Developer: CAVE
Price: $8.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPod Touch

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★★
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

I like to think of myself as a well-rounded gamer. But one of the game genres I have never been strong in is the Japanese danmaku, usually translated as “bullet hell.” So, for me – as I suspect it will be for many a more casual iOS gamer – Cave’s recently released Dodonpachi Resurrection may be something of an introduction to the genre.

And oh, what an introduction! Dodonpachi Resurrection is far and away the best top-down shooter I have played on my iPod Touch, and possibly one of the best top-down shooters I have ever played, period. It’s a wild, over-the-top action shooter that will leave you both baffled and exhilarated at the same time.

If you’re new to the genre like I am, the game may take a little getting used to. You begin by selecting a mode – iPhone or Arcade (I recommend iPhone) – then selecting a ship and, if in Arcade mode, selecting a combat style. A few seconds of cutscene later and … bam! The whole screen becomes filled with bullets, missiles, explosions, and enemies. It can be a bit overwhelming to the new player, until you are able to grasp the flow of the game.

Once you get used to it, though, it’s a whole lot of fun. Controls are simple touch; you slide your thumb to move the ship, tap buttons to change weapons, spin a frantic circle to charge up your hyper cannon. There’s a scoring system in place that rewards multiplyers and the collecting of badges released from destroyed enemies – still a bit arcane to me, but important if you’re going to try and improve your score.

It all runs smoothly, embracing its fast pace and letting you slide comfortably into the destruction zone. And the graphics presentation is well executed. Even with the sky full of munitions, you can generally keep track of what’s going on — though sometimes the screen does become little more than a fugue of colors. It’s finely managed chaos, set to a funky sci-fi soundtrack.

Do be advised: the game sports high technical demands, such that any device older than an iPhone 3GS will not run it properly. It also comes in at a relatively short seven levels for its $9 price tag; so if you are the more casual gamer who only expects to play through once, you may find the price a bit steep.

I think that you will want to play it again, though. I know that I am certainly enjoying it enough to keep going back, doing my best to fight my way up the leaderboards (I’m currently 10,775th … sigh … ). If you have the right device, and if you don’t mind the price, then you must play Dodonpachi Resurrection.

As a final note: after playing through it myself, I introduced the game to my six-year old son, who loves to play “shoot-em-up” games. He spent the next twenty minutes giggling over the screen, making shooty noises from the side of his mouth and occasionally noting with glee, “You get to blow everything up!” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

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