Danmaku Unlimited 3 -- The Only Shmup You'll Need?
Today, Doragon Entertainment released Danmaku Unlimited 3 for the Nintendo Switch. After revisiting it on a new platform, I gained new questions. Is this the best version of the game you can play? Is this one of the best indie titles on the Switch? Is this the best shmup released in recent years?
Danmaku Unlimited 3 (DU3) is a top-down vertical arcade shooter. The Danmaku Unlimited series has been inspired by bullet hell shooters. By design these are games that normally have you surviving waves of enemies throughout each stage. These games are also notorious for seemingly high levels of difficulty. Over time, they've craved out a respectable niche.
The Not-So-Friendly Skies
Although the story is very vague, the player is thrown into the fray and proceeds to fight an unnamed army. The title takes place across seven stages, each named symbolically to piece together the narrative. The plot has loose parallels to the tasks of Valkyries and a pilot's duty.
Each stage take place in well-designed 2D spaces. As you progress, every backdrop appears more and more menacing. This is purposeful, to tell you visually that things are getting dangerous. From the vicinity of your space station to the ruinous cities of an unnamed planet, you are on a journey to hell and back again where no dialogue is needed. Why not enjoy the scenery ... while you avoid all the bullets.
Control and Comfort
The Nintendo Switch version of this game is the definitive version to own, mainly due to the options you have with control preferences. I found handheld to be the best. There's no change or downgrade of visuals if you go from TV to handheld. Handheld is the best from a personal perspective, and it allows you to bring the action anywhere and everywhere.
Alpha and Omega
DU3 is an interesting game overall, and if you've never played a shmup or have not played them for years, it is all that you need. The game has been built from the ground up to present the genre that has been around since the 1970s.
Like its predecessors, you are tasked with clearing the game and obtaining the highest score possible. To do this, you have to shoot down enemy ships, chain your attacks, and use the special graze system. The graze system, as its name implies, allows you to absorb bullets as they graze you. With enough energy you activate a trance mode. In this mode, you'll be glowing gold and possess even greater attack power and invisibility for a short period.
The game itself features an easy mode and hard mode. Easy mode doesn't feel easy for the unassuming player. Hard mode is well ... only for the most hardcore. The title also features unlockable weapons (with demanding prerequisites), leaderboards, and so forth.
As the game uses high-end 2D sprites, it's one of the most visually striking titles you'll play. The game is also vibrant and features a plethora of details you may not notice all at first. You will keep coming back for more before you know it.
All Things Considered
Danmaku Unlimited 3, despite being a solid title, isn't without its hiccups. The game's difficulty works against it as much as it helps it. There will be a small number of players who will appreciate its hardcore nature; others unfortunately will not. Hardcore games like this are often viewed as archaic. Again, this isn't so much a criticism but an observation.
The Definitive Experience
When you step back and realize this game was the work of one man, the feat is more astonishing. Developer Sunny Tam took a lifelong passion and made a modern-day masterpiece. He didn't sacrifice the natural difficulty of the genre but instead embraced its hardcore sensibilities. Admittedly, it'll take a certain kind of player to enjoy everything this title represents and provides as an experience. If you are that kind of player, this will be the only shmup you'll need for your Nintendo Switch because I doubt you'll find better.
Fans of indie games and shmups can find Danmaku Unlimited 3 available for the Nintendo eShop.
Note: A review code was provided by publisher.