"AAAAAAAAAAH! AAAAAAAAAAAH!" This is usually what you'll hear coming out of my mouth whenever I play a DoDonpachi game. These cult Cave shooters are a favorite with shoot-em-up fans and DoDonpachi Maximum looks to continue the series' bullet hell tradition.
Maximum takes what fans of the series love and continues to roll with it. But there are some unique changes compared to their last game, DoDonpachi Resurrection. Gone are the different Smartphone and Arcade game modes. Maximum was built with iOS in mind. Also gone are the detailed enemy ship graphics, replaced by green looking holograms of your enemies. It's not distracting, but it's kind of weird. I actually missed looking at the detail of the obnoxious enemies who were trying to kill me.
DoDonpachi Maximum auto fires for you, so all you have to do is move your ship around and avoid the 5,000 bullets that are coming at you all at once. The touch controls on the iPad were spot on and accurate. I had no problem with slight maneuvers, which is what you need to squeeze by a bullet pattern of pink and blue death.
As you fire, your max shot builds up. Once it does, tap the screen to unleash your own weapon of fury, killing everything that gets in your way for a limited time. Once it runs out, it charges back up. I recommend using it everytime it's charged. Even though the game gives you three lives for each new stage, you can run out of those lives in the blink of an eye.
Not only is there a main boss to face at the end of each stage, but there's also a mid-stage boss, who can be a real pain in the ass. So make sure you've got your max shot ready to use to get you out of a tight spot. And there will be plenty of tight spots. It's ridiculous how fast the screen fills with bullets. But if you're smart, you can weave your way through them. Your weak point is the glowing orb in the middle of your ship. Bullets can touch you, just don't let them touch that. You'll know you died when you hear a strange explosion. Sometimes you can't tell because you're in the middle of a giant swarm of colors.
Choose between three different ships and have at it. The game tracks your high score through combos, but you're not really thinking about high scores when death is knocking on your door every three seconds. While the intensity is there in Maximum, the fun factor seems to be a little off. I'm not sure if it's because all I'm doing is just moving my ship around in a hologram looking environment, but I don't enjoy Maximum as much as I enjoy Resurrection. Another thing I don't like? The price. The game is having a launch sale of $6.99 but after that it goes up to $11.99. $11.99 for a shooter? Yeesh.
Still, this is an old school shooter that Cave fans are going to dig. The game pushes your device to its limit, and will only run smooth on newer devices like the new iPad and iPhone 5. Even on the new iPad I noticed some very tiny moments of slowdown, but nothing that impacted gameplay.
If you enjoy intense moments of bullet hell madness, then this new schmup is right up your alley. Casual players may not get into it, especially at that price point, but they're not the target audience anyway. Have fun swearing at the game when you're on your last life and 10,000 bullets are coming at you!