DoDonPachi (Arcade) review
"Take your average vertical shooter with its overused spaceships with their pellet-shooters. Now bring it to life. Add a giant frickin piss laser and the result is DoDonPachi (translated roughly to “The DonPachi,” or “The asskicker”), an exercise in excess that presents insane bullet-dodging challenge and the single most devastating weapon ever put at the disposal of the player. I'm not talking about some puny bullets being shot out; I'm talking about a never-ending stream of agonizing ..."
Take your average vertical shooter with its overused spaceships with their pellet-shooters. Now bring it to life. Add a giant frickin piss laser and the result is DoDonPachi (translated roughly to “The DonPachi,” or “The asskicker”), an exercise in excess that presents insane bullet-dodging challenge and the single most devastating weapon ever put at the disposal of the player. I'm not talking about some puny bullets being shot out; I'm talking about a never-ending stream of agonizing death that sets afire whatever villainous machinery it greets. Entire fleets of futuristic aircraft and packs of tanks covering the ground levels attack incessantly --- spill forth your river of death-fire and watch them erupt in a ball of blinding red and orange that settles in a foreboding mushroom of smoke and ash. You are a one-man army, but you are to be reckoned with.
It isn’t just a huge laser that separates DoDonPachi from other shooters, which after playing DDP will appear murky and lifeless in comparison. This one is several jolts above the nearest competitors in terms of intense strategic bullet-weaving and in-your-face sensory assaults. Cheesy, hard-edged rock tracks scream out as you fly through fogged skies and over canyons, vaporizing the opposing forces that have the misfortune of coming crossing your path. As you rip through attacking armadas consisting of killer machinery of various sizes, your victories are signified by the huge firestorms that ripple across the sky and leave huge holes of scorched earth once occupied by enemy tanks. The feeling that prevails is, “Man, I’m doing some serious damage here.”
Plus, the giant piss laser.
You have a choice of one of three ships, each with a specialization in a particular facet. One is faster-moving, and speed becomes extremely important when you’re attempting to juke through a veritable avalanche of oncoming bullets; another is a chopper, whose main rapid fire weapon can fire at extremely wide angles to take down opponents that aren’t taking potshots from dead ahead; the last is a slower plane, but a stronger one offensively. Each of the ships has two small satellites flying along side it. Fire the standard shot and a storm of small bullets will fly toward the enemy. Align these adjacent helpers (i.e. hold down the ‘fire’ button) and what follows is a vibrant stream of writhing doom. The rapid shot is excellent for when small choppers are bearing down and firing from multiple angles, but when the huge ships approach, focusing the laser will seem them sliced up much faster. I also highly recommend pressing the ‘bomb’ button while you’re using this laser, but first advise that you don some sunglasses for your own protection, and you’ll understand why I make this suggestion when you witness the result.
However, the player has no unfair advantage and, likewise, isn’t unfairly countered with indestructible, indefatigable killing machines --- a surprising balance is struck, especially considering the ostensible madness that ensues in the later of the seven levels. In exchange for having to traverse rivers of threatening pink bullets, the player is privileged with a ship that has a considerably small hit zone --- a bullet passing through your wing won’t down you, you’ll have to be hit square in the center to be sent to your own grave. This makes sliding through a wave of attacking shots quite feasible, but in the later levels so many enemy crafts attack at once that the screen will be filled with deadly fire, never leaving you too comfortable. The primary confrontations that take place at the conclusion of each level (with giant aircraft or roaming tanks mounted with entirely too many guns) are always extremely intense, as the opposing behemoths unload layers of multi-directional fire and their energy meter is slowly chipped at as you drill them with your laser. It can become a matter of surviving long enough to make the other guy drop first.
Somehow, despite the excessive mayhem and surprising firepower provided to both the player and the enemy, a tremendous balance in play is achieved that promotes smart play (using weapons wisely; unleash bombs to sublimate approaching heavy fire!) and careful practice. DoDonPachi appears ridiculous at first, but quickly transforms into something remarkably fair. With a little practice and a knack for piloting an aircraft equipped with a giant piss laser under intense pressure, skillfully playing DDP becomes an art form.
Community review by dogma (March 19, 2004)
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