Cave are back with another bullet hell shooter you don’t want to miss…
Cave don’t pull any punches with their shooters, as Espgaluda 2 showed us earlier this year, and Dodonpachi Resurrection is no different. It’s a pure balls-to-the-wall assault on your senses, and it doesn’t let up from beginning to end… as short as that may be.
Once again it’s not exactly clear what’s going on as far as the story goes, but all you need to know is that there are a tonne of enemies that need mowing down, and you’ve got the tools for the job. Resurrection is presented with the same layout as Espgaluda, with the game area surrounded by arcade cabinet-style artwork and the game controls overlaid to the left or right (depending on you preference). Controlling your ship is touch and slide based, much like many shooters out there, with your ship sitting above where your finger connects with the screen, giving you a necessary clear view of on-coming bullet hell.
Like Espgaluda the game once more comes in two flavours; an arcade mode and an iPhone mode. Both are essentially the same game (same levels, enemies etc), but with a few differences. The music is one of these, featuring the original musical score in arcade mode, but a brand new, and quite awesome, new musical score in the iPhone mode. The other is how your ships weapons work.
Resurrection features auto fire by default. You can turn it off, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless your have a death wish. Instead, the skill lies in not only your bullet dodging skills, but which weapon to use at which time. Depending on which of the three ships you choose, your primary weapon differs. From the button layout you can select Laser fire, this switches your guns to shoot out a large beam of laser fire. Not only is this a powerful weapon, but it’s essential in deflecting large laser beams from enemies… without it they’ll cut straight through you. So it’s up to you to spot these enemies and switch the front laser as soon as possible. There is also a Hyper mode, this come into fruition when the onscreen hyper bar is full, by either killing enemies or narrowingly missing bullets. Once full, you will be notified by a female voice shouting ‘Are you ready?’, and at this point you can hit the Hyper button. This works in both iPhone mode and Arcade mode, and shoots out super powered weapons fire which clears all enemy bullets on contact. However, in iPhone mode you can execute an even more powerful Hyper Pulse, by spinning your craft with your finger. As you do this the wasp icon at the bottom of the screen changes colour, and the longer your spin the more powerful the pulse becomes. Letting go of the screen will unleash the pulse and do mega damage to your enemies, which is particularly useful against bosses.
Under its pure arcade stylings there is some surprising depth to Resurrection in both an intricate scoring and power up system. At the top of the screen is a power bar call SM. How you fly and dodge bullets will affect your score. Around your ship is a red force field, and as bullets pass through this the M side of the power bar increases and your score multiplier will grow. To get maximum points for each kill you must then grow your S part of the bar. You can do this by killing enemies in rapid succession and/or avoiding bullets close-by (much like near misses in GTA). You’ll see your ship twitch as you just miss a bullet, so you’ll know if you are doing it properly.
Of course dodging bullets isn’t easy in a Cave game. This genre of shooter is dubbed ‘bullet hell’ for a reason. There is seldom a moment where the game arena isn’t strewn with enemy fire. Be it tiny ships shooting blue or red bullets, or huge gunships raining all manner of laser, missiles and bullets on you, the game requires a steady hand and eyes like a hawk if you are going to successfully stay alive. I’m constantly amazed at how the iPhone displays all the elements on screen at once. Sure, it’s all 2D, but there is no slowdown at all, even during the the epic boss battles. There are all manner of ships, beautifully illustrated in detail, particularly the intricate bosses, comprising of large pieces which break apart and reassemble as large mecha-girls (as only a e game can). The backgrounds, if you can see past all the bullets look great too… it’s a feast for the eyes.
Musically, it’s no let down either. It’s not going to be to everyones taste, and I certainly wouldn’t listen to it on a leisurely drive in the country. But the techno beats and synths fit perfectly with the hectic on-screen visuals. I’ve already mentioned the dual soundtracks, and it’s certainly worth playing through the arcade mode, or the iPhone version, again (which unlocks the original soundtrack after completion).
Unfortunately there is a downside to all this awesome shooter action, and that’s it is all over way too quickly. You can blast through the game in both modes in the normal difficulty in around 30 minutes. The game features an unlimited continue system, and despite the fact that you will die, once you lose all your lives you can simply hit continue and carry on from where you left off. I understand that the game’s heritage is of arcade origin, and that it’s designed to suck up your dollars or pounds, but I’d like to see, in the iPhone mode at least, an option to turn off the continues. Or if you die, to respawn you a little further back.
Despite the short playtime, the game is huge fun, and you’ll happily replay the game again and again, as well as attempting to up your score. There’s also the arcade mode, with its added three choices of challenge. These change the gameplay slightly by increasing your power in one area, but decreasing it in other, for example removing the bomb ability.
Overall, Cave have done it again and delivered an over-the-top shooter experience. Its high price and short play-time may put some of you off, but any serious shooter fans out there will be doing themselves a disservice by passing on this. It’s a blast… quite literally!