High Risk, High Reward
Danmaku Unlimited 3, developed by Doragon Entertainment and being sold at a very reasonable $9.99, recently made its way to the eShop. It supports one player and that one player will be overwhelmed by the intense action that is found in this bullet hell schmup.
Danmaku takes the classic vertical schmup formula and gives it a little polish and adds an interesting mechanic to the mix. You have access to a standard multi-bullet gun which you can select different patterns and then you have access to a more powerful laser for when you want to take out bigger foes and bosses. You can also access different patterns for the laser and unlock more for each type of gun. There isn’t a great deal of variety in the weaponry, but it is surprising how much of a difference getting a good matching primary gun and laser is. Then then you also have access to bombs which will clear away enemy fire.
The mechanic that gives a bit of a twist to Danmaku is one titled “graze.” A storm of bullets will assault from beginning to end and you’ll want to do your best to avoid getting hit. However, with this mechanic it encourages one to let the enemy fire graze the side of the ship. After doing this for a while you’ll enter “trance” mode which is a temporary power up which will make you do more damage and net you a higher score. It really mixes things up and never feels too difficult to not be worth the risk for the sweet reward.
Levels and Enemies
Danmaku doesn’t sport a great amount of levels. Only five in fact, but these five are a decent amount of time, but more importantly pretty darn difficult. The step up in difficulty has a nice learning curve. In fact I haven’t actually been able to beat the final boss yet and there are plenty of difficulties to choose from — I was not playing on the hardest mode. Aesthetically the levels are a little lacking. They aren’t bad, but just feel a little plain. With that being said you won’t exactly get a lot of time to stare at the background.
As for the enemies? Prepare yourself for wave after wave after wave of foes. Cannon fodder to bulkier foes will descend to take you on filling the screen with all kinds of cannon fire. They’ll be forcing you to be on your toes for the entire time you play. On top of this there is a good wealth of enemy types in Danmaku. Attack patterns of enemies will keep you guessing on what is the best way to make it through as at first it looks almost impossible to dodge all the fire approaching you. I should also make note that once you kill an enemy its fire does disappear.
Finally, we have to take a look at the bosses. Only having five, but all of them having multiple phases, these guys will give you trouble. Just like the level leading up to them you’ll question whether or not it is possible to dodge their attacks, but after a while will find the key to avoiding their fire. Design wise they are OK, but a bit lacking — all enemies and bosses seem to have the same palette so whilst gameplay-wise they offer a lot, aesthetically they are just decent.
Visuals, Sound and Performance
In terms of visual design, Danmaku doesn’t stand out that much to me, but in terms of the technical side it’s pretty impressive for a game of its price. Animations all look smooth and pleasing to the eye; Some schmups can suffer framerate issues with so much that happens on screen, but Danmaku never suffers these performance slips. It keeps a steady and perfect framerate throughout at a nice 60FPS.
The soundtrack is great as well. It is an excellent fit to this style of schmup. A heavy rocking soundtrack that keeps up with the pace of the gameplay. I am not familiar with the artist, but it is by BLANKFIELD.
Danmaku Unlimited 3 offers five amazingly crafted levels, but in terms of other modes? It doesn’t offer all that much. There is the beginner friendly “Spirit” mode which just lets you access the “Trance” mode without having to do as much in comparison to the “Graze” mode that requires a bit more work. There aren’t any online leaderboards which I thought was a shame. So take note of this when you make a purchase.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Danmaku Unlimited 3 was provided by Doragon Entertainment.