DoDonPachi is a vertical scrolling shooting game (otherwise known as a shmup) created by the Japanese developer Cave. It was initially released for the arcades, but was ported to the Playstation and Saturn (In Japan only). It is also available on the Xbox 360 as an unlockable Kinect enabled bonus through Cave's visual novel Instant Brain.
As one of the progenitors of the bullet hell subgenre of shooting games, DoDonPachi features large swarms of slow bullets that the player must dodge through, in contrast to most other shooting games available at the time which largely featured smaller amounts of fast bullets. Up to 245 bullets can be on-screen at once.
The player fights against massive swarms of enemies and over the top bosses that fill the screen with stylized bullet patterns. To succeed at this game the player must expertly dodge the massive steam of bullets while chain killing the enemies for score. This chain killing mechanic is a central part of the game. Where a player must keep his Chain Counter Gauge full (in the top left of the screen) by constantly killing enemies and damaging bosses. Bonus Score is added based on constantly keeping this gauge filled. Achieving this bonus is necessary for high level play and to unlock the secret second loop.
Ships & Weapons
When the player starts the game he has a choice of 3 different ships. As is the norm for most Cave games, each ship has two modes of fire: a normal "shot" (activated by repeatedly tapping the Shot button, or holding the Rapid Shot button) and a "laser" (activated by holding down the Shot button). The Laser is narrower and more powerful, and also lowers the movement speed of the player's ship when activated, making it ideal for fighting large enemies and bosses where high damage and precision movement are both desired.
- Type A (Red): Fastest speed, narrow Shot.
- Type B (Green): Medium speed, somewhat narrow Shot. The options (side pods) will rotate their direction of fire somewhat as the ship moves left and right.
- Type C (Blue): Slowest speed, wide Shot.
After choosing a ship type, the player must also choose their desired "weapon type," augmenting the capabilities of either the ship's Shot or Laser.
- Shot Type: Doubles the number of bullets fired by the ship's main Shot, effectively increasing its damage and range.
- Laser Type: Increases the width of the ship's Laser, slightly increases its damage, and grants it the ability to pierce through weak enemies.
The weapon type that's selected will also affect what happens when the player loses a life: the chosen weapon type (Shot for Shot Type, Laser for Laser Type) will only decrease in power by one level, whereas the opposite weapon type will power down to its lowest level.
Each ship also has a limited amount of bombs in case of emergency. Normally, the bomb clears all enemy bullets and damages all enemies on the screen. When a bomb is used while the Laser is active, the Laser will instead grow dramatically in size and damage for a brief moment while granting the player invincibility.
There are 6 stages in the game, as well as a second loop which can be accessed after clearing stage 6 if any one of the following conditions are met:
- No more than 2 lives lost.
- 50 million points scored.
- Collect all 13 hidden bee items in 4 of the 6 stages.
- Obtain a certain hit count, depending on the player's chosen ship type (Type A - 270 hits; Type B - 300 hits; Type C - 330 hits).
The structure of the loop's six stages is identical to the first loop, but all enemies fire far more bullets. The game's true last boss will appear after the final stage of the second loop.