Danmaku Unlimited 3 (DU3) by Doragon Entertainment is a bulletstorm game where you are working the edges of sprite madness and collision boxes to try to get to the final boss of the game. Similar to other games of the genre like the truly classic Raiden Trad provide a pretty simple premise. You are an elite soldier that is piloting an advanced fighter to try to save the world from a bombardment of bad guys that come in hordes and waves to try to take over the planet. That is about the extent of the story when it comes to these bulletstorm shooters. This simplicity is what makes these games so easy to get into and just go guns a blazing.
DU3 does things a little different with the game. In traditional bulletstorm vertical shooters you have to collect powerups as you go through levels and make sure you pick the right version of the upgrade as it floats around the field. DU3 starts you off with fully powered weapons and they can switch between two styles. The first style is a weaker version that sweeps a wider swath in the battle field, but a critical feature of using the weaker weapon is that your ship moves faster and has better agility to dodge the bullets that are flying towards you. The second style comes when you hold down the “X” button, this converts your weapon into a beam that is very strong and is more pinpoint compared to the weaker weapon. The caveat that comes with using the stronger beam is that your fighter becomes less agile and and sluggish.
DU3 also comes with two modes which can help match your skills and playstyle. Spirit Mode is great for beginners because when you destroy an enemy their bullets become “spirits”. You can then maneuver over the spirits to charge your “Graze” bar. Once the Graze bar is fully charged, every enemy that you kill becomes gems which helps with your overall score. The second mode is Graze Mode and in this mode when you defeat the enemy craft the bullets still stay “live” and can kill you, but the game credits you for playing gutsy and flying as close as possible to the bullets or grazing them to charge up your Graze bar. The Graze bar then works the same as it did in spirit mode and turns all killed enemies into gems which help boost your overall score.
DU3 includes the bevy of traditional tools which every player is used to in bulletstorm games and these included a set number of lives, a handful of continues and bombs that would clear the vicinity of bullets that would’ve killed you if you didn’t use the bomb.
DU3 really brought me to the edge of my seat and had me relearn the skillset needed to get through a level alive. I really enjoyed the dynamics of having the Spirit and Graze Mode in the game. The Spirit Mode really allowed me to get back in the groove of playing a bulletstorm again, because the last time I played one was when the Raiden series came out on the Xbox 360. While Spirit mode turned the bullets into spirits which you could graze, the bosses were not any easier, and I found that I was struggling with them just as much as I was in Graze Mode. The twitch behavior and focus on my ship and the bullets coming at it really drew me into the bullet frenzy and trying to squeeze through the tiniest gaps knowing where the limits of my hitbox were.
I enjoyed how you started with only two types of main weapons and two types of beams to choose from, and had to accomplish some feats in order to open up the other weapon options in the game. This definitely adds a replay value to the game, but truthfully a bulletstorm has replay value just from the adrenaline it keeps my body pumping as i’m shifting, twisting and moving my body thinking it will move the plane faster to dodge a group of bullets I have no chance on Earth of avoiding.
One of the unfortunate things about the game is that it takes on the traditional design of bulletstorms and has a very long vertical level to maneuver around. I feel there is opportunity to change this traditional modus operandi that these games have set. By maintaining this trend, the game sits in the middle of the screen and you lose two thirds of the screen to either mirrored space or a wallpaper. It just seems such a waste of real estate, but other games like Sine Mora EX tried to address this by making the game revolve around an axis but it just didn’t have the same feel and effect and I know there would be a challenge to get all over the screen to destroy all the enemies if they were so spread out. Another small issue with bulletstorm games, and definitely with DU3 is that the enemies and bosses seemed very repetitive and there wasn’t variation in the designs and skins except for the bullet patterns. When you look at DU3 and a game like Raiden Trad, where you fight multistage bosses that lose components as you move it to the next level, the bosses in DU3 seem lackluster because they don’t change or transform. They just drop gems as you move from one stage to the next and stay exactly the same which seems like a bit of laziness by the development team to not add some creativity to the graphics. Along the same lines, the advanced ship you fly is constantly wrapped in an aura or glow which possibly was a way to avoid having to go into too much detail on the graphics there as well.
A lot more could be done with the graphics and some creativity could have been put into the bosses to make them interesting as you go from stage to stage. However, DU3 really captures that bulletstorm gameplay that I have been missing for a while. The dynamic that is created with the weapon you are using and the agility of your ship really plays a role in boss battles. You have to know when you need quick maneuverability versus when you need power to get the boss down fast. This strategy adds a unique dimension to the bulletstorm that led me to dying a lot as I tried to go for glory by using the strong weapon all the time.
Redonkulous Gaming gives DU3 a 7.5 out of 10 as this is a game that has replayability to get the adrenaline going, but the graphics leave one wanting a bit more.