The DonPachi series (also known as the DoDonPachi series, after the second game) is a series of Shoot Em Ups by Cave. It is by far one of Cave's most iconic game franchises, with DoDonPachibeing oneof the earliestBullet Hell titles.At first glance, it appears to be yet another game about flying a ship and blasting alien/robotic invaders, but many dark secrets lie beneath the surface. Art design for the first three games is done by "Joker" Junya Inoue.The series spans seven games:
DonPachi (Arcade / Saturn / PlayStation, 1995)
DoDonPachi (Arcade / Saturn / PlayStation, 1997)
DoDonPachi: DaiOuJou [DEATH Label] (Arcade / PlayStation 2 / Xbox 360, 2002)
DoDonPachi: DaiOuJou Black Label EXTRA (Xbox 360, 2009)
DoDonPachi Blissful Death (iOS, 2012)
DoDonPachi: DaiFukkatsu (Arcade, 2008; JP Xbox 360, 2010; iOS and Android (as DoDonPachi Resurrection), 2010; EU Xbox 360, 2011 (as DoDonPachi Resurrection))
DoDonPachi: DaiFukkatsu BLACK Label (Arcade, 2010; Xbox 360 port released on February 3,2011 [Two versions: As add-on in form of DLC, or as stand-alone game with an exclusive Arrange Mode, which basically is a crossover of Daifukkatsu and Ketsui])
DoDonPachi Maximum (Windows Phone 7, 2012)
DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou (Arcade, Spring 2012)
DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou Kan (XBOX 360, Spring 2013)
There was also a game named DoDonPachi II: Bee Storm released for the Arcade in 2001. It was developed by the Taiwanese company IGS, designed to show off the capabilities of the PolyGame Master arcade hardware (which DaiOuJou and Ketsui would later be developed for).DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou Kan is officially the last game in the series.Not to be confused with that spiky orange guy from Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot — Hard to tell without a human translation, but Perfect☆ developed her speech patterns and behavior entirely on her own. The Element Daughters based on the original three Element Dolls are also this.
Arc Words — "Shinu ga yoi"note "Dying is good." Or in Woolseyism, "Go on and die." in DaiOuJou.
Art Shift — The art direction for the first three games was done by "Joker" Junya Inoue, the art for Dai Fukkatsu was done by Kouji Ogata, and the art for SaiDaiOuJou was done by Nagi Ryou
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever — AI from DaiFukkatsu is sometimes portrayed this way in official artwork, stomping around Tokyo, being (futilely) attacked by the DonPachi ships, and crushing one in her hand.
A Winner Is You — The reward for completing the Nintendo Hard 2nd loop of DoDonPachi (Which can only be accessed by 1-crediting the first loop, and either collecting all bee icons, using no bomb or losing no lifes) is... a crappy picture of the pilot.
Awesome, but Impractical — Expert shots in Saidaioujou grants you both a boosted shoot and a boosted laser, but you get a woefully small bomb stock and the game jacks up the difficulty to the equivalent of 2nd loop in other games in the series. DO NOT use Expert shot unless you are able to cope with such intense enemy patterns.
Battleship Raid — "Wow! Look at the size of that battleship! Keep your finger on the trigger rookie!" And they only get more powerful from there.
Beam-O-War — The counter-laser mechanic that was introduced in DaiFukkatsu and has been present in every DoDonPachi release since. You can block enemy lasers with your own laser.
Beehive Barrier — Kouryuu, the larger, easier version of Hibachi, uses these in SaiDaiOuJou
Big Bad: Colonel Longhena, who doesn't appear until DoDonPachi.
Bittersweet Ending — In the 2nd-loop ending of DoDonPachi, it's revealed that in slaughtering his own allies and the Commander's special forces, the player character ironically solved the problems of overpopulation, environmental pollution, and arms races. As to whether this was what the commander wanted, not even the protagonist knows.
Bonus Boss — DaiFukkatsu has the original bosses of DoDonPachi. In every stage, fulfilling a particular requirement allows you to fight one of these bosses.
Boss Game — DaiOuJou DEATH Label, which comes with the PS2 port of DaiOuJou.
Boss Warning Siren: "WARNING: THIS IS NOT SIMILATION. GET READY TO DESTOROY THE ENEMY. TARGET FOR THE WEAK POINTS OF F**KIN' MACHINE. DO YOUR BEST YOU HAVE EVER DONE". And in the sequels: "You are approaching the target of attack. The mission starts now!", "Watch out! Watch out!", and "An unidentified battleship/unprecedented tremendous force is approaching!"
Sai Dai Ou Jou brings us Inbachi, particularly her final pattern as it's a combination of Hibachi's final patterns from both DoDonPachi and Dai Ou Jou's "Washing Machine", doubles the latter in different directions. This puts her earlier patterns to shame.
Cap — DaiFukkatsu has a score cap that could be easily reached by more skilled players. Version 1.5 of DaiFukkatsu corrects this by adding more digits.
Chinese Girl — Leinyan from DaiOuJou and her giant form in DaiFukkatsu, Ray'n
Chromatic Arrangement — The three main types of ships are Red (straight-forward shot), Green (turning shot), and Blue (wide shot). This extends to the playable characters of SaiDaiOuJou as well.
Combos — The essence of the series' scoring systems.
Continuity Nod — DaiFukkatsu is the only direct sequel in the series; the backstory consists of the code of the Elemental Dolls (the protagonists of DaiOuJou) performing a Face-Heel Turn and going back in time to 2008. Colonel Schwarlitz Longhena, who first appeared in DoDonPachi, turns out to be responsible for the events of the whole series.
Creepy Doll — The Element Dolls themselves are life-sized versions of these. One piece of artwork also shows Shotia laying in a pile of them.
Crossover — DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu BLACK Label Arrange incorporates many elements from another Cave shooter, Ketsui, complete with the cover art being a big throwback to that game. It even has the True Final Boss of Ketsui, Evaccania DOOM. It can be seen in this trailer.
Cut Song — "Zatsuza" from the DaiFukkatsu BLACK Label soundtrack was initially thought to be this, but it was revealed that the song plays during the fight against Zatsuza, the stronger replacement of Hibachi.
Deconstruction — The storyline of the series, at the very least, is a deconstruction of many typical scrolling shoot-em-up plots. DaiFukkatsu could also be this for the whole concept of a FanserviceRobot Girl.
Degraded Boss — Hibachi appears in DoDonPachi II as the first enemy you encounter in the game, but it's only his first form and he goes down very quickly. He regains his True Final Boss status in DaiOuJou.
Development Hell — There is a patch for the Xbox 360 version of DaiOuJou that fixes the numerous bugs in the game (see Porting Disaster). It took about two years since the game was released to make; by the time it was out the sequel DaiFukkatsu was already ported.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything — The A and B parts of the songs in DaiFukkatsu (such as "Flotage (Stage 3-A)" and "Flotage (Stage 3-B)" which play on the normal path and hidden path, respectively) are really two parts of the same whole. If you combine the two songs and play them at the same time, you get the main riff for Zatsuza's theme, in perfect tempo. For Flotage, for example, this is surprisingly during the guitar solo.
Difficult but Awesome — While the whole game can be counted as one by Bullet Hell standards, Exy in DaiOuJou has the lowest bomb count of the three Dolls, but gets both Shotia's regular shot and Leinyan's laser shot, and only loses one power level of each upon death instead of one of one shot type and all of the other.
In Daifukkatsu, Power Style also qualifies. You can't bomb (except you do get one auto-bomb upon picking up a bomb item) and the shot is still slightly weaker than Strong Style even in Boost Mode, but Power Style also builds up Hypers the fastest and any bullets cancelled by your Hyper while in Boost Mode also charge up your next Hyper. Play your cards right and you can have a Hyper ready basically anytime you want.
DaiFukkatsu BLACK Label features a variant of this: Bomb Style is the "normal" mode of the game, granting you a standard bomb stock and standard firepower. Power Style is the "hard" mode, granting you a very limited bomb stock in exchange for two different firepower modes, and forcing you onto the hidden paths and bosses of Stages 2 through 5. Finally, Strong Style is the Harder Than Hard mode; it's Bomb Style with more firepower, but it features devilish base difficulty, is the only way to unlock the True Final Boss, and gives you a Content Warning informing you that the mode is for advanced players only. (It's not kidding.)
The pattern continues in Saidaioujou, where Shot mode is designed for survivability, Laser mode is designed for a more challenging experience, and Expert mode combines the advantages of Shot and Laser mode but also brings up the difficulty to "play at your own risk" levels.
Downer Ending — At the end of the first loop in DonPachi, the horrible truth is revealed to the player that the pilot has been fighting comrades the whole time (and apparently knew it). At the end of the game, take a moment of silence for the thousands of your fellow soldiers you've killed. The sequel is perhaps even more chilling because you are tricked by your commander, Colonel Longhena, into believing that the invading enemy force are mechanized aliens, and you don't know that they're really your comrades until your commander reveals this upon you unlocking the second loop. In the endings for Dai Ou Jou, Shotia's memory is deleted bit by bit until the last memories in her are of her human days and she smiles fondly of them as they go too, and Exy goes crazy and chokes her operator to death while crying blood, then goes and does things leading to Dai Fukkatsu. And, part of the true ending of Dai Fukkatsu is that your mothership is destroyed by Colonel Longhena. Another sort of ending like this is Dai Fukkatsu and it's Arrange Mode A ending, Leinyan (The human defending one, not her human killing Ray'n version) finds Next EXY's Data and tries to tell her she is going about changing the future all wrong, and wonders if Next EXY didn't start all this in the first place, who did? Cut to GENERAL Longhena.
Subverted with Leinyan's ending in Dai Ou Jou, she is cruelly pulled away from her human pilot who she has fallen in love with and deactivated, being send off for research, later she escapes with the help of cyberspace and reunites with her pilot
Dynamic Difficulty — The BLACK Label version of DaiFukkatsu. When an on-screen bar (called the "reddo" (烈怒) gauge) fills up to a certain level, the number of bullets fired by enemies will increase. Watch the above BLACK Label Hibachi to really see exactly how completely insane this can get.
And not raising the gauge will nerf your combos and points, making the difference between survival and scoring very clear.
SaiDaiOuJou has a visible numeric rank meter at the top-center of the screen.
Dubstep: SaiDaiOuJous boss theme, "Taiji", is infamous for a twelve-second dubstep segment.
Every 10,000 Points — DonPachi has a single extend at 2 million points; the other games will give out extra lives at two different score boundaries displayed on the title screen, which can be adjusted.
Reinforced by Hibachi's theme song from DaiOuJou, in which the background guitar sounds like a swarm of bees buzzing.
Expy — AI from DaiFukkatsu is about one dye job and outfit change from being Hatsune Miku.
Failure Is the Only Option — Zatsuza. That video showcases the Final Bosses in order beaten, as a comparison: Hibachi, Hibachi True, and Zatsuza, along with Normal Mode Zatsuza at the end for comparison. If you make it to Zatsuza, be prepared to spend everything. No, you will not be able to dodge all of the bullets.
Sai Dai Ou Jou takes it Up to Eleven with Inbachi. Sure the bullets aren't as dense as Zatsuza's, but they're faster, cleverly formed, and your hyper shots do not cancel bullets.
Fan Disservice — The cover of DaiOuJou Black Label EXTRA, as seen on this page. Four robot girls, all heavily damaged, and the sole survivor is bleeding from one damaged eye.
Game Mod — DoDonPachi Arrange, an unofficial arrange mode in which bombs retain combo rather than break it and cause the player's score to continously increase at a rate proportional to their current combo.note For those who keep up with video game scoring mechanics, it's heavily inspired by Battle Bakraid. Also, the boss music is replaced with an unused spy-esque track.
Genre Popularizer — While certainly not the first Bullet Hell game (Batsugun, another such game, was released 2 years before DonPachi), DoDonPachi certainly did popularize the concept.
Go Mad from the Revelation — After the end of DaiOuJou, Exy dived into the enemy information system and was able to shut it down, but went rather insane.
Gratuitous English — In DonPachi, despite the announcer's Surprisingly Good English (see below), much English text in the game was clearly inserted by someone who didn't really understand certain... vagaries (like the curious hyphenation found a couple of times in the ending). Perhaps someone should cross-check the credits with that of Zero Wing....
Copyright statement: Warning: This game is for use in <country> only. Sales, export, or operation outside this country may be construed as copyright and trademark infringement and is strictly prohibited. Violator and subject to severe penalties and will be prosecutedt to the full extent of the jam
Boss alert: This is not similation. Get ready to destoroy the enemy. Target for the weak points of fuckin' machine. Do your best you have ever done.
The announcers of DoDonPachi and DaiOuJou also speak in English, in DaiFukkatsu, the announcer speaks in Japanese.
In the trailer for DaiFukkatsu BLACK Label's Arrange mode: "JUST A COUPLE MORE SHOTS desu"
In SaiDaiOuJou: "Hyper System: Standby!" and "Hyper System: Ready!"
Harder Than Hard — Strong Style in DaiFukkatsu BLACK Label. It grants your ship immense firepower...at the cost of making the enemies ALSO powerful.
DANGER: This style is customized for advanced players. Proceed only if you have prepared yourself.
Hitbox Dissonance — The games have relatively small hitboxes compared to the ship sizes. There's an odd example with the Type-B helicopter; in Donpachi the hitboxes are on the large side and Type-B's extends pretty from the main rotor to a ways down the tail). In Dodonpachi, the hitbox is noticeably smaller and is actually moved back a bit so that it's located behind the main rotor in the thin segment of the tail fuselage between the main rotor and the tailfin (much like how the later Ketsui's hitboxes are not centered on the main rotor but placed behind them).
Humans AreUngratefulBastards: Put this in perspective: all of the pilots are not human, forced to work for a shady organization, and ordered to initiate a genocide as a training exercise that makes up an entire arc in DonPachi.
Last of His Kind — According to CAVE in a 2010 interview, only one copy of DoDonPachi Campaign Version (also known as the Blue ROM or Blue Label from the color of its title screen) exists, and they had lost all copies of the source code. This would mean if the board dies, it will beLost Forever. However, CAVE also had two copies of the game on display at the 2006 CAVE Matsuri; this likely means the source code and remaining PCBs are simply a closely-guarded secret.
Leitmotif — Since DaiOuJou, Hibachi's had an extremely fast-paced drum 'n bass boss theme.
"Longhena Cantata" is Colonel Longhena's theme, played during the boss battle with him.
Lighter and Softer — Maximum. No deconstructive plots, no traumatizing endings, the plot consists entirely of you visiting EVAC Industry and being invited to try out a Bullet Hell simulator.
Logical Extreme — Of the Bullet Hell genre itself, which it created. For comparison, let's have Touhou: in that series, you normally have to go through the game once to get to the ending, and then go through Extra Mode (and you can't continue on Extra Mode). DonPachi takes that, and decides you have to go through the game twice, with the second as Extra Mode, while normally beating every boss in the game on one life, and then beating the True Final Boss (which would be best described as Extra++ Mode). There are fans who are dedicated enough to do exactly that.
Man Behind the Man — (In DaiFukkatsu,the entirety of the plot is revealed: exploiting their desire for revenge, Colonel Longhena manipulated the Element Dolls/Daughters into exterminating the human race, convinced of its intrinsic imperfection and aiming towards rebuilding it according to his idea of flawlessness (an attempt already foiled centuries before by the first DonPachi Squadron). Said ambitions come to an abrupt halt with the destruction of the ultimate fighting machine Hibachi.)
Meaningful Name — Shotia from DaiOuJou is the shot type. Leinyan, whose name can also be pronounced Ray-nyan, is the beam (or "ray") type, and her Dai Fukkatsu form is named Ray 'n. Exy is good at both shots and lasers but has fewer bombs compared to the others, making her suited for expert players.
Meganekko — Perfect☆ from DaiFukkatsu, although her glasses are difficult to notice during gameplay.
Meido — Perfect☆ from DaiFukkatsu, complete with a serving tray.
Mood Whiplash — Originally, DoDonPachi's style is not far removed from cliched old-school shoot-em-ups, and only its endings suggest any darker turn. DaiOuJou suddenly takes a Darker and Edgier turn with endings that include and are not limited to: the Element Dolls choking their masters to death while crying blood. Then DaiFukkatsu comes around, and it is extremely humorous / fanservicey due to the transforming robot girls, complete with white pantsu. Then it goes right back to Dark and Edgy with its ending, showing that the entire battle was pretty much a waste, the player's victory only having set the events of DaiOuJou up in a Stable Time Loop.
Multiple Endings — Each game typically has at least three : one for completing the first loop without fulfilling the requirements for the second, one for completing both loops but not unlocking the True Final Boss, and one for completing said TFB.
No Export for You — The first game has a proper US release, and the second has an "International" release. And that's only for arcades; none of the console releases have made their way outside of Japan.
Rising Star is set to finally end this trend with a European release of DaiFukkatsu (under the English title used for the iPhone game) in November 2011. However, North America shows no sign of getting it.
Rising Star has announced that the European release will be compatible with US-NTSC consoles. So North America does get it... if they're willing to import. However, an EU Xbox Live account is needed for the V1.5 and Black Label DLC's. And the Black Label Arrange mode (aka "Ketsuipachi") is not available outside of Japan.
The iOS ports are downloadable in America, however.
Level 5 of DaiOuJou looks like a Darker and Edgier version of level 1 from DoDonPachi and the bosses of levels 3, 4, and 5 appear.
In DaiFukkatsu, bosses from both DoDonPachi and DaiOuJou can appear as midbosses, depending on how well the player is doing. If they do, a slightly different version of the BGM that includes a lietmotif from a song from DaiOuJou is played instead of the regular version.
Maximum is a Nostalgia Game, consisting of stages from past DoDonPachi games as well asKetsui.
Obvious Rule Patch — In DaiFukkatsu version 1.0, there was a safe spot in one of Hibachi's patterns. Version 1.5 fixed this.
1-Up — In addition to the point-based extends, they appear in item form in stage 3 of DoDonPachi, stage 4 of DaiOuJou, and stage 3 in DaiFukkatsu by destroying a relatively large enemy in the center of the screen without using bombs.
Secret Character: A first for the series. Clearing the hidden 2nd loop of DoDonPachi Resurrection (the Daifukkatsu port to iOS) unlocks...Hibachi! While only playable in iPhone Mode, Hibachi is easily the most powerful of the 4 ships. On top of having the strongest lasers, it can even shoot 360 degrees of pixel death like its boss incarnation.
You also get the ability to play as Saya after buying her in the story in Sai Dai Ou Jou
SaiDaiOuJou pushes the series' difficulty ceiling.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: DaiFukkatsu, particularly version 1.5. Strong Style is particularly overpowered, and the game has mandatory autobomb, effectively giving you 15 starting lives.
Sequel Escalation — Each successive game one-ups its predecessor in many different aspects: overall bullet density, your ship's firepower, scoring, combos, and the difficulty of the bosses, especially the True Final Bosses. This has gotten to the point where pro players sometimes actually enable autobomb on SaiDaiOuJou, and did not try to do scoring runs on the hardest difficulty right away.
Serial Escalation — To anyone who thought Hibachi's DaiFukkatsu incarnation couldn't be any harder, meet the BLACK Labelone. Cave also added a more powerful variation called Zatsuza, which replaces Hibachi if the player manages to defeat Golden Disaster with no deaths and using Strong style.
You know DaiOuJou DEATH Label down below? If you beat it once, you get the chance to do it again, but with only one life, all the bosses immune to bombs ... and your laser bomb actually healing the boss ! At the end of the video, you see what is called the "True Hibachi -Custom-." In the first run, you fight two Hibachis; however, they're toned down individually compared to the original. In the second loop, they are both at full power.
Sexbot — Hard to tell without a human translation, but some of the Element Dolls/Daughters were originally designed to serve humans and help them feel more comfortable. Some of them also have features, such as white pantsu, that purely-military robots are... let us say... unlikely to need.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog — In DaiFukkatsu, Next EXY, following the events of dai ou jou, goes back in time to destroy DonPachi Corps and prevent the Blissful Death Wars from happening. In doing so, however, she ends up causing them. You cleaning up after her mess merely leads to the events of dai ou jou.
Shout-Out — The scoreboard of DonPachi spell out "Toaplan 4 Ever" if you read the first letter of each default scorer. Toaplan was a big developer of shmups and Cave is formed in majority by formers employee of Toaplan.
From the same game, after beating the 2nd loop, a small cutscene show Pipiru (Toaplan's mascot, mostly know for it's appearance in the ending of the arcade Zero Wing.) holding on one of the ships before dropping into the water.
The Japanese names of DaiOuJou's music tracks are puns on various shmup developers: "Toua" (Toaplan), "Sakusetsu" (Success), "Raijin" (Raizing), and so on.
Smart Bomb — Notable for being usable in two different ways: turning all bullets into score items, or powering a very big laser.
However, it will reset your combo meter, except in rare circumstances:
DaiFukkatsu Arrange A: Does nothing to combo.
DaiFukkatsu Arrange B: There's no combo meter. If anything, the game encourages bombing for score, with the bombs you can get as often as every 5-10 seconds.
DaiFukkatsu ver. 1.51: Not only does nothing to combo, it can also hit lasers for large sums of points depending on your current combo.
SaiDaiOuJou: If you have autocbomb enabled, autobombing will erase your entire bomb stock, on top of nuking your combo. However, if you bomb manually, you'll only lose 30% of your combo.
In DaiFukkatsu BLACK LABEL, if you disable autobomb, your bombs will double as extra Hyper stocks. Using a Hyper from your stock will cancel bullets, but won't reset combo.
Spell My Name with an S: Even official materials have been inconsistent across installments with respect to hyphenations in the romaji titles: "DonPachi", "DoDonPachi", "DoDonPachi Dai-Ou-Jou", "Do-Don-Pachi Dai-Fukkatsu", and "DoDonPachi Saidaioujou". As a result, fans writing about the games tend to be even more inconsistent.
Spiritual Successor — The Xbox 360 version of DaiFukkatsu BLACK Label is a massive tribute to Ketsui. This includes and is not limited to: the cover art, the ships being replaced with those of Ketsui (such as the Tiger Schwert), and the replacement of Hibachi with DOOM (complete with DOOM's theme song).
Stripperiffic — Exy and Next EXY, apparently to make humans feel more comfortable.
Super Mode — Hyper Mode, introduced in DaiOuJou, which gives you increased firepower and causes your combo to shoot through the roof, but the Dynamic Difficulty will also go apeshit as a tradeoff. DaiFukkatsu's Hyper Mode allows you to cancel bullets.
In DaiFukkatsu BLACK Label, Red Mode causes the enemies to go into super mode.
Super Soldier — Deconstructed in DonPachi. The training for it involves killing thousands of fellow soldiers posing as the enemy.
Unwitting Pawn — You, in DoDonPachi. The enemies you destroy are your allies, which your commander reveals to you upon unlocking the conditions for the game's second loop before sending you off to be killed by said loop's forces. "See you in Hell!"