Sometimes the unlikeliest success stories are the most endearing, like when Leona Lewis won the X-Factor or when the iPhone became the unsuspecting host to Cave's Espgaluda II earlier this year. Despite only running on the swankiest of Apple's shiny iDevices and being priced at £5.49 – exactly £4.90 more than what most App Store shoppers are prepared to pay – the game still managed to make its impact on the flooded market and survive without a hasty and near-immediate price reduction.
Priced again at £5.49, DoDonPachi Resurrection has furrowed its way to the worldwide App Store before being made available on the Japanese 360 – if you'd have asked a shmup fan in 2009 whether this would ever happen they'd probably have scoffed right in your face. You'll still need a new-ish device to be able to play it properly, but it's a testament to both the iPhone as a gaming device and Cave's ability to adjust the shmup genre to the platform that DoDonPachi Resurrection is another immediate success. It'll still completely rinse your battery in a couple of hours, though.
Whereas the Espgaluda series deals with fancy flying psychic teenagers and surprisingly well armed carriages, DoDonPachi goes for a more traditional sci-fi slant: spaceships, lasers and exploding chunks of metal. Oh, and creepy robot dolls that transform into giant boss vehicles. The three selectable vessels have different bullet spreads, but ultimately it's a case of trying to dodge the zillions of enemies batting around on the screen.
If you're accustomed to the magnificent showers of enemy bullets that make up a Cave shooter, you'll already be familiar with how the game's more about avoiding the vast swathes of enemy fire than it is unleashing your own hails of gunfire. The iPhone versions of these games automatically fire, meaning you only really have to concern yourself with positioning and ensuring your combo counter is as high as it can be.
As is par for the course, any self-respecting Cave shooter requires an elaborate and complicated scoring system. New to the iPhone version is the unimaginatively-titled iPhone mode, which forces you to tow the line between destructive capabilities and a hefty score multiplier.
Kill a whole bunch of enemies and a bar at the top of the screen will creep to the left, giving you more offensive power but at the cost of your accumulated multiplier. Scrape perilously close to enemy bullets and the bar will steadily tick to the right, boosting your multiplier to a maximum of 1000. The idea is to grow your multiplier to max and then unleash fiery hell, but not too much that you veer out of the combo zone.
The new iPhone mode is absolutely fantastic, and part of the experience is bogging down your brain in scoring minutiae while the screen is exploding with dangerous blue pellets. For the purists, though, a port of the game's Arcade mode is also provided, along with OpenFeint support for leaderboards and achievements.
It's a gorgeous game, and one that runs at a framerate speedy enough to justify why it doesn't support older models of iPhone and iTouch. Espgaluda II proved that the iPhone's touch screen could make for an intuitive, silky-smooth input device - and it still works a treat here. It might be ten times more expensive than the average App Store game, but it's also a shining example of what a good developer and Apple's shiny iDevices can achieve if they work together.