Cave might as well trademark the phrase ‘Bullet Hell’ as their own.
Their arcade shoot-em-ups are about as manic and over-the-top as they come. Espgaluda II first saw life in Japanese arcades back in 2005. With Dodonpachi Resurrection, a sequel to the amazing Dodonpachi, being arguably the best, it’s unsurprising that it also became the next game to reach the App Store.
Espgaluda II really set the vertical scrolling shooter section of the App Store alight when it was released. Prior to this, titles such as 1942 were fun, but slow and lacking modern pace. The game throws millions of bullets at your little ship and it’s up to you to avoid them, or at least as many of them as possible.
Collecting power-ups makes the job a bit easier, as does the shield that you can alternate with return fire. It turns the game into a frantic strategic affair while at the same time requiring lightning fast responses and only the best will be able to get anywhere near the high scores (the main aim of the game for many).
Boss battles are the other mainstay of these games and Espgaluda II doesn’t disappoint here. Some of the bosses are just mad and will test even the hardest gamer. Don’t think it will disappoint you, though, as the fun you’ll have just being over-indulged in mad bullet mayhem will dispel any issues you might have with difficulty.
Arcade mode captures the arcade game and various other versions, such as the Xbox Live release, perfectly. It may only be on a small screen if you’re not playing on iPad, but Cave have done wonders getting this running smoothly on 3GS with so much going on. The new iPhone mode improves further, mostly through a revamp of the scoring system and a new attack which helps you increase your score multiplier while giving you a way to protect yourself.
Dodonpachi Resurrection is based on the cult Japanese 2008 arcade game where the idea is to avoid as many bullets as possible while trying to kill pretty much anything that moves, then face off against some pretty impressive bosses. OK, so now you’re thinking that this sounds pretty much exactly the same as Espgaluda II, but there are important differences.
Firstly, the iPhone mode has a unique scoring system which involves trying to concentrate on 2 things at the same time is in place here. An M gauge fills as you dodge bullets and, once full, leads to a massive output of firepower that can be rotated around your ship. This is useful for mid-level enemies, but essential for end of level bosses. I can’t state how much fun this weapon is to use. The other side, or ‘S’ gauge, is your more traditional score multiplier, which adds up as you kill enemies.
Secondly, Dodonpachi Resurrection is far more accessible. It feels as if it’s a step beyond Espgaluda II in terms of the depth the game provides, making it the easier of the two to get into if you’re new to the genre or just can’t take the massive enemy reign of fire that constantly bombards you.
The Arcade option pretty much re-creates the original arcade game, as expected. While this is welcome, the original ratio of the game means that you’ll either have black borders on each side or stretched out graphics. Both options have their pros and cons and, in fairness, having 2 options to display the original game can’t be bad. The arcade mode also has a choice of ships with their own unique special abilities, making it a more strategic approach.
Out of the 2 games, Espgaluda II is the more hardcore but they both have a lot to offer and are different enough to warrant owning both, especially if you’re a fan of this genre. Both offer great graphics, while not being HD, and some blisteringly fast action which amazingly runs on 3GS without showing much in the way of strain (3G and lower devices are unsupported, which isn’t surprising going by how much is going on in the game).
There isn’t really anything like Cave’s pair of shooters on the App Store, even now, so we can heartily recommend them both to iOS device owners in need of some Bullet Hell action.
- Sound: 9
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 9
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