DonPachi (Cyclone’s Best) (PS1)

(Review archived from January 4, 2019)

I’m pretty sure the translation for the phrase ‘DonPachi’ means ‘LoveHate’. Okay I totally made that part up, but it perfectly describes my experience with this game. I loved the non-stop action and the thrilling amount of firepower unleashed when your weapons are fully charged. I loved the graphics and the high energy soundtrack. I fully appreciated the fact that the PSX port of the game allows for arcade accurate vertical orientation, even if I had to fool around with rather obscure ePSXe graphics plugins to make it work properly (here tate mode does indeed turn the screen 90 degrees with proper aspect ratio … but it turns it 90 degrees horizontal; you’d have to turn your monitor on its side to make it into a proper vertical shooter – or alternately use a graphics plugin to facilitate the rotation as I did). But despite all these good qualities … I hated the way in which the game thoroughly kicked my ass over and over … and over again. The bottom line is that I’m just not hardcore enough for DonPachi. It’s the type of game in search of a player willing to devote swaths of time to the improvement of technique, studying the nuanced minutiae of each boss, memorizing level layouts, enemy placements, and bullet patterns. To put it succinctly, DonPachi strikes me as a game made by and for shmups enthusiasts. And unfortunately I’m not that. I’m a filthy scrub at shmups, and I’m not proud to say I made zealous use of save states to schlep my way through this one. So I can’t say I fully enjoyed my time with DonPachi, but I can say that I respect the hell out of it (repeated ass kickings tend to breed a certain begrudging respect), and I certainly hold in high esteem players who cut their teeth and actually get good at it. If you’re a shmups fan in search of a decent challenge, I have to say that DonPachi is awesome. If you merely dabble in shmups … well this one may very well put the Hell in your bullet hell.






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