Sadly, Dodonpachi Resurrection is just way too hard for someone of my skill level. I’ve been playing shoot-em-ups since the original Galaga, and I’m by no means a bad player. But Resurrection is designed for another type of gamer altogether – someone who plays bullet hell shmups all the time and happily devotes endless hours to mastering them. The first level is tough but manageable; after that, the gloves come way the heck off. The swarms of bullets fired by enemies and bosses are so dense that I often couldn’t even detect safe paths, let alone pull them off. For some people (masochists), that level of challenge is the height of fun. Who doesn't like being kicked in the groin repeatedly, right? For me, it brings what could have been a very fun game down to pain-inducing levels. Resurrection offers unlimited continues, but use even one and you can’t reach the second loop after beating stage 5, and therefore won’t see the true boss(es) or ending. Locking half the game behind a nigh-impenetrable skill wall seems like a bad idea to me, but I’m just not part of Dodonpachi’s tiny intended audience.
Cooperative play doesn’t really alleviate the difficulty, but it does at least add a bit of fun. Of the four game mode: Novice, Xbox 360, Arrange A, and Arrange B, only the first two support 2-player local co-op. Multiplayer makes things even more hectic than single-player since the screen will always be filled with uncountable bullets. Unfortunately, neither player can earn Achievements during co-op games, a strange decision on CAVE’s part. Still, the game is short enough that running through it with a friend won’t take up that much time anyway.
I wish I could recommend Dodonpachi Resurrection to the majority of our readership, but it really is meant for only hardcore shoot-em-up fans. I wouldn’t even buy this one for Achievements – I got 290 GamerScore out of it, and that’s the most I’ll ever get. Then again, the European version of Resurrection, which comes from Rising Star Games (publisher of CAVE’s Akai Katana in the US and Europe), is still a wonderful collectible. It includes a well-written, full color manual that provides lots of helpful information the game itself lacks, plus a full soundtrack CD. So even if your shmup skills aren’t that amazing, it may be worth importing just for novelty’s sake.
Cultural quirks: Mechanical female bosses, some dressed as schoolgirls and maids, are the main quirks you’ll find here. Also, few non-Japanese developers would create a game with such insane difficulty.
Chances of coming to the US: Low-Medium. While Rising Star Games has officially opened their US branch, the European version of Dodonpachi Resurrection came out over a year ago. Considering the audience for bullet hell shmups' small size, much of Resurrection’s potential US audience probably imported it already.
Language barrier: None. As a European release, Dodonpachi Resurrection’s packaging, manual, and the in-game text are written in our language of choice, English. The bosses’ Japanese voice clips go untranslated, but that’s a very minor detail given the lack of in-game focus on story.
Difficulty of importing: Low. The European version of Dodonpachi Resurrection is region-free so it will play on any Xbox 360. Several European retailers will deliver it to the US, including Shopto.Net and Zavvi, for about $30 shipped. Alternatively, US-based NCSX.com sells it too, but they charge about twice as much as Shopto.Net. Finally, if you’d rather play Dodonpachi Resurrection on the go, CAVE publishes an iPhone version ($7.99) and an HD iPhone 4S/iPad version ($13.99) in the US. Of course, the iOS versions lack co-op, but at least they’re affordable.