Dodonpachi - Atlus / Cave

Dodonpachi (Arcade)

Main Review and Screenshots by Deeto
Second Player Review by Simon [Felix the Cat]

"I LOVE IT!!!"

There are shmups, and then there are 'SHMUPS!'. Yes, we all know how fantastically great Donpachi was (besides those who play FPS' all day), but somehow, Dodonpachi manages to be 110% better then it's predeccessor. Just like any Cave shooter, Dodonpachi has mega-frenetic gameplay, superb graphics, a good soundtrack (for once), and is also one of the funnest games I've ever played! Let's (excitedly) take a look.

Cave has pulled out all the stops with this one graphically. The backgrounds are exquisitely detailed, enemies have great mechanical design, and absolutely everything has gobs and gobs of animation. It's not 'living cartoon' quality or something lame like that, but instead is just right for a shmup. In all, this game is a sight for the eyes.
Graphics: 100%

Some excellent hard-rock accentuates the action, but after stage 3, the music repeats from stage 1, and doesn't fit the action as well as it does at the beginning. Also, they got rid of the gruff-voiced guy from Donpachi, who I really thought was great! I loved how he kept calling you rookie, even into the last stage, and how he had great lines that made my day like 'look at the size of that brattleship!(sic)'. Instead, you get the same robotic sounding womans voice you've heard in every space themed game since... er, I don't know, but trust me, it's very atypical.
Sound: 75%

Simply fantastic. You can choose from 3 different ships (all from Donpachi)-A very Raiden-ish ship, a helicopter, and a blue guy with a wave shot. You can power up each ships weapons to about level 3 or so, and can either rapidly tap fire for a wider shot, or hold down the button for a beam, which is better against stronger enemies and bosses. At the beginning of the game, you can also decide from Shot mode, which gives you more a wider and more powerful normal shot, but a weaker beam, and Laser mode, which gives you a shorter normal shot, and a more powerful beam.
Gameplay: 100%

During the actual game, it's pure craziness.
Enemies fire hundreds of shots at you, and bombard you almost constantly, but there are some ways in which you can take advantage of their large numbers. First, there's the combo meter from the first game. This works almost exactly like the combo meters in mostly every fighting game, whereas the more enemies you destroy in a row, the higher the points multiply. It's quite a challenge to stay alive while constantly destroying enemies, and stopping from your killfest will cause your combo to stop in it's tracks.
You've also got a bomb to destroy all the weak enemies, and turn all shots into stars for incredible amounts of points. There's also a secondary 'bomb' where you use a bomb while using your beam, for a simply HUGE (think 1/3 the screen) mega-blast, which does immense damage to all enemies, as well as taking away a ton of boss health. Part of this games strategy is learning when to use your bomb, and when to super laser blast.

Yes, Dodonpachi is one of the greatest shmups of all time, and I strongly urge you to go out and play the game (if you're in Japan), or get the rom! Beware, this game consumes your cpu like a ravenous monster, (it makes my PIII 800 look like a 486) so use Raine for faster emulation, or get a P4!


Slightly less then Great:
-Repitition of Music past stage 3.
-The game ends, eventually.

Overall: 100%

It seems that Cave have singlehandedly invented the "manic shmup" genre, with games like ESP Ra.De, Dangun Feveron, Guwange and Donpachi. Their games always seem to be the most graphically intense of the whole genre, matching even the likes of G.Darius and Batsugun in intensity. Dodonpachi is the sequel to Donpachi, and continues on the predecessor's traditions. And THEN SOME!

Dodonpachi improves on it's predecessor almost flawlessly. Graphically, Dodonpachi manages to keep the fantastic super-drtailed look of every Cave game going, and even seems to improve on it with all the special effects going around, such as warping, super-transparency, hyper-scaling, speed scrolling and many more. Everything you see goes berserk and still manages to retain clarity. Nothing ever gets crowded, and you know exactly where everything is at all times - it's that neat. The bullets are easy to see, the enemies are crisp, and your firepower never overwhelms the screen to an extent where you can't see anything. Even the explosions are pretty!

Audio-wise, all the many "BOOMs", "BANGs" and "WHOOSHES" sound amazing - almost like there's a small war in your game system. Lasers sound like lasers, tanks rumble like tanks, planes sound like planes. It's all very nice ear candy. You even get the background announcer as well, although it does sound slightly different to Donpachi, almost basic at times. But it suits the game well.

The game itself is very easy to get into. You have three ships to select (all from Donpachi) - the red ship with forward firepower, the green ship with variable firepower and the blue ship with a very wide shot. However you get a choice of which weapon area you get to power up - Shot (for more powerful shots) or Laser (for a more powerful laser, invaluable for bosses!), so it brings in a bit of strategy to the game. Should I go for easy levels, or easy bosses?

The ships handle fluidly and are always controllable. The game is totally fair when it comes to collision detection, as much like Radiant Silvergun, you can only be destroyed if a bullet completely hits you. You will find that at many a time you will just graze a bullet or thirty, and yet you stay alive. Be thankful, it's all part of the gameplay...

The enemy patterns and shot patterns are easy enough to guess, but it's the sheer volume of bullets that make this game hard. However, there is so much you can do with this game to save your ass. Bombs, when used normally, will turn every bullet into a point star, thus giving you the option of playing like Bakuretsu Muteki Bangaioh (ie. recklessly). Or you could play it like RayCrisis, and kill everything as quickly as possible (my preferred method). Or you could be a showoff, going through the game without using the bombs, lasers or main shot. The scope for altering your game style is huge.

Dodonpachi is a very beautiful game, and a huge acandidate (along with Guwange) for the anchoring of the shmups genre in 2D. Practically all of Cave's output proves the fact that "who needs 3D for a good shmup?" It's CPU and RAM intensive already! And it's so manic it's fun! Highly recommended...

Level One:
Tank filled cliffs...

Level Two:
Shooting the shit out of Mars...

Level Three:
Above the clouds...

Level Four:
The ruined city...

^^ Yep, here's the ship select screen, where you get to set all your options. Note how good this looks, even for a select screen.

Level Five:
Approach to the enemy base...

Level Six:
Inside the enemy base...

Does exactly what it says on the tin...

Thanks to Joiro Hatagaya and Albert Lee for this!

That makes both Donpachi and Dodonpachi reviewed now! Thanks for the review Deeto!

Dodonpachi is a truly manic game, and could practically define the genre singlehandedly. It never slows down at all - the action is totally constant, never stops, never lets up. Right from the start you're pressured into survival of the fittest, and you really need every ounce of concentration to stay alive. What's really clever is that it is possible to complete Donpachi and Dodonpachi in one life! Well if I can make it up to level four without dying then it can be done...

Lets hope Cave don't stop the series here, and that they continue making shmups like Guwange and ESP Ra.De instead of boring snowboarding games...


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie