Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 3GS
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Danmaku Unlimited is an homage to the japanese style of 2D shooter commonly known as bullet hell shooters. These bullet hell shooters differ from other top down 2D shooters in one immediately recognizable way: more bullets to dodge; lots and lots more bullets. In the case of Danmaku Unlimited, the concept of bullet hell on an iOS device is taken to a whole new level both in intensity and execution.
Bullet hell shooters like Danmaku Unlimited are popular because of the unique challenge they present to hard-core 2D shooter fans. Unfortunately, this usually makes these kind of games inaccessible to the more casual 2D shooter fan. Danmaku Unlimited gets around this predicament in two ways. First, the game has easy, normal, and hard difficulty levels. Second, instead of employing the usual "bullet hit ship, ship blows up" mechanic common to shooters, Danmaku shrinks the ship's hit zone down to a miniscule glowing orb on the ships back. This might seem like it would make things too easy, but once the bullets start flying the size of the hit zone makes this shooter much better suited for smaller screens than most.
Other than these differences, Danmaku Unlimited plays like most 2D shooters with some extras that are common to the genre. Players can choose from three different ship types, or more specifically, three different firing configurations: a wide, spreading shot, a focused shot, and a balance between the two. However, there is little functional difference from one firing configuration to the other. This fact is only compounded by the ability to switch to a beam weapon which is by far the game's most powerful weapon and forgoes the need to worry about any of the other weapon configurations.
Danmaku does have some unique mechanics which set it apart from other shooters; the most interesting being the game's trance mode. The ship's trance meter is filled when bullets are grazed by flying the ship very close to bullets without hitting them. Once the trance meter is filled it can be activated (manually or automatically) which greatly increases the ship's firepower and damage. Trance mode lasts for a period of time or until the ship gets hit by a bullet.
The game is absolutely gorgeous. The effects, backgrounds, enemies, ships, explosions, and even the bullets are all rendered in bright colors and sharp graphics. Unfortunately, in spite of the beautifully rendered graphics (or perhaps because of them), Danmaku Unlimited suffers from a lack of variety. The game's bosses all bear a striking resemblance to one another and the only noticeable difference is their bullet patterns. In a genre like 2D shooters, known for its variety and ever more insane boss fights, this sameness dampens the enjoyment of an otherwise superb game.
Danmaku Unlimited is bright, beautiful, and challenging. Shooter fans will have a great time with the game, but they may find themselves missing some of the variety seen in other shooters of this caliber.