Dangun Feveron
by sunburstbasser



Dangun Feveron is a vertically scrolling shmup which may have a story involving blowing stuff up. There is no narrative to indicate this.

Cave actually did come up with a story for the game. A general en route to steal Earth's water is interrupted while having a love chat with his wife and changes course for the source of the disturbance. But shooters don't sell because of stories. They sell because of gameplay and Cave knows how to do that well enough that they've managed to become one of the biggest shmup developers still extent.

Dangun Feveron is Cave's take on the parody shmup. Rather than following the Konami route and doing a cute Parodius-style shooter, Cave made a disco shooter. The music (provided by the always excellent T's Music) sounds like the funk and disco of the 70s, a unique choice for a shooter. Cave also set the game in space. While shmups are sometimes referred to as "space shooters," Cave in particular had not set any of their games in space prior to Dangun Feveron and hasn't done so since. To go with the disco theme, bullets come in all kinds of bright colors. Blues, greens, and reds all mix together. The effect is actually somewhat mesmerizing and I find it a pity that most danmaku games just use one or two colors for their bullets.

Tap the A button for a straight shot, hold it for the charge weapon. Button B drops bombs which stop disco men and do huge damage. Collect straight P icons to power the straight shot and angled P icons for the side shot. B icons give an extra bomb. A 1up is available at the start of Stage 5 as well, and the graphic actually is a 1up rather than "extend" like many shmups.

Cave games always have a few choices of vehicles of destruction. For Dangun Feveron, Cave also added charge weapons and ship speed to give players all kinds of options. The ships all have a forward-firing shot and a side shot which varies depending on the ship.

TYPE A


Type A fires red bullets. The side shot actually goes straight ahead, for concentrated damage.


TYPE B


Type B fires yellow bullets. The side shot spreads slightly, about thirty degrees.


TYPE C


Type C fires blue bullets. The side shot is a very wide angle, good for screen clearing but it requires point-blanking to concentrate shots on an enemy.

The charge weapons are each unique and have their own strengths and weaknesses. Cave knows how to balance their weapons, so none are overly powerful or flawed.

LOCK-ON
The Lock-On fires a stream of what look like saw blades. When an enemy is struck, the blades will seek out that enemy for continuous damage. The actual damage output is rather low.

BOMB
The Bomb fires up to three missiles at once straight up very slowly. When they strike an enemy, they explode for excellent damage and will take out entire groups of small enemies. Point-blanking larger enemies with Bomb will take most down in a couple seconds. While powerful, they are slow and once fired will fly straight up. Seasoned players will fire them off so that enemies fly into them, but this takes a lot of playing to pull off successfully.

ROLL
The Roll is closer to a traditional R-Type style charge laser. Hold the A button and energy balls form around your ship. As they charge, they move out and surround your ship. This rings will damage enemies that come in contact with them. Release A and all the rings turn into bullets for good damage. The best time to release the shot is just as the balls are starting to circle around your ship. This concentrates all the shots in a smaller area for good damage on larger enemies.

After choosing a ship and weapon, four speed choices are available. These are fixed and there is no way to change speed during gameplay. Dangun Feveron is a fast game, so select either of the two faster speeds.



On top of all that, a secret character is available. After a credit is inserted, press Down, Up, Right, Left, Up, Down, Left, Right. A joyous sound will play when entered correctly. This code activates Uo Poko, the cat from Cave's puzzle game Puzzle Uo Poko. The cat has no bomb and gets no charge weapon. It is much faster than even the fastest speed for the ships, has standard autofire, is always at full power for the shots, and by pressing B Uo Poko will cycle through the shot widths of the ships. While hard to control, Uo Poko is able to achieve scores far higher than any of the ships.

Scoring requires far fewer digits in Dangun Feveron than most Cave games. Each enemy is worth one point. When destroyed, enemies will release disco men. Grab them to create a score combo. Each disco man collected adds one to the counter, up to 999. Disco men start out red, float to the bottom of the screen and turn yellow. They rebound to the top and leave the screen. Miss a disco man and the counter reverts to one. Kill enemies as soon as they enter the screen, and they will drop more disco men. Getting P icons at full power adds 5 to the counter.

Cave is best known for huge, slow-moving patterns of bullets that must be cautiously navigated, creating what some call "bullet mazes." Dangun Feveron has some bullet patterns, but focuses more on aimed bullets in huge quantities. If you haven't yet, check out my Sengeki Striker write-up as that game uses the same idea. The difference is that Cave makes it fun instead of frustrating.

Bullets and enemies are fast, and to play Dangun Feveron requires you to be dashing all over the screen. In Sengeki Striker, your fighter was slow and had slow firing weapons that didn't do a lot of damage. In Dangun Feveron, any of the ships has enough firepower to take care of enemies and instead of weaving between aimed bullets, the fast speed makes it possible to go completely around a bullet cloud. Uo Poko moves so fast that precise dodging is very difficult but aimed bullets can be danced around.



Dangun Feveron has five stages. All of them have the same theme, so I won't be giving a blow-by-blow. Each stage is a fight through open space, with flying enemies arriving from above and from the sides and even from behind. Ground enemies are placed on chunks of asteroids or other objects. Interestingly, in Stage 1 the asteroid in the background has cars driving on it. Most of the stages have a color scheme, which looks like a transparent layer placed on top of a starfield. Stage 2 is red, for instance.



Bosses also follow a theme. While the actual attack patterns are unique to each boss, the basic idea is always a giant space ship. The final boss is an orb with telescoping arms that flings huge amounts of pastel bullets all over the screen. The other four are all some variation on a space ship with things attached to the sides that need to be shot off. All of them have the standard Cave style and are quite intimidating, even in Stage 1. Yet as they all follow the same style, I don't see a reason to break them down any more than I do the stages.

Cave added something else to Dangun Feveron more often relegated to console shooters. Holding A and B and pressing Start will put the game into Caravan mode, like Hudson's Star Soldier games. This mode uses the same ships and weapons as the standard game, but is otherwise completely new. The level is a long level with some forest themes going on. Lives are unlimited in this mode, and the emphasis is purely on score. Scattered all over are wooden poles. When bullets pass over them, they flicker. Sit on top and fire away and they raise up, a little like the towers in Xevious. Poles drop several P icons each.

The level lasts for three minutes. Enemies get pretty brutal, but with unlimited lives it balances out. Bombing is always an option, though no disco men will be dropped while a bomb is in effect. High scores are easier to achieve in Caravan mode, with my own personal best being more than twice as high as my standard game score and scores over a million don't require months of practice. Caravan mode is worth a play when standard shmupping gets old.

Dangun Feveron is a very fun little game that doesn't take itself too seriously (HEAVEN IS HERE INSIDE MY SOUL). It is well balanced and a fun break from the Battle Garegga/DoDonPachi/Touhou styles of danmaku. The lack of variety in bosses and levels keeps it from being a perfect game, and scoring well practically requires using a character that can't reliably dodge. Give it a go, and if the game doesn't draw you in at least track down the mp3s for the music. And go play Puzzle Uo Poko. That game is stupidly addicting.

Overall:







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