Game: DonPachi (1995-1996) and it's sequel Dodon Pachi (1997-1998)
Publisher: Cave, Falcom 1995-1998
Platform: Arcade, Saturn and PSX
DonPachi is a vertical shmup - the games have something to do with honey bees as the title literally incorporates Bee in some form. There is a third part out on the Arcade platform and there exists a mobile phone version called DoDonPuchi. The gameplay actually feels quite a bit like that of Raiden - played that in another episode - albeit a lot more bullets are on the screen at the same time. The game is more 'bullet hell' like so many other Japanese shmups out there of that era. The thing with this game is that the 'bullet hell' is not so bad as there are many quiet areas on the screen that allow you to avoid getting hit. Like Raiden it is possible to somewhat survive on reflexes diving the bullets and no so much by memorizing the attack patterns.
In the game you are a wannabe-pilot and you need to survive an 'eight year long training mission'. If you succeed you can join the ranks of the DonPachi elite battle squadron. The game consists of 5 levels and you can fire your weapon two ways: in short bursts and in a longer concentrated and more powerful beam. When you use the latter mode your ship can manvouvre at a much slower speed. So a combination of using both modes of firing is needed. This is the case in both games.
The DoDonpachi is a lot more elaborate with tons of explosions, power ups and even more bullets on screen at the same time. The level of animation achieved in these games is of a similar quality as that found in NeoGeo arcade games. The 2nd game in the series has 7 levels, although the last level can only be reached when the player meets rather strict criteria. Once all areas have been fought a second loop starts with the same enemies but with even more bullets and explosive devices on the screen at the same time. The arcade machine displays these flawless
The Playstation and Saturn versions are spot on and a must have if you love shmups of this era and own either console. The Playstation version even plays on the PSP through a PS3 !!!!