Pour one out for the unlucky drummer on Danmaku Unlimited 3’s soundtrack. It’s beastly, machine gun-like musical work, keeping pace with the fraying bullet patterns and explosions of this taut shooter. Danmaku Unlimited 3 fundamentally changes the relationship between villain bullets and hero ship, necessitating a cozying up between the two. Let bullets pass close enough to shoot metallic sparks and eventually, that turns into a stream of molten offensive firepower. It’s a physical manifestation of the bottled up tension, and the resulting blitzkrieg is full of satisfying power.
Everything is small and cramped, using the vertical frame and trapping an always undersized player ship against an onslaught. This isn’t just bullets, but physical opposition. Ships pour on-screen en masse and without care.
There’s so little room yet Danmaku finds an aesthetic, bleeding out abstract color in its backgrounds. Sometimes it’s a city in a haze or a mountainscape dropping into a horizon – sideways. Combined with the simulated speed, it’s a dizzying, indistinct blur of style. On top, notably inorganic, sharped-edged machines, almost always white and gray, contrasting with an inorganic/organic method.
Danmaku has style, it has a successful gimmick, and it has splendid intensity. A winning trio.