We've been following Dodonpachi Resurrection [$4.99] for a while now, from its first announcement, to the first gameplay trailer, and even the pricing and release date.  And after all this anticipation, developer Cave's follow up release to the excellent Espgaluda II [$8.99/Lite] actually lives up to the hype. In fact, I like it even more than Espgaluda II, though I'm not necessarily saying one is better than the other. They're very different beasts, and really it's worth owning both if you like top-down shooters. But Dodonpachi Resurrection feels like a more well rounded experience, and caters really well to both casual shooter fans and the most hardcore of them all. There's near endless replayability due to an ingenious scoring system, and Dodonpachi Resurrection deserves a spot on every shmup fan's home screen.

Visually, Dodonpachi is a very striking game. There is no fancy Retina Display support, as this is originally an arcade game running at an entirely different resolution, and it would be unrealistic for Cave to redraw all of the artwork to suit the iPhone 4. That said, the game still looks damn good. There are three different screen sizes to choose in the options. Small has a huge border area but makes the graphics look the sharpest. Large fills the iPhone screen with the game and a small border on the bottom, but the sprites and text look slightly blurry. Medium is the default and it's in-between the other two settings. I fancy the large setting, as I don't really like borders in my games and the blurriness honestly isn't that bad. The game is filled with tons of huge explosions, humongous transforming bosses, and dozens of enemies and bullets onscreen at any given time. No matter what screen size you play with, it all ends up looking really impressive.

There are two game modes in Dodonpachi, the original arcade mode and a new iPhone mode. Arcade has you choose from three different ships and three offensive styles. These styles can give you unlimited bomb use, a more powerful alternate cannon to switch to, or a combination of the two. They all can help you in different ways, and as such each ship and style combination has its own leaderboard in OpenFeint. The arcade mode is a lot of fun to be sure, but the iPhone mode with its unique scoring system and brand new Hyper Cannon weapon are what really stand out in the game.

In iPhone mode, there is no need to pick styles, just which ship type you want to use. A divided gauge in the upper right of the screen is used for the SM scoring system. A circular area surrounds your ship, and narrowly avoiding these bullets but letting them pass through this area (known as “scraping”) fills the gauge towards the M side while also building up a multiplier in the upper left of the screen. You can continue to do this all the way until your multiplier hits x1000, if you wish. When the M side of the gauge is full, you can hit the Hyper button to start your ship firing wildly, and control the direction of fire by touching the ship and turning it. If you touch the ship and spin it in circles during this time, you build up your Hyper Cannon which unleashes an enormous beam of destruction that obliterates everything on the screen.

Killing enemies in rapid succession is what fills up the S side of the gauge, and once it's completely full you will gain whatever your multiplier is at for every enemy you destroy. Essentially, you use this SM gauge in a yin-yang like harmony of avoidance and utter destruction in order to achieve incredibly high scores. It's really brilliantly designed, and it may sound complicated on paper but it's pretty easy to grasp onto after playing for a bit. Admittedly, I'm not a hardcore bullet hell shooter guy. I love me some shmup action, but more the typical brand of them, and I've always been apprehensive of the bullet hell type because they just seemed so difficult. Not so with Dodonpachi, and I really understand now how different a bullet hell shooter is and the different type of gameplay it brings to shmups.

And this brings me to what I really appreciate about Dodonpachi Resurrection, you don't have to play it any particular way. Yes, you can endlessly scrape bullets and build huge multipliers, then strategically destroy many enemies in search of massive scores and coveted leaderboard spots. Or you can play it much like a normal shooter, using the bombs and special weapons to destroy the many enemies and bosses in spectacular fashion as you progress through the levels to the end. Heck, I beat the game twice before I even fully understood the scoring system, and had a total blast doing it. This is one of the first games of this kind where I've felt like any type of gamer can get a lot out of the experience.

There's a lot more to Dodonpachi too, like the absolute spot-on relative control system, the excellent brand new music for the iPhone mode, many OpenFeint achievements to unlock, multiple options and difficulty levels, hidden modes, and more. But the bottom line is that if you're a fan of shooters in any way, you'll want to pick up Dodonpachi Resurrection. There's not currently a lite of the game (there's one on the way), but the introductory price of $4.99 will be going for the next few days before jumping to the regular price of $8.99. Also worth noting is that you'll need a 3rd generation device or higher, or an iPad, to run the game due to the insane amount of sprites it pushes at any given time. A veritable love-fest is going on with players in our forums who are enjoying the game as much as I am, and as far as shooters go on the iPhone it doesn't get much better than Dodonpachi Resurrection.

TouchArcade Rating

  • polyplay

    I love the review, and I love that you guys are giving this wonderful game the attention it deserves.

    Cave has a very respectable reputation among arcade and console gamers, and it's fantastic that they are seeing the potential of their style of gameplay realized on iDevices.

  • george

    Coolio, now Raizing Atlus, get in on the act

  • Zonko

    This is simply outstanding, and is even better than Espgaluda. Cave are one of a select group of developers who can actually use the iPhone hardware properly, and code games which run at 60fps with great, highly responsive controls.

    Everyone who likes shooters needs to own this.

  • ZildjianKX

    How well does it play on an iPad since it's not a universal app?

    • jimmie

      It plays very well on iPad. Only I accidentally touch the damn 1x button and get panic.

  • http://twitter.com/BulkSlash BulkSlash

    Absolutely fantastic game, and washes away the somewhat sour taste left by R-Type. Cave have totally perfected the control system for shooters on the iPhone. The ship goes exactly where you want it to, and the SM combo system is brilliant.

    Does anyone know what the hell is going on in the ending to Dodonpachi? The English might be better but it makes even less sense than the Zero Wing's intro!

  • Mekki

    Not specific to this review or reviewer, but I'm getting weary of people who keep talking about "how much work" it would be to "redraw" graphics for higher resolution. People who say this don't understand how professional artists work. Master artwork is always created at much higher resolution than what is released in the final product. Artwork would have to be 're-optimized' but never redrawn unless the artist was a rookie and didn't really know what they were doing, which I doubt is the case here. This is why Cave has had no problem releasing Xbox 360 versions of some of their games.

    This has been a public service announcement.

    • http://www.twitter.com/thewindburn Peter Lettieri

      On that note though, 2D sprite artwork is different as a matter of course than normal scaled down hand-drawn art. Though best practice these days may be more in line with what you're saying (and I agree, it is the smartest way to do things), that wasn't always the case. When artwork was created for a particular device, the optimization for that device influences its entire framework, and I have heard of many cases of the years where artists are left with unworkable assets when subsequently attempting ports from a lower resolution to a much higher one.

      We saw the same issue with Espgaluda II on the 3rd-gen iPhones, so I'm going to say that Cave is in fact running into the above problems and Jared is essentially still correct in conveying the work needing to be undertaken.

      • Mekki

        Espgaluda II is a bad example for you to use, it has already been released on xbox 360.

        People who built low res art for specific devices did it wrong.

    • http://mfdawes.com mixel

      "People who say this don't understand how professional artists work. Master artwork is always created at much higher resolution than what is released in the final product. " - umm, no.

      Pixel art done to the size it is needed. In this case, the arcade original. You cant just draw big and "scale it down" as if it's done properly every pixel counts. Forums full of pixel artists would come and argue against the idea that they're "doing it wrong". 🙂 You do the best you can for the target resolution.

      It would take a lot of work to draw (or in the case of some of the prerendered 3D graphics, rerender, scale down and clean up) new pixel art just for the retina display. Have any 2D pixel-graphic based shooters ever been made at that res natively? Espgaluda2 Xbox360 still has the low res arcade assets, they didn't redraw them in HD resolutions. These high resolution assets just don't exist.. Asking pixel artists to fill 4x the space for a niche platform is a pretty big deal.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_THyMwON_zA&feature=related watch at 720p - the sprites are chunky.

  • Squidzee

    You cannot go wrong with a hyper cannon.

  • foolishwolf

    Son of a...

    I need an iPhone 4 or iPad. I WANT this.

  • James Cude

    Dang- this looks fun but no can do. Non-retina display optimized games just look bad on iPhone 4...

    • Blinky McWeird

      I have an iPhone 4 and it looks great.

  • Ant

    This game definitely lived up to all the hype. I've wanted to play this game since it came to the arcade and I'm glad I finally got to play it. It plays surprisingly well on my iPod. It's interesting how the touch controls make certain situations easier. There have been many times where I find myself saying, "I would have never made it through that using my arcade stick on my 360." I definitely like this better than Espgaluda 2 but that is just a personal opinion. I could never get into that game on my 360 or on my iPod. I can't wait to see what Cave brings us next!

  • Smint

    Oh yay, wait till I get my hands on a ipod touch 4th gen. my second gen can't handle this...T_T

  • Andrej

    Hmm , bought this game today ...and all what I can see its huge laser from my ship (its approx. 1/3 of the display) another 1/3 of the screen is place where you moving your finger and rest of the screen its non stop explosion of something . Also I was trying to avoid some bullets in first two levels then i have realised there is no real reason to do that ... I really don't have any clue why is everyone so "wet" from this game...

    • george

      Got to love the no scmup players who think they know it all.

    • Mekki

      Andrej you are correct, however you could 'get a clue' if you are willing to.

      Check out the scoring thread on the forum, good info there.

  • george

    Ipad love, thank you Cave, take notice Raizing-Atlus-Treasure, there is moneys here to be made if you port your games like cave.

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/ujnhunter Ujn Hunter

    Why are these touted as "iPhone" games when they are specifically "iPhone 4" games! They should be in their own section! It's not an "iPhone" game if I can't play it on my iPhone.

    • Alex

      You can play on a 3rd generation Touch, a 3GS, or a 4.

  • http://www.generationstarwars.com/ John Hood

    Bought whilst on offer, and can't wait to play this on an iPod touch (4G) during the upcoming holiday season.

  • drstonewall

    Love the game and love the times when this genre was popular, not today unfortunately. But I'm glad to see people still devote time to it. I've recently downloaded Space Storm game from the AppStore, its graphics really impressed me, so I aced it totally and decided I've had not enough and got this game. So far so good, like it a lot, thanks guys for such a wondrefull game!!!

  • Plasmakirby3

    Phenomenal review! Being a huge CAVE fan, I joined this site because it gave this game the respect it deserved.

Dodonpachi Resurrection Reviewed by Jared Nelson on . Rating: 5