Don Pachi
(prequel to Do Don Pachi)

Atlus is a well known publisher of shooters. They released Gunbird for both the Saturn and the Playstation about a year ago which was a good, albeit extremely difficult shooter. Gunbird's saving grace was its collection of roughly 400 pictures contributed by both professional artists and from devoted fans of Gunbird. Don Pachi gives the player a choice of three gunships to choose from. There are two fighter planes and one helicopter, each with it's own weapon. The helicopter spews out a streaming green laser and is a medium-speed vehicle. The first fighter in the selection screen is the fastest plane and it's weapon is a gold colored streaming laser. The other fighter shoots out a powerful crescent shaped laser and is the slowest of the three vehicles. There are two modes of attack for each vehicle; one shooting mode concentrates your laser into one direct blast which is useful for blowing away bosses and heavily armored enemy vehicles. The other shooting mode is a spray shot where your firing arc covers roughly 90 degrees of the space in front of you. The satisfying thing about Don Pachi is the fairness of the enemy shots. I'll explain: there are shooters where there are so many shots fired at you that it is absolutely impossible to avoid them all. One game that comes to mind is the aforementioned Gunbird where volleys of shots would be fired at the player and there would be no space to avoid them all. Don Pachi gives the skilled player a chance to avoid shots that come at you provided you are quick enough and can map the path of all the shots.

Another forgiving aspect of Don Pachi is when your ship is destroyed; all of your power up icons will float on the screen foryou to pick up when your next ship appears. You will theoretically be able to power up to maximum levels immediately with every fighter. Like any other shooter, there is a bomb button that you can push should things get a little hairy. Unleashing a bomb will cover the screen with destruction and destroy every enemy unit in your vicinity. You can use the bomb button in another way also - if you are shooting with the concentrated shot, pressing the bomb button will magnify your firepower greatly which is useful for destroying end level bosses. Don Pachi's graphics are unremarkable but they convey the intense action well. You may experience some slowdown when there are a lot of shots on the screen but this usually only lasts for a millisecond. If I had one complaint, it would be that Don Pachi is a relatively short game. There are only five levels and once you are done with the fifth level, the game will start over again at level one with higher difficulty. Like some other shooters, Don Pachi gives the player the option of playing the game in a horizontal or a vertical mode, with the latter involving a 90 degree turn of your television.