What the heck kind of Cave game is Dodonpachi Maximum?

, | Game reviews

It’s a new bullet hell shmup from Cave, designed specifically for the iPad. It even proclaims itself a “maximum bullet simulator” on the splash screen. That’s exactly what Cave does well: simulating bullets maximally! What could go wrong?

Well, pretty much everything. The enemies have some sort of pixel built look, as if they were designed with a Lite Brite. I’m all for retro graphics, but they should have some sort of character. I can’t even really tell what these are supposed to be. Space Invaders?

There is furthermore no sense of place under the action. I think I’m in a cyberworld or maybe just flying past neon signs and vector graphics. The five placeless stages are arranged in a line, with a branching structure that unlocks difficulty levels if you finish without getting hit or without using your bombs. The ships you fly, a few of which are unlockable, are just a handful of basic spaceships. There’s also one of those Chinese good luck cats in there if you’re sick of flying basic ships. If there’s any sort of unique twist to the scoring, I can’t see it. Pewpewpew. Fill up your maximum laser bar. Brapppp. Then pewpewpew.

Dodonpachi Maximum is apparently custom made for the iPad. Which deserves better. And, fortunately, has better. After the utter genius of Bug Princess, and the inspired lunacy of Deathsmiles, and the sleek clean action of Espgaluda, I can give Cave a pass for the generic robotery of their other Dodonpachi, subtitled Resurrection. But whatever’s going on in Dodonpachi Maximum, a sprawl of sterile color and rote action without character, is perhaps the first Cave game I can easily do without.

1 star