Do-Don-Pachi Dai-Fukkatsu is one of the most requested shmups to be brought to the West. Originally hitting arcades in 2008 and Japanese 360s in 2010, since then fans have been clamouring for the bullet hell shooter to receive a translation and PAL release. Well guess what? It’s coming in November in the form of DoDonPachi Resurrection and Midlife Gamer spoke with Yen Hau – Product Manager of Rising Star Games – for the exclusive first interview with the publisher bringing this title to home consoles.
Xero: Can you tell readers who might not have heard of the title – and indeed the series as a whole – a little more about DoDonPachi Resurrection?
Yen Hau: DoDonPachi Resurrection is CAVE’s 2008 smash hit arcade shooter, and sequel to the legendary DoDonPachi Daioujou (Blissful Death), known as one of the hardest games to ever hit arcades.
Resurrection has earned high marks from players for adeptly building upon the basic scoring systems of its predecessors, while combining ever-escalating bullet swarms with brand new features that help players navigate the waves of enemies and bullets, such as hyper counters that cancel enemy attacks and counter lasers, for shielding your craft from encroaching enemy lasers. Resurrection also includes an Auto-bomb system, in which the player’s craft will release a screen-clearing bomb when hit (a certain number of times) to let new players proceed further in the game without getting discouraged. The flip-side is that auto-bombing your way to the clear will only earn you a very meagre score.
It is the score system that gives DoDonPachi Resurrection its unique appeal. Like its earlier and simpler prequels, DoDonPachi and DoDonPachi Daioujou, players are rewarded for destroying enemies quickly in long combos. Combos are easily built by killing enemies one after the other, but in Resurrection the stakes are raised with the addition of the hyper counter system which allows players to cancel incoming bullets; these cancelled bullets are in turn added to the combo meter, building huge hit chains. The higher the combo, the higher the multiplier, and the higher the multiplier, the bigger the point bonuses for the player.
Getting huge scores will also require great control. After all, if you could just erase every bullet on screen and auto-bomb your way to victory, there wouldn’t be much competition for score. But in Resurrection, the score multiplier only takes effect when the player has a full hyper stock, which ensures that players will at some point have to hold off on firing hypers to reap the score bonuses they’ve worked for. For a practiced player, visually this means that the first half of any level looks like a madhouse of bullet cancelling while the second half is much more stoic: the player strives to maintain their combo chain as they destroy enemy after enemy in quick chains.
Story-wise, DoDonPachi Resurrection takes place after the events of DoDonPachi Daioujou. In that game, the armies of the mad colonel, who had orchestrated a war against his own allies to test and strengthen his elite DoDonPachi Squadron, were awakened after being sealed away on the moon. It was only the sheer grit of an Element Doll (an artificial human capable of down-linking into advanced fighter craft) named EXY who managed to destroy the mother computer of these armies. But the truth that she saw within that computer, that these murderous wars were plotted by one man, set her against the colonel. In DoDonPachi Resurrection, EXY time-slips into the past to destroy a key installation which will build the colonel’s army in the future. Her army of Element Daughters, modified versions of the Element Dolls, await the pursuing DoDonPachi Squadron as they attempt to destroy EXY and return successfully to the future.
X: When is the game out and what will be included within the UK release? Any intentions of including the Twister-style paper craft Art Game?
YH: We are targeting a November launch window across PAL territories. The pack will follow the trend set by our earlier release of Deathsmiles and be known as DoDonPachi Resurrection Deluxe. This will include the original Version 1.5 release, both Arrange modes and the official soundtrack. The Black Label and Version 1.51 Arrange modes will be available separately as DLC via Xbox LIVE. The art game is not available.
X: This is the first time a Don-Pachi game has come to the UK as a home release, why do you feel that now is the time to bring the fifth title to this market?
YH: This is the first game from the series to be released on current generation consoles and, having set the groundwork with Deathsmiles, now is the perfect opportunity to continue the revival of shooters by publishing DoDonPachi Resurrection, particularly as the shmup community has called for this game to be released. Having established our presence with Deathsmiles, the next logical step is to listen to our fans and give them what they want.
X: Many shmup fans cite the Don-Pachi games as some of the most difficult within the genre, do you feel this accolade is fair? Do you believe this to be the title’s sole appeal?
YH: I don’t think there is anything wrong with a game being difficult, it certainly adds more challenge to get the top scores and will keep players coming back. I also think that the difficulty goes hand in hand with the complex scoring mechanics, so while it is not the game’s sole appeal, I think it does form part of the overall appeal. CAVE have worked on the scoring system for years, upgrading and amending with every new iteration and resulting in what we see now with DoDonPachi Resurrection. The appeal is in completing the game by using only one credit and attempting to get a higher score than other players.
X: Will there be an online component to DoDonPachi Resurrection, such as leader boards or community driven events?
YH: There will definitely be online leaderboards for Europe.
X: Rising Star Games brought Deathsmiles to these shores in February, what do you believe to be the key differences between this and DoDonPachi Resurrection, besides the direction in which the screen scrolls?
YH: DoDonPachi is CAVE’s flagship series and with Resurrection they have one of the most challenging shooters available. There are many obvious similarities between this and Deathsmiles, but with DoDonPachi it is more challenging to get those score multipliers going and a lot more difficult to avoid those bullets. Where Deathsmiles is a good solid introduction to bullet hell shooters, DoDonPachi is the daddy who shows you how it is done.
X: Deathsmiles was rather successful when it was released and you’ve clearly a lot of confidence in the performance of CAVE shooters in Europe, how closely do you work with the developer when bringing titles West and is this a new direction for RSG’s portfolio of titles looking forwards?
YH: I have a constant dialogue with CAVE with all things related to their game, so we work together very closely. Rising Star Games may be publishing and promoting DoDonPachi, but it is CAVE’s baby and we would be foolish not to have this open communication between us when formulating our marketing plans. It is a great partnership and I personally hope it is one that we continue with beyond DoDonPachi. As for a new direction for RSG, we have always stated that we aim to publish the best games from Japan, but more importantly games that people want to play. This applies to any game irrespective of who made it or its history. If it is good and people want to play it then we will do our best to make it happen.
YH: I would love to work on Akai Katana, but that is as much as I can say on future CAVE products at this moment. Personally I would love to work on a brand new R-Type, an HD version designed for the current console generation. It was a blast publishing R-Type Tactics for the PSP a couple of years ago and I hope Irem come up with a version with all the bells and whistles attached.
Please note, the video presented is for the purpose of giving our readership a better impression of the title’s action and taken from footage of the Japanese version, which may not necessarily reflect the final PAL product. DoDonPachi Resurrection is currently scheduled for a November 2011 release, for more information visit Rising Star Games’ website