DonPachi - Atlus / Cave


Reviewed by Michael Miller

Recently there has emerged a sub-genre of shooters refered to as "manic shooters". These are the games whose bullet count rivals that of the NRA. They have so many on screen that they probably slow down the game by themselves! I'm not sure what game started all this (probably Batsugun, although I could be wrong) but what you have here is one of, if not the, best examples of the genre, DonPachi.

Whenever you see this game the first time your reaction will probably be "So? I've seen harder." The first level is nowhere NEAR as difficult as the later levels. This is one game where you'll have to smack continue a few times, believe me.

The graphics are some of the most colorful I've ever seen in this genre, perhaps rivalled only by Mystic Riders. The weird thing is, they don't overpower and become cartoonish. This is a problem with a lot of games of this type, but not here. Everything fits into it's surroundings very well and don't look out of place.

You have three ships to control, each with their own weapon. The green helicopter has two side pods that move when you do, in addition to the forward facing machine gun. The blue ship has the ubiquitous three-way shot, but it's spread out so far it's tough to use efficiently. The orange ship has a forward-firing gun that simply shoots wave after wave of destruction. All of these are powered up by collecting little "P" icons. Innovative, huh? If you hold the fire button, you get a never-ending stream of blasting goodness, but your ship slows down a bit. Don't think this means to a crawl. Nowhere near it. This is one of the fastest moving shooters I've played. Maybe one level in Sengoku Ace is as fast, but only for a while. This game is like that all the time.

The enemies range from your standard shooter cannon fodder to freaky huge bosses. They, quite frankly, scare the poop out of me. The freakiest is the one that shoots these huge red orbs while firing off a never-ending machine gun blast.

GAAAAHHHHH! Sometimes the waves of enemies cover the entire screen and you'll find yourself trying in vain to eke out any kind of non-self-destructive room you can. This game is nuts. The bosses probably aren't the biggest or baddest ever seen, but they are WAY up there. In addition to the aforementioned red-orb spewing beast you also have things like a mine-hurling blue thing that likes to fly around everywhere. Then you have the guy that just kind of sits there. Then he chucks out about a hundred missiles which promptly turn into you-seeking bullets.

GAAAAHHHHH again! If you haven't figured it out already, this game is HARD. But, strangely enough, not the "I'm gonna chuck my controller at the next thing that moves" hard. For some reason whenever you bite it you feel it's your fault. It's not every game that can pull off being this difficult and make you feel like you could beat it on one life.

The sound also helps the mood out. Large explosions sound like large explosions. Machine lasers sound like machine lasers. The music is pretty good, as far as I can tell. I can't remember much of it, but I was trying to avoid like nine gajillion bullets while taking screenshots, go easy on me. There's also the weird voice-over guy. He yells things like "Go for it rookie!" and "Just a few more shots!" during boss encounters. This is really not as bad and annoying as you may think. The guy actually sounds like he is interested in you blowing everything up. He only pops up once or twice a level, so it's hard to be annoyed by him.

As you may have deduced by now, I love this game. The graphics are great, the sound is great, the gameplay is great. That adds up to a great game, if not an absolute classic. I think it is.

Level One:
Lookin' like Raiden...

Level Two:
Over the horizon...

Level Three:
Level Four:
Hillside at winter...

Level Five:
Your typical final stronghold...

Final Boss!:
Thanks to Tormond Tjaberg, we have pics of the final boss!

Fantastic HUGE review by Mike! Cheers man!
DonPachi, one of those games I keep returning to to try and top my pitifully low score. Despite the INSANE amounts of firepower onscreen, it doesn't obscure your vision unlike Batsugun or suchlike, and the game does seem quite easy if you know what you're doing. But Mike, "in one life"? I don't even feel like I can do it in one "credit"! - Akira -


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