Japanese arcades on February of 2006, followed by ports for Windows PC in September of 2006 and console ports for the Xbox 360 and Wii a year later. Shikigami no Shiro III is also the first in the series to receive an major American release; the game was published as Castle of Shikigami III in North America by Aksys Games exclusively for the Wii on May 13, 2008. Shikigami no Shiro III was published in Europe by PQube and released on October 1, 2008.
The official Japanese website features online leaderboards for the arcade and Windows PC versions of Shikigami no Shiro III.
The game plays much like its predecessors. As before, there are five levels each in two parts, with a boss at the end of each part. Before major bosses and between levels there are cutscenes with dialogue featuring the character(s) in play. The dialogue is unique for each different pair of characters selected, resulting in, according to the publisher, 55 different scenarios. Each character has a primary standard attack, which is generally forward-shooting bullets. This is activated by tapping the fire button or by pressing an auto-fire button on home consoles. The secondary attack is known as a Shikigami Attack, activated by holding the fire button, or pressing a dedicated button on consoles. This attack is often more powerful, but slows or stops the character completely. Each character's shikigami is unique and also comes in two variants that are chosen at the start of the game. Finally, characters have a limited supply of bombs, their effects also unique to each character. Coins are released by enemies destroyed using normal or shikigami attacks, but not by bomb attacks. Coins are now collected automatically, regardless of whether the primary or shikigami attack was used. When an enemy is destroyed using the players shikigami attack, the coin bonus increases by 10 points for every coin collected (up to 10000 points). The Tension Bonus System returns, whereby the player's weapons are strengthened and the score is multiplied by up to 8 when the player grazes enemy bullets. Also, the player can expend a bomb to allow for an automatic TBS for a short period of time. When Tension Bonus reaches x8, player's normal shots are fired at increased rate and inflict stronger damage. At the end of the stage, coin bonus collected when defeating an enemy with maximum Tension Bonus is added to player's score. Hi-Tension Max is introduced in this game, which causes the multiplier to stay at 8x, and causes enemies to drop 1.5 times the amount of coins when destroyed. High Tension Max is activated by using one of the player's bombs.
The third game in the series features the most characters of the entire series, but drops out Kim Dae-jeong and Niigi Gorgeous Blue, who both were featured and playable in the predecessor. Sayo Yuuki is also taken out of the playable roster, and now replaces Kohtaro's decased shikigami, Sazae. The returning characters include:
The newcomers include: