At the very very least, the presentation is ridiculous, it could have a cool arrange mode, and the game itself might be okay should I ever force myself to play for score. Can't be worse than the last two Bangai-O games!
Mushihimesama Futari 1.5 is the big one. Japanese region free release, I think you can still get it for its re-release price. It's probably the best choice if you can only get one.
Outside of that, you have the North American Deathsmiles release and the rest of the region-free Cave games (Muchi Muchi Pork/Pink Sweets pack, Deathsmiles IIX via Games on Demand, Espgaluda 2 Black Label), all of which are great games.
On XBLA you have Strania, Guwange (my least favorite Cave game), Triggerheart Excelica, and KoF Sky Stage (needless hate is strong on this one). Ikaruga, too, of course.
RFA is a great bundle, but I haven't put any time into trying to single credit clear any of its games. Same goes for Raiden IV.
Hells yeah!!! By the way you guys are too dense to pick up on my hint dropping in the XBLA thread
I am trying to beat Ikaruga by Sept 14th. We'll see if I unlock unlimited continues or not (6 hours of play?)
For shmup recommendations, you HAVE TO GET STRANIA! Now!!! It is so freaking underrated. Strania also has DLC that is cheap and doubles the length of the game (but it is not for the weak, nor is the game itself). If you like moe anime characters Trouble Witches Neo has actually been pretty fun too as sort of a starter bullet hell game it might work pretty well once you figure out the stop shooting and collecting coin bit. Guwange is also pretty fun, and Death Smiles IIX is available in Games on Demand.
yep. the chaining system and the level design SUCK. as someone that hates grinding as much as you do, i'm surprised that the manner in which you level up weapons in Saturn mode isn't absolutely repellent to you.
the aesthetic, soundtrack and boss battles are really fucking awesome though.