|Platform(s)||Arcade, EZweb, i-mode, PlayStation, PlayStation Network, Sega Saturn|
|Arcade system||CAVE 68000|
DoDonPachi[a] is a vertically-scrolling bullet hell shoot' em up developed by Cave and published by Atlus in 1997. It was the second game developed by Cave, and the sixth on Cave's first-generation arcade hardware. As with its predecessor DonPachi, the title is both a Japanese term for expressing the sound of gunfire, and a term that relates to bees (here it means "angry leader bee"). The sequel to this game is DoDonPachi II, which was made by a different developer. The original developer later released its own sequel, DoDonPachi DaiOuJou.
Compared to DonPachi, DoDonPachi is generally known for introducing new gameplay elements while improving or changing existing ones. The overall background of the game, unlike following sequels, remains more or less centered around a supposed invasion by a mysterious race of mechanized aliens, which the player is called to face throughout its run. However, more sinister and shocking secrets lie beneath the surface, accessible only to those brave and skilled enough to clear the entire game.
The player takes on the role of a squadron fighter facing a race of mechanized aliens that recently appeared and started causing havoc. There are three different ships to choose between, and each ship can be played in Laser or Shot mode.
Each aircraft has a main forward-firing gun used by tapping the two shot buttons, the style of which is determined by the type of fighter chosen. Each ship also has two small floating guns which it deploys at the start of the game. The placement of the guns is different on each craft, which affects their firing style. If the fire button is held down, the floating guns combine in front of the ship to produce a vertical beam, which provides more firepower than standard fire. This also makes the ship move more slowly. An aura is generated around the player's ship, which damages any contacting enemy. If the laser is fired at close proximity to an enemy, the laser delivers more damage to the enemy.
The ship has a limited number of bombs, which are activated by pressing the bomb button. There are two types of bombs that can be used at any time the player could normally use, and there is no penalty for picking a particular bomb to use, aside from the point reductions that using a bomb might give said player. These bombs are triggered based on whether the player is using standard fire or laser fire when the bomb button is pressed:
At the beginning of the game, the player has three bomb slots, and the slot count increases by one every time the player loses a life (up to six slots).
Each ship can be played with a Shot or Laser boost, making the chosen mode of firing more powerful; the mode is chosen as the player chooses their ship:
When the player loses a life, the chosen weapon's power is decreased by one, and the other weapon's power is decreased to the lowest level.
There are three types of power-up items in the game, identified by different letters:
New to DoDonPachi is the addition of "MAXIMUM mode". This mode is triggered whenever a bomb is collected when all bomb slots are full. During MAXIMUM mode, the player's score increases by at least 220 points per 1/60th second, except during boss fights. The score multiplier begins with 2, and increases by 1 for every successive bomb collected in MAXIMUM mode. Whenever a bomb is used or the player loses a life, MAXIMUM mode ends until bomb overstocking occurs again, which will cause the multiplier to resume at the last multiplier value. The multiplier is carried over to successive stages (including new loops).
The Get Point System (GPS) from DonPachi is improved. Destroying an enemy or part of an enemy increases the combo by 1 and builds up a combo gauge on the left side. The combo gauge constantly drains, and the combo is broken when it empties. Using the laser to continuously damage an enemy will maintain a low level on the gauge and periodically increases the combo by 1. The player receives an increasing number of points for the same enemy with a larger hit count.
In boss battles, there is no combo gauge. A combo hit counter simply increases when the boss is hit by the player's Laser or Laser Bomb, and decreases otherwise. The part of the boss being hit can be a non-critical portion to increase the hit count, but not including enemies released by the boss after the boss battle began.
The game has 7 areas, but area 7 is only accessible by entering the 2nd loop. Said 2nd loop is accessible by completing the first 6 areas on 1 credit and fulfilling one of the following requirements:
The second loop has the same areas, enemy patterns, and bosses as the first loop, but the number of bullets the enemies fire is greatly increased. Destroying the area 6 boss in the second loop unlocks a secret area where the player fights the trademark boss of the series, the giant mechanical bee Hachi (蜂; 'bee'). When the player defeats it, they will then fight Hibachi (火蜂; 'fire bee'), the true final boss in DoDonPachi. If it is defeated then the best ending is achieved. After completing an area, the player gains the following scores based on performance in the completed area:
If the second loop is completed with 1 credit, the player gets 10 million points for each reserved fighter.
If players fail to meet the requirements for second loop access, they are simply congratulated by the DonPachi Corps leader, Colonel Schwarlitz Longhener, for their bravery in battle. No credits will be presented to the player for finishing the game this way.
Should the requirements be met, however, Longhener reveals - in a shocking twist - that the "mechanized aliens" were in fact the pilot's own comrades (the International version of the game renders this as a "lost fleet" legendary among cadets) trying to actually stop them, being aware of Longhener's nefarious scheme revealed in the true and final ending. Having served its purpose, Longhener orders his elite fleet to annihilate the pilot, and on this premise the second loop of the game begins.
If the player completes the game once again, this time without any kind of requirement except the annihilation of the ultimate fighting machine Hibachi (in which Longhener is killed piloting), in the true ending the pilot realizes that the DonPachi's true goal was to annihilate the human race, owing to Longhener's deranged idea that mankind was a flawed creation to be eradicated from existence. The existing problems of overpopulation, environmental pollution, and arms races were solved by this one-man war. The pilot wonders in the end if maybe Longhener - instead of being the genocidal maniac he claimed to be - had actually intended this extreme solution from the very beginning. The staff credits appear afterwards.
DoDonPachi was first released in Japanese arcades by Atlus on February 5, 1997, using the CAVE 68000 board. On November 6, 1998, a sountrack album containing music from the game and ESP Ra.De. was co-published exclusively in Japan by Scitron and Gamest. On September 18, 1997, a conversion for the Sega Saturn was published by Atlus in Japan featuring an exclusive "Saturn" mode containing a new stage and boss, as well as the ability to change its difficulty setting and enemy patterns, in addition of gameplay mechanics. On September 10, 1998, a version for PlayStation was developed and published by SPS, featuring the ability of manually slowdown the game and a "wait-control" system that toggles in-game slowdown on or off. Both the Saturn and PlayStation ports have horizontal (YOKO) and vertial (TATE) display settings, however the ship must be selected in the options menu if TATE display is selected when playing the latter release.
On September 17, 2002, a conversion of DoDonPachi for i-mode mobile phones titled DoDonPuchi was distributed by Cave through their Gaesen Yokocho service. On March 31, 2003, an updated version of DoDonPuchi titled DoDonPuchi Zero was also distributed by Cave for i-mode phones through Gaesen Yokocho. On June 3, 2004, DoDonPuchi was released for EZweb cellphones divided as two separate titles. On May 26, 2010, the PlayStation port was re-released for PlayStation Network by Hamster Corporation in Japan as part of their Game Archives series. An Xbox 360 version was included as a bonus in the 2011 visual novel Instant Brain, featuring online leaderboards and Kinect support. In February 2012, an unofficial hack for arcades dubbed DoDonPachi Arrange was released online, featuring alterations to the GPS and gameplay mechanics, among other changes.
DoDonPachi received a remixed arcade edition dubbed DoDonPachi Campaign Version, which was handed out as a first-place prize on a contest hosted by Cave to promote the Sega Saturn conversion, where each participant was asked to submit their highest possible score within a three-day period of the event. This limited edition is also referred as DoDonPachi Special Version and DoDonPachi Blue due to its title screen. Campaign Version runs on a different arcade hardware and is essentially the same game as the original DoDonPachi but with an extreme increase in difficulty and bullets on-screen, featuring a primitive incarnation of the "Hyper Mode" mechanic that would later be seen in DoDonPachi DaiOuJou, among other gameplay alterations.
Only one DoDonPachi Campaign Version-branded PCB is confirmed to exist under ownership of contest winner "ZBL-NAI", although it is rumored that a total of 100 units were manufactured and some are speculated to be owned by other contest participants, while one unit was reportedly present at the "Daytona III" arcade center at Tokyo. Campaign Version made a brief appearance at the first "Cave Matsuri" festival held at the "HEY!" arcade center at Akihabara in December 2006, where two PCBs were available for attendees to play. In a 2010 press conference, former Cave producer Makoto Asada claimed that no additional boards were produced and the company lost its source code, effectively exposing Campaign Version to the risk of being lost forever in case of hardware malfunction.
In a 2018 interview, Analogue CEO Christopher Taber stated that he pitched the idea of licensing a limited run of DoDonPachi Campaign Version arcade boards to Cave, which never came to fruition due to the necessary components for manufacturing PCBs no longer being production and Cave did not have spare units either.
|M! Games||(SS) 76%|
|Saturn Fan||(SS) 8.4/10|
|Sega Saturn Magazine||(SS) 7.33/10|
DoDonPachi was generally well received by critics since its arcade debut and later on other platforms. Readers of the Japanese Sega Saturn Magazine voted to give the Saturn port a 8.9766 out of 10 score, ranking at the number 83 spot, indicating a large popular following. The game was included in the 2010 book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.