Bliss is the word.
There is no doubt that hardcore shooters are an acquired taste, but CAVE have certainly done more than most to cater for both beginners and those raised on a diet of bullets.
DoDonPachi Blissful Death arrives ten years after the original arcade machine emerged into Japanese arcades and is the second game in a trilogy of arcade shooters and the second game in that series to make its way to the iOS platform. Confusingly, the first was DoDonPachi Resurrection, which is the third game in the series. Not that it really matters, the storylines don’t exactly take centre stage in these games.
For those that care, though, Blissful Death is set some thousand years after the first DoDonPachi and the exiled machines from the first game that had been buried on the moon are reawakening, spelling trouble for mankind. The answer? Use special robot pilots called Element Dolls to fly in and attack the robot forces, starting a massive machine on machine battle.
The Element Dolls are pretty important to the game, you get to choose from one of three female pilots who have special abilities. Shotia enhances shot power while adding to the defence capabilities of the craft via bombs, Leinyan adds laser power and more defensive protection and Exy goes for all out firepower and speed with only 1 bomb for defence, making her the expert choice of the team.
In addition to this there are four difficulty levels which range from Novice to the infamous Hell difficulty. The number of enemies and bullets are varied based on the difficulty but even on Novice the average player may find that dodging the myriad of projectiles heading their way might be a tough task.
But CAVE games are all about scores and trying not to wipe your high score out by dying. CAVE acknowledge this through Game Center and Openfeint support and worldwide leaderboards on both. Expert players will have a tough task ahead of them to stay anywhere near the top of the leaderboard if previous games are anything to go by and I certainly couldn’t match any of the scores already listed.
The main difference in gameplay between Ressurection and this prequel is that Blissful Death is all about surviving rather than the bullet cancelling from the previous game. This really makes it a game for the expert player and certainly requires faster reactions. I hold my hand up as someone who died a fair few times in my attempts to play through to the end. Interestingly, as you play the game rewards you for the next playthrough with extra credits and hints in the game’s manual. It’s a nice touch that gives you an incentive to keep going back and getting that elusive high score.
Just as with Resurrection, Blissful Death manages to bring all the action to the small screen of the iPhone perfectly. An option to change the size of the screen is very welcome, allowing more or less space for control area or displaying the action as players see fit. With so much going on on-screen it’s difficult to take it all in, but watch someone else play and you’ll appreciate the depth of detail and the sheer number of enemies on screen at once. This does mean that the game can only really be played on 4th Generation devices and above, with the iPhone 4S (the device this game was mostly played on) being a perfect platform for the action without any sign of slowdown.
Controls will be familiar to CAVE fans, moving your finger around anywhere on the screen will move your ship and their are laser, bomb and shot control options on the left hand side that can be repositioned. These work perfectly alongside the ability to allow for more screen space for controls depending on your preference and controlling the ship soon becomes second nature.
DoDonPachi Blissful Death is more Bullet Hell, more of the time. It’s significantly more difficult than Resurrection to gain a good score and relies on a good knowledge of enemy patterns and levels. This might put some newer gamers off and anyone new to the series would probably be better of starting with the other game, but for Bullet Hell veterans, Blissful Death might be just the challenge they need.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 9
- Longevity: 8
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