Publisher: Rising Star Games
Developer: Cave Company Ltd
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Import)
Release Date: November 11, 2011
Price: $30.00 – Available Here
Cave is a company that has made quite the reputation for itself by making 2D shooters, now more commonly known as ‘Shmups’. Their games have primarily stayed in Japan, and at one time only a few elite (and rich) import gamers were aware of their existence. While the main focus of the company has always been on the arcade (coin-up) platform, they’ve released some masterful console ports over the years, many of which are now quite expensive to acquire.
In the beginning, their focus was on the Sega Saturn and later the Dreamcast. Interestingly enough, in this console generation the company has been extremely loyal to the Xbox 360, which is still surprising considering how poorly the console has performed there.
Cave has released several exclusive shmups for the Japanese Xbox 360, and unfortunately most of them are region locked with maybe one or two exceptions (such as Mushihimesama Futari). The Japanese Xbox 360 really feels like a whole different console, because of all the support it has gotten from Cave and other Japanese companies with plenty of exclusive releases which not only include shmups, but also RPGs, fighting games, and visual novels. If you’re a serious import gamer then a Japanese Xbox 360 is something you should consider investing in.
However, you don’t really have to buy a Japanese Xbox 360, as some of these niche titles by Cave have quietly made their way to western territories and are fully localised. DeathSmiles and Guwange are some examples. Not to mention, Cave’s recent hit, Akai Katana Shin, is confirmed for an early 2012 PAL release.
Cave started their shmup legacy with a game called DonPachi, and it has since become their mainstay franchise. DodDonPachi Resurrection is the most recent entry in this series, and is currently available for the PAL Xbox 360.
I’ve been a proud owner of a Japanese Xbox 360 since day 1, and have owned the Japanese version of DoDonPachi Resurrection, which was titled DonDonPachi DaiFukkatsu. On that note, the Japanese version is in review here, but it is identical to the PAL release.
While games like DoDonPachi Resurrection may come across as a simple, retro arcade pass time. A lot of attention goes into their artwork and plot, and is part of the reason why importers enjoy collecting them so much. The game has this rather strange and convoluted sci-fi plot about computer viruses, time travel, and a big military war involving all sorts of futuristic war machines and robots. The main adversaries are these five giant female robots called the Element Daughters, and they serve as the main bosses, and each of stages end with an intense battle with one of them. You’re not going to be playing a game like DoDonPachi Resurrection for the sake of its story, but you can look forward to an elaborate sprite based ending and enjoy the character artwork.
Visuals and Audio:
DoDonPachi Resurrection is a fairly retro looking game, and if you’ve seen/played any game in this genre then it will look very familiar. It uses a mix of sprites and some polygons, but it mostly has that retro 2D look that shooters had back in the 90s. That said, everything looks and run nicely on the Xbox 360, and the resolution is rather crisp. The artwork and character designs are pretty cool too.
Games like DoDonPachi Resurrection are dubbed as ‘Bullet Hell’ games, and it won’t take you long to realise why. There is an insane amount of activity taking place on screen, with hoards and hoards of enemies and a mind bogglingly amount of projectiles occupying the screen. There are literally thousands of little coloured bullets and missiles coming at you. It does get very overwhelming with so many different types of particle effects going on simultaneously, but it’s still impressive to behold.
The sound effects are what you would normally expect from a Shmup title, and the soundtrack is a mix of rock and hard techno with some interesting styles. There isn’t anything particularly exciting about the music of but it’s serviceable enough and gives the game a strong anime vibe.
DoDonPachi Resurrection seemingly plays like a very traditional and old school shmup title. If you’ve somehow managed to play the previous import only entries on the Sega Saturn and PlayStation 2 then the formula is largely the same except there are some new mechanics and systems in place.
You get to choose one of three battle ships: red, blue and green. They each offer a different shot style in terms of their basic missile spread attack, as well as in terms of mobility speed. The red ship offers a concentrated attack, and the blue ship offers a wider spread shot, while the green ship allows you to control the direction of its shot. Apart from that you get to choose between the type of secondary offense you want, you can choose the traditional screen filling bomb attack or a boost mode that powers up your ship’s attack but slows it down a bit. Each ship can also fire a concentrated beam at the cost of mobility, and also pull off a hyper laser attack that counters enemy offence.
It’s pretty clear by now that this game isn’t a straightforward shooter, there are several intricate mechanics in place here, mastering of which will allow you to conquer the game easily, possibly even beating on a single credit.
The game itself is structured like any shmup title as you essentially just shoot anything that moves and do your best to dodge an onslaught of enemy offence, and face a boss at the end of each stage. There is a gradual difficulty progression where things get increasingly difficult, and the boss battles and their patterns get increasingly large and complex. It’s quite the exhilarating and challenging experience, one that requires a million retries and a lot of memorisation.
DoDonPachi Resurrection is a welcome release, and is refreshing to see such obscure and niche titles arriving in Western regions. The game is an excellent place to start if you want to experience a truly traditional and unique Cave shooter experience, and if you find yourself enjoying it then you can also try their other localised releases like Death Smiles and Guwange.
The experience offered in DoDonPachi Resurrection is uniquely Cave, while it does not have the unique gameplay gimmicks or modern visual style of Treasure produced shooters such as Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun, it does have unique and noticeably different aesthetic, design, layout, and pattern.
All that said, DoDonPachi Resurrection is a seriously hardcore shmup title, and there isn’t any modern gaming convention or hook to win you over. Games like Ikaruga, Radiant Silvergun and Strania look and feel modern because of their graphics engine and gameplay mechanics, and while they are challenging titles, they are not nearly as hardcore or intense as DoDonPachi Resurrection.
Cave’s latest classic, Akai Katana Shin, gets a Western release in a few months, and based on my experience with the Japanese version, that is one title that you should definitely be excited about if you’re a fan of the genre. Until then, you can get your hands dirty with DoDonPachi Resurrection and familiarise yourself with the world of Cave shooters.