Reviewed by Kiken

Few things in this world get my blood pumping like a good shooter, and this, my friends, is a good shooter. Perhaps not as good as it's Saturn and arcade counterparts (well, ok, it isn't), it still holds it's head up high as one of the few examples of how to program effective 2D on the PSX, a system that we all know has a serious aversion to sprites.

Will wonders never cease?!??

As a very intense experience, Dodonpachi loves to throw a universe of shots your way, ohhh... every 2 seconds. And unlike the Takumi shooters which provide you with a way of tossing it all back, Dodonpachi just gives you a miniscule hit box (it must be the center pixel on your ship) and leaves the rest to skill.

But what good is all of this if the host hardware can't handle the strain of all this spritage occurring simultaneously?

Well, let me tell you, the PSX pulls this off with flying colours. Somehow SPS managed to get the PSX to handle everything, with only a few brief hints of slowdown throughout (in fact, they were so cocky with how well they had converted the game, that they actually included a slowdown button!). Wave after wave of feeder fish assualt you with frenzied patterns and the PSX just keeps on grinning, bosses appear and toss the Milky Way at your fighter and the PSX just sits there smiling (probably steaming too), even the between-stage loading sequences last a mere 5 or 6 seconds... and this is all in VERTICAL MODE boys and girls!

That's right, SPS get another thumbs-up for managing to get the PSX to perform in the full-screen vertical mode (Tate mode). And really, the standard letterboxed horizontal mode is too small and squished to play the game any other way.

Ahhh, but there must be something wrong... something amiss. This is the 2D ineptitude that is the PSX after all. We now come to a little something I like to call "the flaw".

All that glitters isn't gold.

Alas, SPS did what they could at a price, in Tate mode you can only choose one fighter, and one fighter only. You have to select the red ship, the green helicopter, or the blue ship in the Options menu and then enter the actual game. In 2 player mode, both players end up being the same fighter (the only difference being that you can choose the rapid fire or laser fire variations for each fighter), which takes something away from the overall experience, unless both players happen to prefer the same fighter. Obviously, this comes down to the limitations of the host's miniscule on-board memory. But if you mainly only play DDP on single player and with a single credit, this becomes a moot point.

In the end, I come away impressed with what SPS accomplished, considering the daunting task of porting Cave's super-shooter to a system that isn't 2D-friendly. Although, a bit limited, the game shines in single player as a fair facsimile of the Saturn and arcade revs.

Graphics: 75%
This game doesn't really use any 2D-tricks of any kind, heck, parralax scrolling only makes a few brief appearances, but what is here reminds me more of R-Type. Your craft and the enemies you face are brimming with detail. This even becomes more apparent when you square off against any of the games bosses, who love taking up at least half the screen. Huge, multi-jointed (can you say "16-bit mainstay" boys and girls?) affairs they be, who rain down pain and suffering in torrents designed to wash away the nuisanse that is your puny craft. There's even beauty in the bullet patterns themselves. Although, by far, the most jaw- dropping (gotta love those gaming cliches) effect is your enormous lasergasm strike. Simply hold down fire and then release a nuke to unleash an enormous rippling beam of energy that has so much force that it actually pushes your fighter backwards. And with that, we dive into...

Gameplay: 80%
Shoot, shoot, shoot... well, duh! DDP (for those who actually HAVEN'T played this game in some form or another, shame on you!) offers you 3 individual craft each sporting a shooter essential (or is it stereotype?): Red for rapid forward with a little bit of spread, Green for focussed forward firepower and options that fire in the direction you bank your fighter (read: right and left) and finally Blue for that weak, wide spread. Each fighter has two variations: rapid fire and laser fire. Rapid is what it sounds like while Laser is a concentrated beam that slows you down but has massive strength. Since your fighter can perform rapid and laser variations, you must choose which you plan on focussing on. If you choose Rapid-Style as your focus, your ship will fire more shots, but your laser beam will be slim. If you choose Laser-Style, your shots will be fewer and far between, but your laser beam will be wider than your ship. This adds a welcome wrinkle into the otherwise straight-forwardness of the game. And of course, if things get too hectic for you, you've always got a screen-clearing nuke to fall back on. But even the nukes themselves can be altered depending on which type of firepower you're using at the time. Nuking while firing rapid results in a huge bomb, while muking while firing laser results in a massive magnification to your beam. Again, a slight but effective change of pace from the norm. Aside from that you have your standard weapon power-ups, extra nukes, and the occasional 1UP to extract from the enemies. Personally, I prefer simplicity in my shooters when it comes to the weapons systems, and this game is simple yet brutally efficient.

Sound: 80%
Plenty of booming explosions over heavy 80's style guitar riffs. I highly recomend it. In fact, the soundtrack is all red-book, so you can simply pop the game into a CD player and listen. Other than that, there's really nothing in the SFX department that you haven't heard already. Are you complaining? I'm not.

Overall: 85%
This game certainly has difficulty in spades, although, an experienced pilot can pull off bullet-dodging spectacles that would put Gould Goa Bowman to shame. Hard, but totally satisfying is how I would sum up DDP. It's one of those shooters that you can play for minutes or hours. In other words folks, this one is utterly replayable!

Excellent review there Kiken! And so HUGE too :D
Alas, yes, PlayStation CAN handle good 2D games! Dodonpachi on the PSX is actually very very close to the arcade version, more so than the Saturn version. The graphics are astoundingly detailed and there's none of the "explosion pixellation" present in the Saturn version. Only problem I have with the game is the way you have to select your ship from the Options menu if you're playing in full verical mode, but thats a small price to pay for a great game overall. Now why the heck Sony veto's it's US release is beyond me... - Felix the Cat


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