Tuesday, March 13

Review: Danmaku Unlimited 3 [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While there have been a multitude of shooters on the Switch to date, and many with bullet-hellish elements I wouldn’t say there’s been one that is purely rooted in that genre. After having a great deal of space in the mobile space the Danmaku Unlimited series making its way to the Switch has changed that. While the level of challenge obviously won’t be for the easily frustrated it has a sense of style that’s pretty hard not to at least appreciate from a distance.

Starting with how it looks Danmaku Unlimited 3 is simply gorgeous, though since it is a vertically-oriented shooter in the classic arcade style it can be tougher to appreciate. However, there are a number of options to choose from, including turning your screen on its side assuming you can fashion a stand. The colors jump off the screen and you’ll need all of that contrast and color to help you keep track of everything moving on the screen at once. Your primary weapon will often help with the various scrub ships coming your way, while also leaving your ship nimble. However, to take on the bigger enemies you’ll want to move over to your secondary and more focused beam weapon, just understand that you won’t move as quickly while its in use. Even in Easy mode there’s often not much room to maneuver in, so expect the game to always be putting up a fight and demanding your attention.

To up the ante on distracting you the key element that makes Danmaku Unlimited 3 stand out is the grazing system, a mechanic that actively encourages you to fly in close proximity to enemy bullets. While enemy fire will change over to blue so you can help charge your graze meter more safely while you’re in the midst of major battles with bullets everywhere if you want an edge it’s worth your consideration considering bullets will be all around you anyway. Once you get your graze meter high enough you’ll get boosted attack powers and will be able to rake in bonus gems to raise your score. Ideally you’ll be able to keep track of your ship, everything that is headed its way, and then manage to narrowly avoid being hit by all of if while keeping the look out for bullets that have changed over that you can grab as well. It makes for a very active experience.

While perhaps this is stating the obvious it is the intensity of play that may make anyone who isn’t a genre fan a bit hesitant. Make no mistake, while you’ll progressively learn the patterns of everything to help you better stay alive even at its simplest this is a game that understands with it is and pulls no punches. Overall the biggest boost you can get is knowing what to hit, how, and when as the enemies begin to come at you from all directions. Prioritizing the right ships to destroy first and looking for every opportunity to power up your graze meter is what experience will bring to the table and it helps greatly in making sure you’ll survive the onslaught.

Overall, as the first pure bullet-hell shooter on the platform, Danmaku Unlimited 3 hits the Switch with a firm level of difficulty and style to spare. While you’ll often end up cursing it as you get so close to getting further there’s a quality in it that I couldn’t ever put it down for long before taking another crack at it. With a gorgeous look, intense gameplay, and plenty of room for technique if you’re a genre fan you shouldn’t hesitate to pick it up!

Score: 8.5

  • Looks fabulous
  • Intense bullet-hell gameplay
  • The grazing system is well-implemented and motivates you to play very aggressively

  • Vertical mode doesn't make great use of the screen, especially if playing in docked mode
  • If you’re not a genre fan the experience may be a bit overwhelming