Welcome to the latest edition of Co-Op International. Here I discuss co-op games that have not been released in the US. This will include current gen games as well as classics. We hope you’ll enjoy learning more about Japanese games – please let us know in the comments section!
In last month’s Co-Op International, I praised Bullet Soul for its relatively fair difficulty. Bullet hell shoot-em-ups, y’see, have become increasingly tough over the years. These days, the average shmup is just plain too challenging for normal human players. It’s no coincidence that the majority of bullet hell shmups come from Japanese developer CAVE. When I interviewed one of the development team a while back, he revealed an unyielding and challenge-focused design philosophy. Dodonpachi Resurrection, the subject of this month’s article, perfectly exemplifies CAVE’s goal of making tough-as-nails shmups.
Dodonpachi Resurrection (aka Dodonpachi Dai-Fukkatsu) is the latest in the long-running Dodonpachi series, unless we count Windows Phone-exclusive Dodonpachi Maximum, a remix of sorts. Resurrection boasts a relatively complex plot for an arcade-style shmup, most of which is conveyed by the manual rather than the game itself. Six years after the previous game Blissful Death, the peacekeeping Dodonpachi Corps detect a space-time rift. An Element Doll (a huge, sentient, and girl-shaped mecha) has fled to the past and mutated into a virus, creating a new robotic army. Thus the nameless, faceless Dodonpachi fighters must travel back in time to prevent the threat from wiping out humanity and changing the future into the dark one seen in Back to the Future 2 or something. In truth, the setup doesn’t matter very much, as most players won’t reach the true ending and see the actual payoff.
Resurrection features three types of ships, all with different shot types and movement speeds. Each ship has two primary types of fire: a wide shot and a concentrated laser. Lasers are more powerful and can negate some enemy lasers (not bullets), but your ship slows down while firing them. Ships can also go into Hyper mode for a brief time after killing enough enemies and/or collecting a powerup. During Hyper, damage output increases and the player enjoys a brief period of invincibility. Knowing when to activate hyper or switch between the various shot types is essential to mastering the game, though I never fully got my head around it.
The first song in this trailer isn't in the game, but you must hear it.
Shot styles provide even more tactical depth. After choosing their ships, both players must select one of three styles: Bomb, Power, or Strong. Bomb style allows players to stock bombs and use them at will; if you take a hit and have bombs in stock, you’ll automatically use a bomb instead of losing a life. With Power style, rather than using bombs, players have the ability to toggle between strong and weak attacks, changing the ship speed accordingly. Finally, Strong style (my favorite) provides maximum firepower plus the ability to stock and use bombs at will.
Allow me to list my favorite aspects of the game. The 2D art is quite solid, with a fair amount of detail and occasional layers of parallax scrolling. I also liked the five main level bosses, who are Element Dolls. Being humanoid and female, they show a lot more personality than typical genre bosses. The Element Dolls are rendered in CG and spout untranslated Japanese phrases during combat. They also take oceans of bullets to kill, which leads me to my next point...