Whilst Resurrection is essential for shmup fans, it’s also approachable by those new to the genre because, even though the DoDonPachi games are notoriously hard, there are novice modes (for normal and black label) that, until level 5 are pretty much survivable for newcomers with a little practice. Those with shmup skill and experience will 1cc the first loop of the novice modes fairly swiftly.
The first thing to choose is one of the three ships. Each ship has shot (tap) and laser (hold), with corresponding fast and slow movement respectively. Type A has all firepower concentrated forwards, so is vulnerable from the sides, but can move fast. Type B swings the shot in the direction of movement to the left or right so can be hard if lots of ships and bullets are chasing you across the screen, but is less likely to get into this situation in the first place when mastered. Type C has a wide shot spread but is slower and weaker at chaining bullets. Already you can see that just the choice of ship will make for quite different approaches.
Then you must choose a shot style. Bomb style allows manual strong bombs and will do a weak auto-bomb for you when hit. Whilst Power style has auto-bomb, it cannot use bombs manually, instead introducing a button to swap between normal mode (low firepower, fast movement) and boost mode (high firepower, slow movement). Strong style allows manual bombs as well as auto-bombs and has increased firepower overall, so is great for rookie survival (in 1.5 arrange), but not for scoring since rapid enemy destruction may cause action dips where there is nothing to shoot, and the chain is therefore lost. Rather than quickly finding one style that trumps the others, you will find that the variety on offer adds to the replay value immensely, as the challenge of relearning the levels is a massive draw and makes you wonder how they could ram so much into one package.
In Xbox 360 1.5 mode, the risk here is that if your combo gauge falls to minimum, you will lose the chain count completely if the Hyper gauge is maxed out. If the Hyper gauge is not full, then the chain count will gradually decreased until you do something about it. Balancing the ability to Hyper cancel bullets for the chain against the multiplier from not using it is a delicate dance, especially when you consider that each activation of the Hyper during a level increases a hidden rank, making it harder to cancel the bullets and risking empty combo gauge. It is easy to figure it out once you see it all in action though, so as long as you think about cause and effect while playing, you will quickly pick it all up and be gagging to play around with the endless possibilities.
1.5 and Novice modes are fantastic fun and will keep seasoned veterans and newcomers hooked for hours on end. Its traditional chaining system will soon become second nature.
The Arrange B mode is a whole world of psychedelia which warrants large sections of the manual all to itself. The whole way the levels play out can be switched between what are referred to as grids by picking up different coloured bees. The grids range from normal to totally bonkers, the latter involving bullet swarms throughout the levels. There’s even a grid that only appears when you are achieving a high score! Various perks can be chosen before starting as well as the level of choice since the play time is only one level long. Glowing numbers above each enemy type show their rank and in an almost RPG style, each individual enemy type is tracked so that if you are constantly hit by one, they will get easier on subsequent plays and harder if you pick them off regularly. It’s bewildering at first with the sheer amount being thrown around the screen, but once you settle into the rhythm, it’s a highly addictive mode that adjusts to your skill, and the light show is fantastic.
Black Label is an absolutely essential DLC purchase though, bringing whole new facets to the game and coming with its own Novice mode. Instead of using Hyper to cancel bullets for quick chain count, you must cancel the bullets by destroying the enemy that shot them, or collect a golden bee. Additionally there is a completely new “Red” gauge which is filled by holding shot and laser at the same time. Once in the Red, the game ranks up for higher scoring (and dying!) potential and Hyper increases rapidly. Turning on Hyper while in the Red unleashes a maelstrom of screen activity and is ridiculously fun due to the intensity of it all.
As a standalone budget release Dodonpachi Resurrection is one of the best shmup deals ever. Adding on the cost of the Black Label DLC brings the total package towards a full price release, but if you have any love of the shmup genre, you’d be crazy to miss this shining example. Hours and hours of quality entertainment await.
Note: There is a basic strategy guide available to download if you login here
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