Danmaku Unlimited 3 has hit Nintendo Switch after successful launches on PC and mobile last year. How does it fit the handheld? The Finger Guns Review;
I do love me a bullet-hell game. It’s fair to say I’m in love with damn near anything Housemarque puts out into the world but now they’ve hung up their genre boots, it’s time to go searching for another terrific console experience that fits the bill. Fortunately, there’s a games system that exists called the Nintendo Switch, and it’s gone and got itself a port of a hugely successful shmup that launched on PC and mobile last year. Danmaku Unlimited 3 has hit the system in some style.
Before you do anything in DU3, the most obvious tick this games receives is in its presentation. Mostly developed by Doragon’s near-legendary Sunny Tam, DU3 has landed on the Switch looking like a million dollars in super slick 60FPS and widescreen. This does mean that the game itself does is consigned to a straight up portrait mode bang in the middle of the screen, though it becomes irrelevant almost immediately the second you set eyes on the carnage of colours that follows hitting ‘New Game’. How this game looks and sounds is far and away its absolute highlight. Well, except for the utterly maniacal soundtrack – composed by Japan’s BLANKFIELD, full of wailing guitars, complex and intricate. Like Joe Satriani and Brian May are standing next to you throughout.
DU3 has two gameplay options available. Spirit Mode and Graze Mode. Spirit Mode is more for the casual shmup player, though still cranks up a fair challenge whilst the latter is for the hardcore that doesn’t take any prisoners and is a significantly different experience to Spirit Mode. For example, there are no lower difficulty options in Graze Mode, so if you find yourself at a difficult intersection and you want to just beat it you have little choice but to keep at it, as the game has no interest in making it a little easier for you. Make your bed, lie in it. Also enemy patterns are far more random and you’ll soon discover the pattern isn’t always the same. DU3 is meant to be played this way, and it profoundly kicked my ass on many an occasion, leading me to throwing my Switch across a room. Fortunately it landed on a sofa but still, I don’t think I’ve ever raged so hard at something I thought I’d be pretty good at, given my experience in the genre. Blimey, I was wrong. You can unlock perks and upgrades in Spirit Mode but they’re not easy to earn. You’ll need some solid knowledge of the genre before attempting to reach the final boss. I’m not sure I’ve screamed into my Switch so hard before and it’s not even its fault.
Still, it’s all about the high scores and works as DU3’s primary mechanic. In a Burnout kind of way the closer you get to dying but not-actually-dying will score you some points, and this will be allow to you get into Trance Mode, which will temporarily turn you into an absolute beast that can take down enemies without blinking an eye. You can power this by ‘grazing’ your enemies but you can also collect energy that emits from your fallen enemies.
As mentioned above Danmaku Unlimited 3 is all about maximising your score by using all of your tools at your disposal as often as you possibly can. Your enemies are fast and furious and can easily fill up the screen if you’re not fast enough to take them down or move out of the way of their incoming projectiles, staying as close as you can to ‘graze’ them and boost up your Trance to launch devastating attacks. It’s a tried and tested method, with a use of colour and light here quite unlike anything else I’ve played in this genre for a while. You’re either going to pick it up quickly or it’s going to take some time to sink in.
The earlier levels are naturally far more diplomatic in its ratio of enemies, somewhat gently dipping you into the Danmaku pool, from there though you’re going to need to know the difference between your focused beams and your wide attacks as you’ll be jumping between the two of them quite rapidly during your playthrough whilst avoiding the oncoming storm. Naturally there’s a lot of avoid, but there’s also a hell of lot to destroy, and this is a fundamental aspect in what makes DU3 so much fun.
Naturally this won’t be for everyone, it’s certainly not for the more casual player though it has the elements which will allow newcomers to get used to the mechanics rather quickly, though the tutorial and the game itself are two vastly different experiences. It’s deftly designed with some truly gorgeous looking enemy ships, and fans of the genre are going to pounce on it without hesitation.
It’s the best in its field and now it’s on Switch, which makes it more or less essential and yet another cracking indie port to Nintendo’s delightful handheld hybrid.
Oh and for maximum enjoyment, I recommend headphones. Big ones.
Danmkau Unlimited 3 in now available on Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC and mobile.
Developer: Doragan Entertainment
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review we were provided with a code from the publisher. For our full review policy please go here.