Danmaku Unlimited 2

Writing about this was on the back burner for a while. Like, a long while. I even recorded a video back when my computer could actually handle that well. But then my computer had some weird nonsense happening and I kept getting distracted by stuff, you know how it is. It was only recently that I started looking at my backlog of stuff I had that I could play for this blog that I remembered that I should have written about Danmaku Unlimited 2 by now.

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Danmaku Unlimited 2 is by Doragon Entertainment, a one man indie studio. As the name indicates, it’s a bullet hell game. It’s a generic title, but thinking about it, it’s rather fitting.

You can go shoot up some spaceships in either Classic Mode or Burst Mode. Classic Mode prioritizes risky plays, with score multipliers being dropped by enemies when killed point-blank and the laser being used as a focus fire. Burst Mode changes the laser into a bullet cancelling beam that needs to be charged up, with cancelled bullets turning into multipliers; the beam makes this the easier of the modes, but going for score means planning out the best times to use the beam.

Pick either of the modes and you’ll go through a gauntlet of what you expect out of a bullet hell game. Small fry enemies gang up to fill your screen with bullets, escalating their threat in later stages to shoot alongside miniboss-type ships. Bosses confront you in multiple phases, each phase ushering in new colorful patterns for you to dodge. It’s standard, but it’s standard done well.

(This is the video of my first time playing this game, in which I completely ignore the laser like the fool idiot I was and still am.)

After each death, you gain some experience and level up, each rank giving you points to put into your ship. You can choose to upgrade the number of hits you can take or lives, which I feel is welcoming to new players. Alternatively, you can focus on upgrading your ship’s firing modes to become a powerful glass cannon. Note that there’s a hard cap to how many level ups you can have, so don’t expect grinding up to have unlimited lives.

It’s a fun game, it plays fine. As a casual shmup player, it’s welcoming and playing on the harder difficulties feels reasonable (but I’m gonna be real, it’s going to take me a lot more playing to be able to reach the bonus boss). Danmaku Unlimited 2, by most accounts, is a good game.

But, it’s a soulless game. I’m not saying that there wasn’t any effort put into the game, it’s that the game is strictly by the books when it comes to style. There isn’t much to differentiate itself from any other space shooter stylistically. People are dismissive about shmups that attempt to have story, but also, that sort of thing adds spirit to a game. Danmaku Unlimited 2 has no unique aesthetic, no strange premise that can draw people in. It is a Space Shooter. You are a ship, you fight ships, but it doesn’t go nuts with the concept or anything. Really, the most distinct part of the game’s style is the soundtrack, by Blankfield, which is mostly metal based and something that I enjoyed; although, the levels inability to establish moods or themes prevents the soundtrack from being in perfect synergy with the game.

The reason why I’m so fixated on style is because I personally feel that games that have heart in them draws people in. There have been plenty of games that I’ve looked at that would just be “okay” games if they weren’t dressed up in a unique style. Like, why play a standard space shooter when you can fight giant bugs in Mushihimesama or Space Moth DX? Why not be an anime girl in a vaguely defined world that allows people to imprint their own ideas on it? If you were to play a space shooter, why not go for something with narrative or something with a unique gimmick like Ikaruga? Thing is, style can make a game stand out and Danmaku Unlimited 2 just doesn’t. It’s a good time, but it doesn’t have the same kind of hold that you can find in other games.

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Danmaku Unlimited 2 is like a standard action movie. It’s good fun, you’ll enjoy it, but it’s not going to be something memorable – it’s there to scratch an itch, though it does a good job at it. If you want to get into playing bullet hell games but want to start out simple, Danmaku Unlimited 2 is a good choice at its price ($4.99 by default), but if you wish for something that you can really get into, there are other options out there.

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