Progear is a 2001 horizontally scrolling bullet hell arcade video game developed by CAVE and published by Capcom for the CP System II board. Set in the fictional kingdom of Parts, players assume the role of children controlling a plane equipped with the titular propelling engine to overthrow the Metoruin sages and their new world order. It was the sixth shoot ’em up game from CAVE, their first horizontally oriented shooter, and their eighth video game overall.
Initially envisioned as a vertical-scrolling shooter and intended to be their last game, Progear was created by CAVE as a collaboration with Capcom and served as their first horizontal-scrolling shooter title, with bullet dodging and enemy destruction being the main focus while adapting the company’s shoot ’em up gameplay style in a horizontal format but faced a problematic development cycle before its launch to the market. Though first released in arcades, the game was later ported to mobile phone platforms, each one featuring various changes compared to the original version and has since been re-released as part of the Capcom Home Arcade plug and play game system. The game was later included in the 2021 compilation Capcom Arcade Stadium.
Progear proved to be popular in arcades among Japanese players and garnered positive reception from critics since its inclusion on the Capcom Home Arcade system, with praise given to the anime-style steampunk visuals, gameplay and accessibility, though the music was criticized. It was CAVE’s only horizontal-scrolling shooter until Deathsmiles in 2007.
Progear is a steampunk-themed horizontally scrolling bullet hell game where players assume the role of children controlling a plane equipped with the titular propelling engine through five stages in order to overthrow the Metoruin sages and their new world order. At the start, players are given the option to choose between two pilots (planes) and three co-pilots (gunners), each with their own advantages and weaknesses which determines the effectiveness of their respective modes, in addition to changing character’s costume and formation of gunners by performing specific button commands at the selection screen.
As with previous shoot ’em up titles from CAVE, players can alternate between two shot modes: “Pilot” mode fires a strong primary attack as the co-pilot shoots unguided projectiles, while “Gunner” mode fires a weaker primary attack and slows the plane’s movement, but allows the co-pilot to lock on to enemies with increased firepower. Players are also equipped with a number of bombs capable of inflicting damage against enemies depending on the number of jewels collected, which increases its attack output. Through the stages, players can pick up items along the way by destroying enemy carriers such as “P” icons to increase the plane’s attack power, “B” icons to increase the number of bomb stocks, a “MAX” icon that increases the plane’s firepower to maximum level after losing a life and 1UPs. By collecting another bomb stock with three bombs in reserve, several gameplay events occur.
A notable gameplay aspect is the scoring system based on jewels; When an enemy is destroyed, nearby bullets are converted into rings or jewels depending on the player’s current weapon mode when destruction occurs. In “Pilot” mode, only bullets nearby an enemy unit are converted into rings, while enemy bullets close to those of another enemy are converted into jewels in “Gunner” mode. When changing between shot modes, players can grab rings and jewels automatically. By having a high ring rank, players obtain jewels of high value and vice versa. The ring rank is lowered by losing a life or using a bomb. At the end of each stage, players are evaluated based on how active their gunner was and the player’s overall performance.
The plot summary of Progear is explained through supplementary materials.Sometime in the past, people of the kingdom of Parts found a way to become immortal but only with elderly nobles. Among these elders who obtained immortality were Ballossum Pench, Gabriel Hammer, Jimchuck Spanner, Olsorro Slasher and Leonard Drill. They later became known as the Motoruin sages, eventually attempting to take over the Parts kingdom and began a new world order, collapsing the government and destroying villages of the country in the process. As their plans unfold, five children decided to battle the Motoruin using another new invention: the titular semi-automatic propelling engine.
- Ring Reed: 14 years old pilot of the Gambler biplane.
- Bolt Boyer: 15 years old pilot of the Militant plane.
- Chain Chairot: 14 years old gunner of Alpha and a childhood friend of Ring.
- Nail Nera Nerouz: 12 years old gunner of Beta and is a last surviving member (princess) of Parts’ royal family.
- Rivet Rivera: 17 years old gunner of Gamma and is a governess to Nail.