Cave's notoriously difficult bullet hell shmup DoDonPachi Resurrection is now available for PC on Steam.
Cave, the Japanese studio behind acclaimed bullet hell shoot 'em ups such as DoDonPachi, Espgaluda and DeathSmiles, is refocusing development resources on social games following a disappointing six months of trading.
In a games industry that is shifting in scope, shape and structure with more speed and significance than ever before, few would have expected a company like Cave to be flourishing. The diminutive Shinjuku-based developer's primary business was founded in the arcades, crafting shoot-'em-ups defined by screen-filling showers of bullets that look, to all but the aficionado, to be entirely unnavigable. The amusement arcade was arguably the first fatality in the industry's evolution. Cave's output is, then, a niche within a shrinking niche and for any business fuelled by the small change in arcade-goers' pockets, that is an alarming proposition.
And yet, by being flexible in embracing Apple's iOS devices, the developer has managed to expand its audience and adapt to the new landscape of games in a way that Japanese studios many times its size are still struggling to. This is not the first time that Western players have met DoDonPachi Resurrection - originally released in the arcades as Do-Don-Pachi Dai-Fukkatsu (which translates rather wonderfully as Angry Leader Bee Great Resurrection). Last year, Cave released a re-crafted version of this, the fifth entry in the company's best-known shmup series, onto Apple's handheld devices, where it received renewed acclaim.
This version of the game, however, is truer to the arcade original, allowing players who don't have the cash, contacts or hardware necessary to buy the original PCB to experience a near-perfect port of one of the most desirable arcade boards around. It's also a dip back into the console middle-ground for the developer - away from the coal face of Tokyo arcades and the remote, newly-formed smartphone plains - allowing home players to experience the game without having to compromise on control or fly halfway around the world to do so.
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It strikes me, on the way to the company's offices, that the inspiration for Cave's legendary gameplay style may be staring me in the face. Alighting from the train at Shinjuku I'm hurled into a mass of moving bodies, skipping from gap to gap in an attempt to get from one end of the world's busiest train station (3.4 million passengers per day, fact fans) to the other without being smacked in the ribs by a sharp-elbowed Japanese granny.
"Just got in the zone with DoDonPachi Resurrection and scored 120 million. I'm gonna one-credit this bitch."
That really doesn't sound anything like me. That's not something I'd usually tweet. I'm not competitive, I don't care about scores and I've never wanted to "one-credit" any bitches. I haven't dreamed of finishing Resident Evil 4 with just the knife or five-starring Freebird while submerged in a vat of custard.
But, to be fair, I was still in the depraved state of figuring out how to win big in DoDonPachi. I could still hear the zany electro-J-pop echoing around my brain box and I was seeing faint pink and blue dots when I shut my eyes. I'd worked out the trick to get the biggest scores, and the most massive multipliers, and had survived for five zones without clunking in another virtual coin. It felt good. It felt worthy of a tweet.