Friday, September 10, 2010

Orthodox space shooting

Why do I love bullet hell shooters? It has nothing to do with their complex scoring systems, their level of customization or their over the top special attacks. No it is all about dodging insane and beautiful bullet patterns. That's what gives the genre it's extreme intensity and makes it so wonderfully satisfying. Add to that some nice techno music and we are in for some fun.

The problem is that in an attempt to improve the bullet hell genre and to cater to a shrinking but increasingly hard core fanbase, developers are adding more and more unnecessary additions to their games. Dodonpachi Resurrection is a good example of this, not only do we have your standard screen clearing bomb, we have a laser canon necessary to counter some enemy fire, we have an extremely powerful hyper canon which functions similarity to the bomb only it lasts a bit longer. Then we have the S/M meter which depending on your play style either increases your multiplier or the spread of your attack. It is easy to see how all this "innovation" can get in the way of what makes Dodonpachi fun, dodging bullets and crazy amounts of them.

Luckily under Arcade mode we have what is called Bomb Style, described as "[a]n orthodox and easy to use play style". Here there is no S/M meter, the powerful hyper cannon is fired automatically when powered up (in exchange for losing the control of the trigger it now powers up much faster), even the traditional bomb is triggered automatically right before you would have been hit by an enemy laser, in essence acting like an extra life. The only thing left up to your control in the laser beam, which I could have done without but since it is the big mechanic setting Dodonpachi apart from its competitor I can live with it.

This way of shaving off all the unnecessary bs leaves the player to fully focus on the bullet patters, nothing else matters. You don't have to keep looking to see if one of the many meters is filled up, you don't even have to keep your bomb finger ready. And that is a God sent since some of those bullet patterns will require 110% of your attention.


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