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 Post subject: Dangun Feveron (Arcade)
PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 2:50 pm 

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Joined: 06 Nov 2005
Posts: 2550
d a n g u n * f e v e r o n * c a v e - 1 9 9 8 * r e v i e w e d - b y - f r e d e r i k - j u r k


I was just about to concentrate on either DoDonpachi, which I played for a longer time, or Progear, which I just recently gotten into after seeing some superplays and FINALLY getting what this jeweling is all about... but then I fired up a game I though I would hate and then I got hooked.

That`s right, I hated Dangun the first time I played it. I hated the music. You can torture me with 70ies Disco, stayin alive, night fever, please shut up. Then those ship designs. A metallic phallus, a weird triangular ship, and a ball of trash. Four speed settings that seems either too slow or too fast for me, and those attack modes that seem so wildly different to me that I wondered how balanced this game could be.

Oh, and a bonus character? Nice, what is it? A GIANT CAT? That shoots squids? And goes Meow Meow MeMeMeow Meow MeMeMeMeow? Yeah, right. Watching a superplay from Clover-YMN didn`t exactly help, he just stays on top of the screen, wiggles around and dodges shots occasionally so fast you can`t figure out what the hell he`s doing. And all the time Meow Meow Memememememeow. Man, what a shitty game. Why are those bullets so fast? The bullets aren`t so fast in the Cave games I know!!! Give me my money back, me, the customer!! What you say, I ripped the ROM from the internet so I play it for free? Nevermind.



So I guess that`s the whole point of Dangun Feveron, it`s not about the Disco music, not about it being a "parody" title (in this case it would have needed some mockery of the fat DoDonpachi laser at least!), - it`s about SPEED. This game is fast as shit. And you better get used with moving fast yourself too, or you`ll be hopelessly lost in between speeding bullets and cyborg discs raining down on you than want to be picked up.

I guess it`s not wrong to say most Cave games are about figuring out a way to get through dense barrages of thick bullet clouds while carefully forging a path through carefully designed levels. In Dangun, the pace suddenly gets way faster; and you`re busy running over the whole screen all the time. And if you are playing this game dedicatedly you`re more often in the upper half of the screen than not.



At first I tought the graphics were shitty compared to DDP, but taking a closer look, they are something different. While the backgrounds don`t break any new ground and the levels look a bit more alike (everything is in space, so no ground-desert-sky levels or the like), the enemies are nicely animated with many moving parts, skaling and rotating. There is this one section in level 2 where you can see a coming midboss (he`s a wuss actually) and his mates rising in the background and then zooming and rotating into the foreground REALLY SMOOTH. This was the moment I fell in love with this game. It just looks so sweet I wondered why on earth I haven`t seen this before. And the second stage boss is no different: As he unfolds, he looks so lifelike, again composed of many sprites. As you shoot him, there are really tiny partikles shooting from his metallic parts, and I am still figuring out how to take him down the best way. I have to add I am really a fool for multiple sprite enemies, the finest one I have ever seen must be the first boss in Gunstar Super Heroes on the GBA. Damn, this thing moves so smoothly, it makes me feel weird in my pants. Not to mention every single enemy in Alien Soldier. But I am derailing. (PS: Alien Soldier rules. Play it please, but play it after you read my review.)

You have quite a lot of options when you choose your ship (or rather put it together, TUNING it - no, you don`t have to unlock parts first, this becomes a trend a few years later), but it boils down to quite less playable options. For one, your ship speed, - there are four, but only the two fastest are recommendable, as the other two make your ship so slow you can`t manage all the tasks the game throws at you. Plus, the game will be a lot less pulsedriving. Who likes slow ships anyways?

Then you have your secondary weapon, which gets activated by holding the fire button (normal shooting is done tapping or with full auto on the c button), which is more specialized than the standard shot and wields a lot more destructive power of use on bosses and mid-sized enemies (or killing small enemies all at once).

At first I liked using the lock-on option, which, well, locks on enemies but takes far too long to take them out. On the other hand, you can kill smaller enemies with the locked-on stream while it kills the bigger ones, so I might give it a try again. Then you have the bomb option, which releases big, no - HUGE rotating missles that cause a hell lot of damage, but travel extremely slowly upwards; and since you can only shoot three pieces at a time you have to put them on top of the screen or it will take an eternity before they destroy anything.
The third option creates circles of energy around your ship, slowly getting bigger as you load it up, until you are finally surrounded by them. You could use them as a shield to kill smaller enemies, but it`s far more usefull to release the button so they move upwards in a huge chunk of destructive, piercing energy - it actually penetrates enemies and kills larger, more threatening ones extremely quick. Its actually more efficient to release them a bit earlier, as the shot it more concentrated this way. Very useful on bosses.

Oh, and the ship themselves, well - the ship actually power up their main and side shot seperately. The first one (the metallic phallus, the worst looking ship in the history of Cave) purely shoots straight, main and side shot alike, but not really useful when destroying masses of small enemies. It might be good on bosses though, but I didn`t try it out because the ship is THAT repulsive. The second one has a slightly spread shot and this the most effective one as far as I experienced it. The third one, the ball of metal, shoots his sideshot at an 45 degree angle, which is nice to conveniently killing many small enemies, but is not that good for focussing on bigger bosses.

Cave games always had a slow-down option that make your ship go slower when firing a more concentrated shot, but not so in Dangun Feveron. Believe me, you wouldn`t want it. Since this option was mainly for weaving carefully through tight patterns, you won`t find such bullet patterns here, as there are fewer but faster shots, and you`re outrunning them most of the time rather than going through them. This gives the game a weird oldschool-feeling without feeling like an old game (I hope this makes sense).

And they are beautiful. Sprinkling, spraying, rotating in your way in all kinds of neon colours - not just pink and blue, but green, red, yellow, name a colour, Feveron`s got it. It looks mesmerizing and it makes me wonder why on earth Cave decided to put only ONE bullet colour in their later games. Maybe the brain recognizes this easier? Can`t be it. Different colours are quicker to tell apart if you ask me. And Feveron is not to ashamed of throwing them to you in all kinds of shapes.

Speaking of colour, even though the levels don`t differ much in their design, each level starts in another colour; blue, red, gold are the first three stages - a bit like if you`ve put a coloured lens over the screen.



The scoring system is very easy to understand, score for enemies increases with the number of cyborgs to collect if you don`t let a single one of them slip OH MY GOD DON`T MISS A SINGLE ONE!! Enemies drop those red discs with dancing guys inside them and they travel downwards. Not too bad if you miss them, because then bounce off the bottom and start travelling upwards again. You should get them this time, because if you don`t catch them on their nice little trip to the top of the screen you chain resets. What chain? See, I am not an expert on this matter but as far as I can tell, every time you kill an enemy, you get ONE point. Not one hundret, not one thousand, no, ONE point. But each time you collect a cyborg, this is the amount of points you get for killing enemies. Collect five, you get five points, ten cyborgs, ten points, and so on. You´re going to collect many, MANY of those cyborgs later on. And, as I said, you miss ONE, your chain is gone and you have to start from scratch. This pretty much ruins your run so catching them should be your first priority. No matter what it costs. Even if you should die in the process.

Oh, and if you see one of those little critters escaping to the top of the screen, just release a bomb and they freeze in their movement, and at the same time you speed up rapidly, so you can catch them calmly. But be warned; not only once I saw this happening and one cyborg froze on top of the screen but it was already out of my reach. If this happens, you hear a dissonant piano clash, like "Clong!" and you know you`ve failed.
Gladly the upward travelling cyborgs start flashing so you know which ones should be caught first. At first it`s a bit confusing, but once your brain has got into it, you`ll do it on a basic, animalic INSTINCT level.

If you are one of those guys that claim they play shmups for survival and not for score, no matter if the game in question is clearly a SCORE shooter, you`ll have no fun with this one. It surely is fast as a Psykio shooter but there`s a lot more to this: If you ignore those cyborgs you`re missing the point of the game, missing the action that comes from manically collecting them while dodging fire and shooting enemies, but not only that: You`ll constantly assaulted with said "Clong!" piano sound as it comes every time you miss one cyborg. Overall this is a extremely refreshing and rewarding system, it`s a bit anal, but hey, thats not bad. And you can see whats happening, there`s no tiny gauge at the top of the screen or some hidden multiplier or bombing flamingoes or such twisted stuff, this is straight-in-your-face gonna catch `em all!

Someone in this forum said that collecting this little read bastards creates a new sense of urgency to the game, and right he is. Without them you`ll propably stay down there on the screen and calmly doding incoming fire. But this way, you`ll break into a lot of sweat even in the first stage; and the difficutly gets higher almost immediately after.

I die constantly - mostly because you have to focus on dodging, collecting, and shooting at the same time. Because of this I made my beloved level-select mame states, to get a bit more control over this situation. You have to work really really hard to get access to even the lowest position on the highscore table.

One more thing about the ship speed. You move extremely quick and it took me some time to get used to this way of dodging - when you`re not outrunning them, you quickly change your onscreen position and often escape bullets by waiting till they have a constellation in which you can quickly get out without bumping accidentially into bullets. It`s unusual to cave shmups, but its fun and looks cool. The game is tailored to this highest ship speed, and as I already mentioned, the patterns never get too dense. And if your reflexes get used to that, you still can move very precise, so its not that the controls are fuzzy or something. I would love to tell you about the hitboxes of your ship, but hell, I have NO idea. They must be small, but when you die you don`t see pink bubbles crawling slowly to the center of your ship - you just BLAM! die.



No Dangun review is complete without mentioning the Time-Attack mode. Press a+b and then start at the main screen, and you`ll fight your way for two and a half minutes shooting and collecting like there`s no tomorrow. For a change, this mode is not set in space but you`re flying over green grass and blue water - the whole mode reminds me a bit of early 90ies Compile shooters, like Super Aleste and it`s "short game". You don`t meet bosses here and the game gets frantic the second it starts, but you have unlimited lifes and it`s a solid challenge if you don`t have much time. A fine addition that adds to the already immense replay value of Dangun Feveron.

I forgot to mention that there`s a hilarious announcer, almost as cool as the one in Donpachi, that screams gibberish at you every second. "Heaven is here inside my soul" he screams at the first boss, but I might be understanding this wrong. "Watch out! Feel the music! Ess oh Ess! Can you feel it?" Simply great.

The only sad thing about this game is that Cave haven`t made a game like this ever since, besides maybe Ketsui, some people mentioned it in the context of Feveron, and seeing some replays of it that may be or may not be the case, I can`t really tell. While being a extremely fine shmup it is cleary the most un-Caveish game of the whole bunch. While games like Guwange or Progear widened the horizon of the shoot-em-up genre, they have typical Cave trademarks all over them. Dangun Feveron is a game that stands on it`s own feet. Underrated? Yes indeed.

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