Previews// Dodonpachi Resurrection: Deluxe Edition

Posted 12 Aug 2011 17:15 by
For the longest time, it was assumed that us Western folk - with our Big Macs, first-person shooters and stereotypically narrow attention spans - wouldn?t take too well to the insanely challenging and focused 2D shoot?em ups that Japanese developer Cave was famous for. But the cult success of Deathsmiles on the Xbox 360 proved otherwise.

Now, thanks to Rising Star Games, Xbox 360 gamers will get the chance to take on Dodonpachi Resurrection - an update to the 2008 Cave shooter that has already been a huge hit on Apple?s iPhone, with over 50,000 paid downloads since February. While Deathsmiles took a horizontal scrolling approach and had a kinky gothic vibe, this takes a more traditional direction.

Well, by ?traditional? I simply mean that you?re in a ship mowing down enemies in a vertically-scrolling environment. That?s pretty much where the traditional elements end, because as you?d expect Dodonpachi Resurrection is nothing but pure bullet hell at its finest. Screens become filled with enemy fire (quite literally) as you deftly navigate each level and shoot the crap out of everything that moves - including bizarre bosses in the form of transforming mecha chicks.

The first time you play, you worry about every little movement that your ship makes. Until, of course, you realise that for the most part you?re practically invincible, save for a tiny pulsing bulb in the centre of the cockpit. If you get hit there, your backup system launches a bomb to clear the screen and give you a second chance at survival. If you run out of bombs, you?re dead. It?s probably not handy to rely on bombs as a safety guard either, in case you actually want to use one of them in a pinch.

You can take control of three ships, each with its own special type and rate of fire. Other weapons at your disposal include a laser that knocks back any powerful beams fired at you from larger enemy ships, as well as a ?hyper? mode that allows you to shoot out a gigantic beam of death which can just about overcome any enemy. You?ll need to use this one often for bosses.

I only managed to play the Arcade mode of Dodonpachi Resurrection for this preview, but having enjoyed the iPhone version for a long time beforehand I was able to jump in and start cracking open enemy robots in seconds. It?s just as easy for a novice to play too - all you need to worry about is the left analogue stick, which is great for quick manoeuvres, and the fire button which you will rely on until the day you die. As you progress, minute nudges are necessary to gently avoid seas of bullets - that?s where the Xbox 360?s d-pad comes in handy.

It?s a cracking recreation of the original 2008 Dodonpachi Resurrection arcade game too - right down to the machine?s quirks such as the slowdown. Unlike the iPhone version, two players can get involved, which made for some fantastic fun in the office. Online rankings mean you will be able to upload your high scores to friends and gloat like a maniac, and just like the Xbox 360 release of Deathsmiles, there will be additional features too.

The Deluxe Edition is going to come with a remix soundtrack disc - which I hope includes the amazing iPhone mixes, because as much as I enjoyed playing the Xbox 360 version, I didn?t hear any of that audiosex - and two arrangements. Arrange A brings in gameplay elements of an earlier PS2 version, which pays tribute to prequel Dodonpachi Daioujou, giving you the ability to use hypers to slow down bullets and earn more points.

Arrange B is a unique twist on the original, and introduces AI that dynamically adjusts itself to how well you?re playing. If you?re playing badly, the amount of bullets will decrease and you?ll have an easier time getting through things. Play well, and bullets will fly all over the shop and enemies become harder to kill - but the scoring opportunities will be much greater.

Like Deathsmiles, a frustratingly difficult Mega Black Label is planned, but will be additional paid-for DLC. Not sure if that will fly too well for budget gamers looking for more bang for their buck, but for the die-hard Cave fan there?ll be little here to complain about.

Dodonpachi Resurrection remains a mental, soul-lifting space shooter and it?ll be available to Xbox 360 gamers in the UK in around October/November time.

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