Vertical Bullethell shooting games are a big thing. You've seen tons of them at the arcades, the japanese gaming industry pumping out thousands of them, even indie developers like ZUN making ENTIRE SERIES of them. The thing is, that's because they are brutally challenging, aesthetically pleasing, and reward high risk gameplay and daredevil flying, so a lot of skill and high reactions are required. Danmaku Unlimited 2 is perhaps one of the purest examples of such a thing. It's the Bullethell shooter genre distilled into a two-flavoured package.
I say that because DU2 actually has two modes of play. Both are exactly the same game, and the upgrades and progressing you unlock (oh yes there's that too) apply to both modes, but each mode changes the core mechanics of the gameplay.
It's not immediately obvious from the outset, so here's a rundown. You have Burst mode, and Classic mode to choose from when you start a game. Classic Mode is your average Bullet-hell style shooter. You have a ship that's pretty mobile, it has a tiny little hitbox (that nice glowing core on your ship, don't let bullets touch it!), and you can shoot your guns. Your primary fire (Z, or X on a 360 pad) is your wide area rapid fire shooting, and your secondary fire (X, or A on 360 pad) is your Focus ability, which most STG fans will know is where your fire goes to a narrow path straight ahead and is concentrated, all point items on screen are sucked towards you, and movement is slowed allowing for more precision movement. This allows you to weave in and out of the beautiful bullet patterns to "Graze" your ship along bullets. Grazing increases your score multiplier and also powers up your "Trance" ability (C, or Right Bumper on 360 pad), which is the same between both modes - a quick wipe of all bullets CURRENTLY on the screen, and your power is massively increased, allowing you to destroy enemies rapidly, also causing them to drop very high value point items... for a limited time of course. Once Trance runs out, it has to recharge. In Classic mode, it automatically recharges over time.
In BURST mode on the other hand, you still keep your regular primary fire as normal, but your Focus ability is changed to a "Beam" ability. It has all the benefits of the usual Focus mode, EXCEPT that you don't fire again until AFTER you release the button, and ONLY if your Beam gauge is full, sort of like a mini Trance power! The Beam power is STUPIDLY powerful, and wipes out bullets it shoots too, so FANTASTIC for getting out of a tight spot. However you can only actually fire with it if the gauge has enough power in it, and hte more power, the longer it fires for. How do you build up the guage for the beam? You collect point items! Simple yes? Trance is exactly the same in BURST mode, except that in THIS instance you can ONLY build your Trance gauge up if you graze bullets. It does not automatically refill this time. You actively have to put yourself at risk to get it back so you can save yourself in a pinch.
Here's where Danmaku Unlimited 2 really shines. At its core it's pretty bog-standard STG format, with a few little twists (like Burst Mode for example), but it is a game entirely built around risk and reward, ESPECIALLY with the Burst Mode. The closer you are to enemies when you destroy them, the more your multiplier is built up, and the higher value pointitems they drop. The more bullets you graze, the higher your score, the quicker you get back your Trance gauge. The better you do and the further you get, the more 'XP' you get, which grants you more points to spend on upgrades to make your ship ever more powerful.
It's devilishly hard, and a lot of fun... and that's not even mentioning the ASTOUNDING soundtrack by BLANKFIELD. Give it a listen, it's pulse-pounding, adrenaline-fuelled metal and it is GLORIOUS. It's just a terrible shame it's so pricey at $9.99!.. but then you do get the soundtrack for the previous game in the series, the sadly iPhone only "Storm Strikers". Oh well!
(I think there's a Danmaku Unlimited 1 as well, but that's again iPhone only... and may actually be Storm Strikers, I don't know. I can find VERY little details on both Storm Strikers and Danmaku Unlimited 1!)
I find the simple fact that this is on PC amazing. This game really manages to find the sweet spot in terms of difficulty and mechanics. It also feels really modern while staying true to the old school roots of the genre. The controls are super smooth and they really couldn't be more responsive. The graphics are also smooth and nothing ever feels confusing. I really like the simplicity of the art style as well. The soundtrack is awesome and very appropriate. Everything just blends really well with this game and feels refreshing. If I'd have to point out a downside it would be the tutorial which isn't necessarily the best. But the game gives you enough feedback for you to figure out all the details of what's going on. Finally, just check out the feature description, there seems to be something here for all sorts of fans of the genre. It really is glorious to see all this shmup greatness running at 60fps in HD. It would be a sin not to give this one a shot if you're into bullet-hell.
Danmaku Unlimited 2 is a fantastic game that has provided dozens of hours of enjoyment (prior to the Steam release) and which has acted to kindle a massive surge in my interest of the incredible shmup genre. In the course of gaming for nearly three decades, I've played many shmups since Space Invaders on the Atari, but have only begun to truly appreciate them in the last year - better late than never! With developers like Cave, Treasure, Raizing, Seibu Kaihatsu, and many more - there is an enormous wealth of quality titles to experience and yet, Danmaku Unlimited 2 holds an important position within the genre in my estimation as a relatively "new" player. While those many other games are awe-inspiring on a number of levels, they are largely geared toward the very practised player and require a level of skill that can be offputting to somebody who is trying to gauge their interest.
Danmaku 2 has the perfect balance of accessibility and ramping difficulty. The mechanics of the game are very clear, and the hitbox of the player ship is obvious and visible. The visuals are crisp, clean, and colourful, without creating any visual confusion, and the music is fanastic and sets a great atmosphere. I feel that Danmaku Unlimited 2 is the perfect "training course" to the greater arena of shmups, and by investing time into this game, my skill level has increased by leaps and bounds in the other games. Still, it's plenty challenging in its own right, and I've yet to 1-continue complete the game on any skill level above normal. I find it a sublime rush to play on the hardest difficulty - with the excellent soundtrack blaring on full blast through my headphones, the screen rotated vertically (Tate) and my arcade joystick sat on my desktop, I often experience a feeling while playing DmkU2 that may resemble so-called "battle calm" - a tranquil trance-like state of absolute focus and heightened response where time seems to slow down and greater reflexes allow dodging through seemingly impossible bullet-hell situations. I can't honestly say I've really experienced anything similar in other gaming genres, and it feels awesome - that's why I find myself becoming avid about shmups! Danmaku Unlimited 2 is a brilliant game, and it blows me away that it's developed by a one-man development studio - I recommend that you pick it up straight away!
19 of 19 people (100%) found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
15.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 1, 2015
This is both a very accessible and extremely well crafted "Bullet Hell" style vertical shooter. The soundtrack is prog-metal meets ambient dance music in style and perfectly fits the game. The graphics are excellent, and the game play is addictive.
Great controls. Really, they are flawless. Fantastic difficulty levels. This game is great for both people who struggle beating the first level in Ikaruga and for people who can beat it while blind. Leveling up and customizing your lives, continues and additional shot types (focus, track, wide) is great for trying new things in game. Creative bullet patterns. I was really surprised about some of them, they are really cool. Nice visuals. Nothing distracting, looking great. AMAZING soundtrack. I want to throw money at BLANKFIELD.
It's simply an awesome shmup. Give it a try, you will love it.
Danmaku Unlimited 2 is a great japanese bullet hell game for fans of the genre and newcomers. Yes, you read it right: newcomers. If you're new to these kind of games, don't be afraid of all this barrage of bullets you saw on the screenshots; there's an easy mode to start and you can use continues. Between each playthrough you'll rank up and will be able to buy more lifes, upgrade your weapons, etc.
You can choose to play two full-featured modes ("Classic" and "Burst" - the latter is score oriented) and two extra modes ("Boss Rush" and "Free Play"). DU2 has only five levels, but they have good replayability.
This game works well with keyboard, Xbox 360 controller and generic joysticks (it even has DirectInput as an option). The soundtrack is top-notch will keep you on the edge of your chair during your playthroughs.
If you always wanted to try a bullet hell game but don't want to spend much money on something you might not like, I suggest you to try Danmaku Unlimited 2. You'll probably enjoy it. Also, It's cheap enough at the full price and an absolute steal when it's on sale.
Danmaku Unlimited 2 is a brilliant little game, in ways that may not seem at first apparent to newbies, or non-bullet hell gamers. What it isn't is groundbreaking, or genre defining. What it is, however, is a master class training program into danmaku shoot 'em ups, and it does it so well i challenge anyone to deny they've improved their skills while playing.
You may have seen games such as Touhou Project, recent Cave titles, or general Japanese Doujin releases and thought "it looks amazing, but i would suck" - this game is for you! DU2 lets you get used to things, before making you work - something a lot of these styles of games lack. I've been playing "Danmaku" games for years and was pleasantly surprised at how configurable this title is, and how much it wants you to get better.
This game is one of the most configurable Shoot 'Em Up's on the market - it goes from easy peasy, to OMFGWTF just happened in a few clicks - catered to your needs, and all the while throwing bullet patterns at you that you will recognise in other such games. Training ;-)
Danmaku Unlimited 2 makes you a better shmupper by design, so if you are so inclined, you'd be stupid not to play it.
BTW, it has a great soundtrack too! Everytime it boots i want to kick ♥♥♥! It tells me to. And so i do.