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Sunday, January 9, 2011

DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu 1.5 Review (XBOX 360)

Game: DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu 1.5, 1.51 怒首領蜂 大復活
Developer: Cave
Publisher: Cave
Release Date: November 25th, 2010
Genre: Shooting
System: XBOX 360
Region Free: No
My Score: 7.5/10


The story leaves off from Dodonpachi Daioujou, which ended in peace. This time the setting is Japan in the year 2008. The Element Dolls are waging war against the Donpachi Apparently the Element Dolls from Daioujou planted a "virus" into the Donpachi HQ computer system. They are using the system to transport cargo into the past so they can wage war against humanity. They are exacting revenge for being enslaved in the previous installment. Better do it in in the past when technology wasn't as advanced, I suppose. But the Donpachi Corps aren't having it and they also go back to the year 2008 to beat the Element Daughters once and for all.

There are three ships available for the game, Type-A (Deltasword) which is the fastest of the bunch and has a forward-concentrated regular shot. Type-B (Biaxe) is a helicopter whose shots will flow with the movement of the ship. Finally, Type-C (Spearhead) which is the slowest of the group but has a wide shot pattern. After choosing a ship, you can choose among three types of ship modes. There is bomb mode in which your bomb will automatically deploy if your ship's hitbox touches enemy fire. You lose a bomb, but not a life. There is power mode where you have the ability to power-up, but you cannot use bombs. Then finally there is strong mode which is both bomb mode and power mode combined. At this point it seems that strong mode cancels out bomb mode since it covers bomb mode and more.

As you play the game, there is a chain meter that builds each time you destroy an enemy. As long as the chain meter doesn't hit bottom, there is a chain counter along side it. If you are familiar with Daioujou, then this isn't anything new. If you die or the chain meter runs out, your counter will reset. It will also reset if you trigger an auto-bomb. In hyper mode (depending on game mode), enemy bullets can be canceled out and this will count towards your chain meter.This is especially helpful in Ver 1.51, which will be explained later. Chaining and Hypers are the basis of the scoring system of this game.


There are five different versions of the game including the DLC. Arrange A, Arrange B, XBOX 360, Novice, and Ver 1.51. Cave has always included an "arcade" mode in all of their previous 360 ports, but in this game, it does not exist. It is just as well since 360 modes were much better. The 360 mode is just a copy of the arcade game with some improvements. Purists won't like the tweaks done in the 360 mode because there is much less slow-down. Novice version is just that, a game mode for novice players. Bullet patterns are less complex and don't come as often.

In Arrange A (strangely called "Ver L"), you can only play as the Type-A ship. If you have played Daioujou, then Arrange A will seem somewhat familiar. While it is not Daioujou in Daifukattsu clothing, it certainly feels that way (it even uses the ship sprite from Daioujou). Canceling bullets is more focused in this mode. Also in Arrange A, you can toggle between Normal and Boost modes. In normal mode, your shots are like a fully powered Type-A ship from Daioujou, and in boost you have a boost in power but your ship moves a lot slower. Hypers are collected, just like in Daioujou. The more Hyper icons (bees) you collect, the longer the hyper lasts and the stronger your hyper blast becomes.. This mode is certainly for the veteran players.

Now we get to Arrange B. Arrange B certainly is strange. You can choose which stage you would like to start, and you can only play that stage. The best way to describe Arrange B as easily as possible is that it is just a score attack mode. You don't have a limited stock of ships, but every time you die, 10% of your score is subtracted. The screen changes color, somewhat of a tron/matrix background fused with the stock background. The colors of these backgrounds change with difficulty. It is as if the difficulty is changing on the fly. If you're a masochist, go ahead and try to master all stages of Arrange B. I tend to call this version Arrange OMFGWTF.

Finally there is version 1.51 which is DLC that comes with the first run of the game. This mode is very lenient when it comes to chaining. It is so lenient that this version seems almost broken because the sadists at Cave wouldn't make it this way on purpose. You would think, anyway. Some of the differences between the regular game (1.5) and 1.51 is that instead of one bombing being subtracted from your stock upon triggering autobomb, 2 of your bombs will disappear. If you get too trigger-happy with the hypers (they don't last as long in this mode), the games difficulty ramps up. You will get less points for beating bosses without using hyper, and another difference is once again, the ability to build insane chain numbers. It is easy to reach chains of 3000+ hits.

With some practice, you can achieve a one-credit clear in the first loop (where available). This is good for beginners of the game to get some practice in before the real thing starts in the 2nd loop where you don't have the refuge of the auto-bomb. The ultimate goal depends on what type of gamer you are, but universally everybody should gun for the true last boss, Hibachi. Hibachi can be reached in different ways, the easiest being collecting 35 hidden bees and beating stage 5 in the 2nd loop without dying or continuing.

Outside of gameplay, there are a lot of cool features. Like in previous Cave ports, you can change the wallpaper to various designs. They added a cool feature that rotates all of the wallpapers during gameplay. This is great for people with older plasma sets who worry about burn-in. You can also customize the gameplay screen and add windows that show a zoomed-in portion of the score, player, or random corner of the game. And of course, you can adjust the game for tate and yoko.


The Verdict: 7.5/10

The scoring system for the Donpachi games are getting more complex with every new iteration of the game. For die-hard fans, this could be very welcoming, but for casual shooting fans and people new to the genre, it can be very intimidating and confusing. I still much prefer Mushihimesama Futari Black Label and Espgaluda II over Daifukkatsu. But Daifukkatsu is much better than the 360 version of Daioujou. There is no comparison. That could probably be due to the fact that 5pb had nothing to do with this release. Anyway, if you are just getting into 360 shmups, I recommend starting with easier games like Deathsmiles and Guwange.

The graphics of this game are very detailed and colorful. Not as great as Espgaluda II or Futari, but a pretty shooter to look at...that is of course if the entire background isn't covered with bullets. There are some minor graphical flubs, but nothing that takes away from gameplay. For example, stage 3 takes place high in the night sky above a big city. Yet airborne enemies are casting shadows just several feet below them. Strange. Small things like that can be found, but again, nothing to take away from the game. Also I think they were lazy on the day they designed Stage 3. The slowdown, I assume, is intentional.

Another complaint is purely a matter of preference. The bosses. I am not complaining about their bullet patterns or movements, but their shapes.The bosses in their spaceship form are great, but when they morph into shapes that are only there to please the otakus, I think it is somewhat silly. Donpachi started out as a basic above-average shooter that took itself seriously, now giant mech maids and joshi-kouseis are attacking me. I know it is part of the story, but did the Element Dolls really have to make giant mechs in the likeness of themselves? A badass space battleship is sufficient. The otaku culture has somehow crept into the Donpachi games and that is a shame. There are already games in the Cave shooter lineup where this exists, and there is no need to infuse this into every game. That is my only major complaint for this game.

A minor complaint is the music. Easily one of Cave's least interesting soundtracks. IMO, Mushihimesama Futari has the best soundtrack. The CD my version came with will probably not get much play.

With great arrange modes, great challenges, and difficulty levels for all, this is another great offering by Cave, but not its best. If you are familiar with Cave games in general, this game won't be unfamiliar to you. And if you're a die-hard fan, then you probably already own this game and can agree that Daioujou for PS2 is more challenging and maybe even a better game(?). Look out for the Black Label version of this game due out in February of 2011.

No pirates or emulated reviews, my copy:


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