Wednesday, March 7, 2012

DoDonPachi Maximum review

Smartphone gaming, what's there to talk about? Not much really. These days smartphone gaming are about quick first person shooters clone with no innovations, or racing games with high quality textures and tacked on accelerometer steering. In fact mobile gaming is the bane of the industry, filled with quick me-too indie-dev wannabes with little to no aspiration to innovate and stand out. You can't blame them though, gaming on a touchscreen only device is just, well, shit. Try playing GTA III on Android or iOS - it's unplayable. And don't let me get started with all the crap Gameloft puts out.

Developers has recently started looking back at older arcade games an. Old school arcade titles were the bastion of simplicity, often only requiring a single directional stick and a button or two. And more often that not, they work. Mind you, not all arcade titles will work on a touchscreen device, particularly those that were created with more than two buttons in mind. For example Street Fighter IV on iOS had to be reduced to such simplicity to make it work on the touchscreen you have to wonder, why did Capcom bother? Still, people get pretty excited when supposedly full console titles gets ported down to mobile games, and excited people pay good money to stay excited.

Anyway I digressed. For whatever reasons, vertical shoot-em-up works really well on touchscreen. Perhaps it is their inherited arcade simplicity in gameplay that make it so. DoDonPachi Maximum is one such title. Released as an Xbox Live title on the Windows Phone 7 platform, Cave's latest mobile SHMUP is a great example in a developer making their game work on the small screen. The gameplay is simple, but that has always been the case of the DonPachi franchise, and in fact all SHMUP games. But it is also frantic, phenomenal, intense and more importantly - challenging.

Unlike most mobile vertical SHMUP titles, Cave has reserved an area on the bottom of the screen to control your ship. This, is the best thing a video games developer can do, and it means your fingers won't be wondering over the screen and blocking the screen 99% of the time. Touchscreen makes poor replacement for a typical arcade stick, but Cave has done well to make it work, and work well at that too. Ships moves around fluidly, responding to the touch control accurately. It isn't an easy game though and a game like this requires the gamer to have the perfect twitch control to navigate through some insane levels.

With four ships to choose from and 15 levels to blast through, DoDonPachi Maximum is quite simply, awesome. Visuals are stunning, and despite the last-generation hardware on my Lumia 800, the game remained fluid and smooth at all times. Rarely have I played a smartphone game that captures the essence of pure gaming fun. Is it worth £3.99, the price of 1 1/2 pints of beer in Londontown? Do I need to answer that? Go get it NOW.

Now if only Treasure will sit up and realise the huge potential of mobile gaming. Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga please!

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