Few things in this world get my blood
pumping like a good shooter, and this, my friends, is a good shooter.
Perhaps not as good as it's Saturn and arcade counterparts (well,
ok, it isn't), it still holds it's head up high as one of the few
examples of how to program effective 2D on the PSX, a system that
we all know has a serious aversion to sprites.
Will wonders never cease?!??
As a very intense experience, Dodonpachi loves to throw a universe
of shots your way, ohhh... every 2 seconds. And unlike the Takumi
shooters which provide you with a way of tossing it all back, Dodonpachi
just gives you a miniscule hit box (it must be the center pixel on
your ship) and leaves the rest to skill.
But what good is all of this if the
host hardware can't handle the strain of all this spritage occurring
Well, let me tell you, the PSX pulls this off with flying colours.
Somehow SPS managed to get the PSX to handle everything, with only
a few brief hints of slowdown throughout (in fact, they were so cocky
with how well they had converted the game, that they actually included
a slowdown button!). Wave after wave of feeder fish assualt you with
frenzied patterns and the PSX just keeps on grinning, bosses appear
and toss the Milky Way at your fighter and the PSX just sits there
smiling (probably steaming too), even the between-stage loading sequences
last a mere 5 or 6 seconds... and this is all in VERTICAL MODE boys
That's right, SPS get another thumbs-up for managing to get the PSX
to perform in the full-screen vertical mode (Tate mode). And really,
the standard letterboxed horizontal mode is too small and squished
to play the game any other way.
Ahhh, but there must be something wrong... something amiss. This is
the 2D ineptitude that is the PSX after all. We now come to a little
something I like to call "the flaw".
All that glitters isn't gold.
Alas, SPS did what they could at a price, in Tate mode you can only
choose one fighter, and one fighter only. You have to select the red
ship, the green helicopter, or the blue ship in the Options menu and
then enter the actual game. In 2 player mode, both players end up
being the same fighter (the only difference being that you can choose
the rapid fire or laser fire variations for each fighter), which takes
something away from the overall experience, unless both players happen
to prefer the same fighter. Obviously, this comes down to the limitations
of the host's miniscule on-board memory. But if you mainly only play
DDP on single player and with a single credit, this becomes a moot
In the end, I come away impressed
with what SPS accomplished, considering the daunting task of porting
Cave's super-shooter to a system that isn't 2D-friendly. Although,
a bit limited, the game shines in single player as a fair facsimile
of the Saturn and arcade revs.
This game doesn't really use any 2D-tricks of any kind, heck, parralax
scrolling only makes a few brief appearances, but what is here reminds
me more of R-Type. Your craft and the enemies you face are brimming
with detail. This even becomes more apparent when you square off against
any of the games bosses, who love taking up at least half the screen.
Huge, multi-jointed (can you say "16-bit mainstay" boys and girls?)
affairs they be, who rain down pain and suffering in torrents designed
to wash away the nuisanse that is your puny craft. There's even beauty
in the bullet patterns themselves. Although, by far, the most jaw-
dropping (gotta love those gaming cliches) effect is your enormous
lasergasm strike. Simply hold down fire and then release a nuke to
unleash an enormous rippling beam of energy that has so much force
that it actually pushes your fighter backwards. And with that, we
Shoot, shoot, shoot... well, duh! DDP (for those who actually HAVEN'T
played this game in some form or another, shame on you!) offers you
3 individual craft each sporting a shooter essential (or is it stereotype?):
Red for rapid forward with a little bit of spread, Green for focussed
forward firepower and options that fire in the direction you bank
your fighter (read: right and left) and finally Blue for that weak,
wide spread. Each fighter has two variations: rapid fire and laser
fire. Rapid is what it sounds like while Laser is a concentrated beam
that slows you down but has massive strength. Since your fighter can
perform rapid and laser variations, you must choose which you plan
on focussing on. If you choose Rapid-Style as your focus, your ship
will fire more shots, but your laser beam will be slim. If you choose
Laser-Style, your shots will be fewer and far between, but your laser
beam will be wider than your ship. This adds a welcome wrinkle into
the otherwise straight-forwardness of the game. And of course, if
things get too hectic for you, you've always got a screen-clearing
nuke to fall back on. But even the nukes themselves can be altered
depending on which type of firepower you're using at the time. Nuking
while firing rapid results in a huge bomb, while muking while firing
laser results in a massive magnification to your beam. Again, a slight
but effective change of pace from the norm. Aside from that you have
your standard weapon power-ups, extra nukes, and the occasional 1UP
to extract from the enemies. Personally, I prefer simplicity in my
shooters when it comes to the weapons systems, and this game is simple
yet brutally efficient.
Plenty of booming explosions over heavy 80's style guitar riffs. I
highly recomend it. In fact, the soundtrack is all red-book, so you
can simply pop the game into a CD player and listen. Other than that,
there's really nothing in the SFX department that you haven't heard
already. Are you complaining? I'm not.
This game certainly has difficulty in spades, although, an experienced
pilot can pull off bullet-dodging spectacles that would put Gould
Goa Bowman to shame. Hard, but totally satisfying is how I would sum
up DDP. It's one of those shooters that you can play for minutes or
hours. In other words folks, this one is utterly replayable!
Excellent review there Kiken! And so
HUGE too :D
Alas, yes, PlayStation CAN handle good 2D games! Dodonpachi on the
PSX is actually very very close to the arcade version, more so than
the Saturn version. The graphics are astoundingly detailed and there's
none of the "explosion pixellation" present in the Saturn
version. Only problem I have with the game is the way you have to
select your ship from the Options menu if you're playing in full verical
mode, but thats a small price to pay for a great game overall. Now
why the heck Sony veto's it's US release is beyond me... - Felix