Dogyuun - Toaplan


Toaplan - Arcade - 1992

Reviewed by Malc.

Dog-what? Probably one of the least-well-known of Toaplan's shmups, Dogyuun is also one of the finest. But you knew I was going to say that, didn't you? Mind you, it could have easily been dreadful - check out Fixeight - from around the same era, and how disappointing that was.

In a way, it has some proto-ideas that were later used in some Cave titles (especially Feveron), and sports large, solid and highly detailed graphics which are not a million miles away from the likes of Do Don Pachi. But the bullet count is moderate - this is no Batsugun, be sure of that. In fact it reminds me of Outzone more than anything else.

Graphics did I say? As you see them in the shots below. Great Toaplan stuff, everything seems scaled up a lot - the size of your ship is pretty big, and the enemies chunky and generally drawn really nicely (with a few exceptions on some smaller baddies). Bosses are awesome in the main, with some never before seen attacks and quirks. What Dogyuun does, is throw around lots of enemies with speed and ease, and never feels sluggish or boring. There's always something aimed your way.

Soundwise, absolutely brilliant. It has been a long time since I heard such fitting tunes, memorable too, and I've been humming them as I write. Such a shame that the emulated version has no sound, and I'm sorry to rub it in. The music is a part of the whole package, and anyone playing without the tunes and sound effects is getting less fun, no doubt. Or maybe you are one of those people who turn the sound off - something I just can't fathom at all.

Weaponry however, is where Dogyuun loses a point. It isn't obvious at first play as to what is going on, or even for a few plays after that. So I'll take some time to make it a little bit clearer.

Three buttons are in use. The first is fire, the second has a secondary function (more in a bit), and the third picks up things with a rearward forcefield.

If you just shoot, well, you shoot with your main weapon, easy enough to describe that. Picking up rotating-coloured pods gives you a different weapon - choose from a straight blue laser, a green dual shot, a purple wavy homing laser and a red right angle homing laser. So far so good right? Well, picking up more of the same colour doesn't improve your weaponry at all, but it does give you a bonus. So you don't upgrade your weapons, you only change your weapon by using these pods.

You also get 2 different types of module pickup, which are assigned to the second button. Ok there may be more later but I've only seen two so far. You can only only get one at a time too.

You get a bomb module, and pressing the second button fires the bomb. Cool. You can also get a speedy/multiple module, which gives you super speedy mode if you hold the second button, not actually that useful in practice. On some weapons too, it also gives you two multiples at the side of your ship, which sometimes fire things and sometimes don't. Not very consistent.

Now, you can only have one of these modules at a time. Picking up the same type again doesn't do very much, and picking up a different one removes the old one, which floats away. So if you have a bomb module, just fire off the bomb instead of dropping it.

Right, now to button three, the pick up button. This is the complicated button.

This seems to do many things. It can DROP your current module (why!?)

It can also pick up small enemies, but whats the point of that I want to know? They just hang onto the bottom of your ship and do nothing at all. Ok, they might provide a little arse-protection, but that's it, and actually trapping them in the first place will probably cost you a life anyway.

Plus, you can also pick up the 2nd player ship, in 2 player mode, and remove ALL control from him, until you die or let go. This makes your ship big, and also massively increases your main weapon shot. Have a look at the very last 4 screenshots in this review to see the effects.

Now (and this is the fun bit!) you can start a 2 player game, and immediately pick up the 2nd player, and you have super powers throughout the whole game. You dont even need to pickup the 2nd player again when you die, because he's already attached when you resurrect. If you don't drop him again using the third button, the 2nd player ship stays attached until he presses his own third button to disengage.

Well, the weaponry is definitely weird. I'm currently having lots of fun playing in 2 player mode, but with myself. The game is harder, but you have a super ship and weapon throughout, but you pay 2 credits for the privilege.

Now, am I alone in thinking this is possibly the most un-intuitive Toaplan weapon system yet? Have I really sussed it out right? Toaplan's systems are generally MUCH simpler to work out than this!!! OK, its really cool playing in what I'm calling extra-large-with-double-cheese-mode but is it supposed to be like this!? I cant shake the feeling I've got it all screwey!

So, there you have it, an excellent game from a favourite company of mine, and I'm off to have another go right now. Mine's an extra large with double cheese, please!

Level 1 boss >>

Sitting atop a giant mothership, this boss looks an awful lot like a street sweeping machine, with its two brushes at the front. And, it's just as annoying.

Pick it apart bit by bit, starting with the angled laser turrets, leaving you free to demolish the rest at your leisure.

The only real tricky bit its the central curved scythe-type blasts which take you unawares.


<< Level 1 not a boss

Blasting into level one, you get a couple of screens in and accosted by him. Don't worry, he's only a midboss - but by any other shmup standards he'd be an end of level one. This is a great level for experimenting with weapons, using the ripply blue laser dispatches him quick, but is no use for the swarms of rapidly moving enemies which home in a little bit later. That's when green lasers help! Tackling the large mothership that approaches is best done with one of the homing shots, keeping you away from the turrets which pop up under your ship.

Invisible enemies >>

Probably my most hated enemies early on are the little greenish ones here, which suddenly fade in and drop two lasers directly in your way. Watch out for them - either close in and kill quick, or stay out of the way.

Don't give them a chance!


<< Out of the ashes

Levels are really just sections of one super-large level which continues until the very end (I think). Here, the golden baddy bloke swoops out of the dying mothership. Then, level two starts proper...

This level is quite dull actually, and doesn't bode well for the rest of the game. But this is only the lull, as level 3 has a brilliant surprise up its sleeve - but more of that later!

Badly drawn enemies >>

See that red thing with circular bits on it? This is a really really badly drawn baddy, it stands out so much compared to the general niceness of everything else. I find I dislike it so much I try and kill them first. I wonder if I was supposed to do that? Keep a blue ripply laser on hand to take care of the little green tie fighter baddies, they close in really quick!


<< Red Angle laser

Still on level two, and we're using the red right angle laser here, which is great for picking off ground emplacements. However, your forward fire is quite diluted by using this, so be careful not to let anything get too close.

You'll need it! >>

See his green lasers? Well, you need to counteract them by throwing your own laser back at him. Once you have the pattern of attacks down, he can be beaten easily. In fact, his most dangerous attack is the ones with the small electric balls (above)


<< Golden boy

Aha! Now we've caught up with this mechabloke again, and things suddenly SEEM to get harder - much harder! Filling the screen and more, he is absolutely giant, but is in reality a bit of a walkover once you know his patterns. Try and make sure you have a blue ripply laser here, because.....

Feveron anyone? >>

Ok, I know, it doesn't look a thing like it, but the collect and dodge mechanic is pretty much the same. Grab as many bonuses as you can whilst avoiding very fast bullets certainly says Feveron to me. Definitely an inspiration, and a totally inspiring level too.


<< Speed up!!

Now the real genius of Dogyuun begins! This level is worth the admission price alone. Suddenly - everything begins to speed up really fast, the screen whizzes by dangerously, and TONS of bonus medals appear as you shoot the ground thingies. And I mean TONS!

Twirly Nuggets >>

Again, things get hazy. These things can sometimes spin really fast, and take a lot of hits to kill.

I'm not sure if you have to make them spin fast somehow and this causes the kill. Somebody fill me in please? I am confused.


<< Speedy Tea Urns

Still in level 3, and Really Tricky Bit Number One is here. Often I get here with all my lives and then lose them all. I'm not sure of an easy method to get by them either, as their tops blow off and circle round faster and faster, and blow you away before you know what hit you. I think luck and luck alone gets me by this bit!!

Tie me kangaroo down>>

Here they are, they come flying out of the mothership, and spin a circle round down the bottom. Now, lets spin round them too you may say, but that where the green angled lasers start. NASTY!


<< Eat Laser Death

As they say. Level 3's boss is a mother. And its babies will kill you. Avoiding the giant laser is pretty easy, with sonic and visual cues letting you know, but its the spinny boomerangs that cause the biggest grief.

Scorpion boss - Level 4 >>

Actually much easier than first appears, your biggest worry with Scorpy is his claws. When he comes in close, make sure you are outside of the claws. Staying inside when he is too close is NOT a good idea.


<< Hot eagle on my 12 o'clock

Looking like a giant eagle of sorts, this mid boss has a really horrible foot swipe attack, again, I have no strategies for this at all. Apart from shoot it lots and avoid the feet. Sorry.

The Nondescript Level >>

Pretty sure we're on level 5 now, and this is normally as far as I will get on one credit, playing in ordinary 1 player mode (or playing really well, actually)

I'm at a loss as to what to say here, for once. Shoot Shit.


<< Lightning Storms

You know when either bosses start flashing red or go all blue and fizzy like this they are going to die soon. And you know in the best shmups, that's when they save their fiercest firepower. Like here, Scorpy gets close and personal when this happens.

Water lot of trouble >>

This is why I wanted to take pics up to level 5. This game reminds me a lot of a straight shmup version of Outzone, another brilliant Toaplan game. This dam boss has floating winged things, you see them? Well...


<< Not Armless

This bloke is the reason why I don't get much further here. He has these arms, right, and he fires them out at you, right, and they always hit me, right. Unerringly. Gah.

Flash Flood >>

Because it blows this HUGE blast of fire at you, and you can only survive by hiding under the umbrella bits!! Lovely! When you kill him, the dam bursts, and the rest of the level is played with a few feet of water covering most stuff.

Next, I'll show you some of the weapons in "joined up mode" >>


<< Protection from the weather

... So don't shoot them all away, if you can help it. The rain now comes thick and fast, without warning.

Choose a NON-homing weapon, definitely!

Lots and lots of Lasers >>

And here's the red lasers witha twinned ship setup - you get much much more of them, joined up! It's a shame somehow that the 1 player normal game doesn't upgrade your weaponry at all, but I suppose they did it that way to help balance that game.


<< Captain Beefheart

As mentioned in the main review, here are the player 1 and 2 ships joined up. Look at that phat blue laser go! Its great fun playing as a 1 player game like this, things get appropriately harder too. Ok, I don't think it was supposed to be this way, and it costs 2 credits, but it sure is fun :)

Jolly Green Giant Laser >>

Now this is more like what the normal 1 player green weapon should have been like I reckon - 4 streams of instant killing green lightning. Actually there should be 6 showing here, but they flicker. Not just that double sucker in 1 player. Normally I'll avoid the green weapon like the plague as it leaves a large area directly in front of your ship without any firepower at all.


<< Neon Twisters of Doom

Mmmm who can resist quadruple homing fire purple blob weapons? Not me!

Unfortunately, MAME does not offer sound in Dogyuun - its encrypted or something. Otherwise it plays exactly the same. The tunes were sadly missed when I was doing the snapshots - the game seems drab and much less of a whole without them. Plus the audio cues on some bosses, when they are about to burp a laser or whatever, all are missing as well.

So although it wasn't the easiest board to get a hold of, it wasn't the most expensive either, and if you are into pcbs, definitely pick it up, as this is surely one of Toaplan's best before they broke up as a company. It's just not very well known as the rest of their titles, is all. - Malc


shmups!   © 1997 - 2007  Malcolm Laurie