A screen full of bullets has never felt so welcoming.
Some games just can’t be explained without making a comparison to another title. Being derivative does not necessarily hurt a game, especially when it is an innovation on a well-loved classic title. Danmaku Unlimited 3 is not shy in its nods to the Sega Dreamcast’s Ikaruga (which also came to GameCube). While Danmaku Unlimited 3 fails to match the polished presentation of its inspiration, it still manages to bring some new ideas to the bullet hell shooter genre.
Danmaku Unlimited 3 is a vertically scrolling shoot-’em-up previously released on Steam and mobile platforms last March. While bullet hell shooters are typically known for their high difficulty, Danmaku Unlimited 3 looks to provide a better experience for newcomers to the genre by offering two main gameplay modes.
Spirit Mode, the suggested gameplay mode for new players, includes foru difficulty levels to choose from to give players of various experience a difficulty level that feels comfortable. Easy isn’t a cakewalk and still presents a challenge for newcomers. , Players are rewarded for trying again by unlocking more continues as progress is made. Bonus objectives also increase the appeal of working through the difficulty to improve.
The mechanics of Spirit mode also provide a more forgiving experience. When your ship is hit in its core,, it will explode. However, if the player has any bombs, a bomb automatically goes off, saving the ship and damaging the enemies on the screen. While it is important to protect your ship’s core, players are rewarded for bullets grazing the outer part of the ship. As the player grazes bullets or touches the bullets of enemy ships that have been destroyed, a trance meter fills up on the right side. Once full, trance mode is activated and destroyed ships drop large amounts of gold gems, doling out large boosts to the player’s score.
Opposite of Spirit Mode’s more forgiving gameplay is Graze mode. Graze mode functions similarly except once the player has filled the trance gauge by grazing bullets, the meter must be continually filled through grazing only bullets of destroyed enemy ships to unlock trance mode. To increase this mode’s difficulty further, when the player’s ship’s core is saved by a bomb all bombs in the ship’s inventory are depleted. Instead of four difficulty levels, Graze mode only offers a Hard and True difficulty level.
Where Danmaku Unlimited 3 falls below expectations set by previous titles is in visual presentation. The background typically consists of a giant patch of fog with various, barely visible generic space elements cycling behind. While this may seem as an unnecessary criticism for a game where taking time to notice the background will end immediately in death, the game’s visuals seem quite bland in the rare times there is little action occurring. The models of the enemy ships also lack variety, causing the game to feel static from level to level.
While Danmaku Unlimited 3 is not the most polished game of its kind, it is a very satisfying experience. The unique mechanics and multiple difficulty options combined with compelling reasons to keep playing and improving make for a game with a wider appeal than most other titles in the bullet hell genre. Danmaku Unlimited 3 successfully creates the tense feeling of a screen filled with bullets, without excessively punishing failure.