Danmaku Unlimited 3 Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer Doragon Entertainment

Publisher Doragon entertainment

Release Date: March 13th, 2018

Price as of Article: $9.99 USD £6,99 UK

Introduction

In the SwitchWatch team, if you watch our videos or read our written reviews then you will know we have Jordan who reviews a lot of shooters on the Switch Platform. I have reviewed my fair share but ask who the bullet hell shooter man is and that’s my bag all day every day. If you have played legendary classics such as Ikaruga, Dodonpachi and Touhou then you know what your going to be in for with the Danmaku series. This game was inspired by those classics and Danmaku Unlimited 3 has come a long way in terms of production value since the first one made back in 2013 by one man. Danmaku 3  has already been on steam and mobile devices and now debut’s on the Switch.

Audio

The musical style of this game really sets it apart from some others I have played in the past. Here we have a rock soundtrack made by the very talented Blankfield from Tokyo and from the outset it gets you hyped. I love the soundtrack in this game, there are some fantastic riffs but some really beautifully played melodic tunes and I really appreciated the music here. Sound effects are fine but they are drowned out a little by the music which I think has been done on purpose. In any case it’s ok with me and certainly don’t see it as a negative. Explosions sound a little more subdued than in other shooters of similar ilk but your weapons sound nice and satisfying.

Visuals and Performance

This is an old-school arcade shooter but visually this game is really crisp. The bullet patterns are really colourful and pop off the Nintendo Switch’s screen and it’s even better in docked mode. The game runs at a beautifully smooth 60 FPS and I noticed no slowdown at all. The ship and your weapons are fantastically over the top with picks being from a wide blue laser or fire laser which is more powerful but has less width. Both seem to almost take up the whole screen but it looks awesome. Enemy ships are quite varied and look ominous. My only gripe is, it would have been nice had there been a little more variety in the level design backgrounds as they are all quite similar. Being able to play this in TATE mode turning the Switch vertically is a great addition. If you really wanted, you could play the game sideways as you are able to turn the screen in the options in any direction you wish although this felt very odd!

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Gameplay

Challenge

If you have never played bullet hell games before then these type of shooters are often very challenging and here it’s no different. Even though the game lasts for no longer than 45 minutes to complete, even easy mode is quite difficult. This game does a good job of making the game accessible for newer players but by the very nature of bullet hell games, they are often very difficult to master and here it’s is no different.

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Modes

Here you have two modes, Spirit mode and Graze mode both contained within the campaign. Spirit mode is aimed at casual players and Graze mode is aimed at the expert player. Spirit mode can be played in either Easy, Normal, Hard or True which is the most difficult whereas Graze mode can only be played in Hard and True. There are differences such as enemy bullet patterns but both modes will give you a stern challenge either way.

Scoring System

The scoring system in Danmaku is simple to understand and it’s one of the things that makes this franchise so good because while it is easy to pick up, accomplishing high scores can be difficult. The spirit graze system is just so addictive. When an enemy fires bullets at you, you can either graze them while the round is live or shoot the enemy craft and the bullet turns into a spirit or in other words harmless blue energy. Fly your ship over them and a little bar on the left will count how many bullets you have flown over, the challenge is to keep the run of picking up these spirit bullets to keep the metre up so you can gain some massive multiplier points for your score.

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The graze system also counts towards this building of your metre and is when your ship grazes live bullets which pass close to your ship without killing you but this is so much more dangerous as one slight wrong move and you could end up dead. With the number of bullets on screen, there is plenty of opportunities but also plenty of ways to get yourself killed. While all this is going on you will be filling up your trance metre on the right, use this at the right time to make your weapons go into a hyper-destructive mode which takes out all enemies quicker. It also serves to get you out of some really tight situations and turns bullets into gold. Collect as many of these as possible for some mega scores. Seeing as there are two ways to charge your trance metre it always gives you an incentive to allow enemy crafts to shoot out bullets before you take them down so you can use the bullets to your advantage. The game is always about balancing, dodging bullets to survive, grazing and turning bullets to spirit bullets for those incredible high scores. In Graze mode spirit bullets are taken out all together for the ultimate challenge.

Bosses

Bosses are really tough once you get to the latter stages and will require you surviving multiple cycles to beat them. Learning the bullet patterns is essential as well as using bombs and trance mode at the right times. They can be really frustrating at first but once you start to memorise the patters the hypnotic dance can be a thing of beauty. To beat the true boss you will need to beat the game on one of the harder difficulties.

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Weapon Configurations

There are some differing weapon configurations which you can choose at the beginning of the game. None of them make the gameplay hugely different but it’s good to have the choice to suit your play style and there are 25 combinations although not all are available from the beginning. When you begin there are two types of laser one with more width but less powerful and one with less width but more powerful. Your secondary weapon focuses the laser beam by pressing A and X together. This makes your ship’s movement slower but allows you to take down some of the bosses down quicker or is useful in situations where you need more power to take down tougher enemies.

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You also have bombs which clear most of the screen of bullets coming towards you and are very useful if you set them to go off when your ship takes a hit as a last form of defence which spares a life. I would make sure you set your trance weapon to go off manually otherwise the default setting is for it to off automatically. You can unlock more configurations by completing the game. Completing the game also unlocks some of the bonus features which allow you to play boss rush free play or boss free play all pretty self-explanatory.

Continues

The more you play the game the more continues will unlock which is useful for completing the game but hardcore players will probably start again. The reason for this is because using a continue resets your score and for those high scores you want to get as far as you can with the lives you are given from the beginning of your run.

Bullet hell Fun

This is a very fun shooter and one I pick up time and time again for a quick go, being able to play on the move in either portrait or vertical mode is a real boon. The game requires you to test the boundaries constantly and to always play on the edge. One wrong move can be the difference between success and failure.

Value

The game is certainly worth your hard earned cash in my opinion. You get 5 levels and sure you could complete this in as little as 45 minutes or so but that’a not what this type of game is all about. I have already put in a substantial amount of time on this game to master the and learn each of the levels and each of the bosses patterns. Each time I want to get better and improve my scores. I often spend many hours on these type of games as for me they are more like an investment. they are games that never get old and I always come back to from time to time. If you are like me in that sense then you will get a lot for of enjoyment for your money here. For $9.99 or £6.99 if you’re a bullet hell fan then this needs to be on your switch.

Pros

P

Endless challenge if your into hard games

P

Great visuals

P

Stunning rock soundtrack

Cons

P

Can still be too difficult for casual players