The best bit about DoDonPachi Resurrection - Cave's iOS port of bullet-hell arcader Dai-Fukkatsu - was, in fact, brand new to the mobile version.
Alongside the traditional arcade campaign, Cave offered up a special iPhone mode (now Smartphone mode, as the game moonlights on Android) - with new rules, new music, and a fresh scoring system.
This mode was about putting yourself in harm's way to rocket your multiplier into the quadruple digits, then letting loose with a hyper cannon to shred enemies into gold stars and millions of points.
It turned DoDonPachi from a straight shooter into a coy game of defending and then attacking. It was a potent source of leaderboard tussles, and to top it all off the hyper cannon had you boring a hole into the touchscreen with your finger. It was fun times.Bite the bullet
DoDonPachi Blissful Death, on the other hand, doesn't offer anything exclusive to iPhone. Other than a few tweaks to make it fit on your smartphone, this is largely a straight-up port of 2002's Dai-Ou-Jou.
If you've never played a Cave game, here's what that entails. You're a spaceship (though, according to the game's fiction, you're actually some kind of prepubescent girl, or something) on a mission to blow up a bunch of other spaceships. For some reason.
That's not important. What counts is that the enemy craft can expel enormous quantities of neon-coloured ordnance, and they fill the screen with oceans of the stuff.
Seeing as touching a bullet will kill you in one hit, DoDonPachi Blissful Death soon becomes a game about dodging and weaving through the mess of pink and blue rockets, while also positioning yourself so your cannons will wreck the enemy's defences.
There are some other bits and bobs to worry about - you can drop bombs as a last ditch effort to clear the screen, you can switch from spread-fire cannons to a pinpointing laser for more power, and you can unlock a hyper attack for major damage. But it's mostly about dodging the eponymous bullet-hell.Bullet points
It's tough going, though Cave has made some concessions to welcome newer players. There are plenty of difficulty modes: Novice and Hell and everything in between. You'll automatically drop a bomb when hit (if you've got one) to save your life, and there's an exhaustive Practice mode.
Then again, you can't continue after you've died like in DoDonPachi Resurrection or DeathSmiles. You'll need to shape up and practise if you want to see the later levels.
There are five stage to play through (although you can unlock some bonus stuff if you're skilful enough), each of which is bustling with cannon fodder enemies, bigger meanies, and imposing bosses.
It doesn't have quite the style of Cave's other games. The music isn't as catchy, the levels are dull and discoloured moons and factories, and the bosses aren't all that memorable. The original game actually precedes DoDonPachi Resurrection's source material by a good six years, and it often feels like a step back.Bullet time
Which brings us back to the fact that Blissful Death doesn't have a clever smartphone gimmick like the previous DoDonPachi port. There is a twist to Blissful Death's scoring system, but it's nowhere near as devilishly clever as Resurrection's defend-and-attack setup.
This time it's all about chaining kills to inflate your combo. Each time an enemy explodes your multiplier rises, but leave it too long and the chain breaks - resetting you back to zero. This means you'll need to carefully plan your movements so that you're safely dodging bullets but also killing enemies in quick succession.
Enemies that don't quickly die will ruin your chain. Instead, zapping a bigger enemy with your laser beam will freeze the multiplier, giving you a chance to keep your chain going. This calls for a judicious juggling of cannons and lasers.
This offers a secondary meta-game about chaining kills, planning routes, swapping guns, and replaying stages. You can chain every enemy in a level together, building up to an astronomical multiplier by the time you down the end-of-level boss.Sweating bullets
It's clever stuff, but it's never as satisfying or moreish as Resurrection's gimmick. Chaining kills in Blissful Death is hard and requires endless practice runs. Working the attack and defend meters in Resurrection is dynamic and intuitive. At the end of the day, it's just a lot more fun.
If you can only afford one bullet-hell shooter, make it 2010's Resurrection. The smartphone mode is more fun, the visual style is more playful, the cheesy J-pop music is more catchy, and the whole product is more accomplished.
Blissful Death is still a white-hot thrill of dodging bullets and wasting enemies in a feisty attempt to rule the leaderboards. But it's just not as essential as Cave's other DoDonPachi.
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