Holy. God. Damn. This. Game. Is. Awesome.
It is very rarely that I get into a game so totally from the outset that its all I want to play. Most games, especially most of Cave's newer efforts are a slow burn that take a while to take hold and for me to enjoy them. Most of the time, I can take or leave a new title, especially the last DDP title, DFK, which was a bit of a bummer for me as I am not a big fan of bullet-cancelling games.
Saidaioujou however, is the shit.
There is only one other game in my entire history of my gaming, from 1980 to present that has made such a strng impression on me after the first few credits - and that is Ketsui. Which is probably the best compliment I can pay it, especially if you check the sheer number of Ketsui-related posts on the sidebar.
Usually, and ceertainly in the case of Ketsui, a game has to be the total package - OST, mechanics and graphics - to totally blow me away. Ketsui, DDP, and Garegga all fit these requirements. With SDOJ, its all about the mechanics. The OST and graphics, while good, are not great. In fact, I tend to mix up stage tracks in my head as they all sound a bit the same to me.
The mechanics. Holy hell, just awesome stuff and really where the game shines. The game itself is a direct sequel to DOJ and follows the same basic mechanics - shot, laser and hyper. Where SDOJ takes off is the build up and use of the hypers and the subsequent GP Bonus and increase in rank. For the most part, the first few runs I took, I popped hypers when ever I got them and the rank went up high and I died easily without much of a leap in score. If you hold onto your hypers, the multiplier increases as does the points you get. I have found that popping six hypers at a time seems to be the best for my current strats and makes for a doable rank heading into stage 4. It also has an auto bomb feature, which is great for learning the stages.
As it is right now, I have a high score on A-S of 1,294,867,667 where I headed into stage 4 with three lives in reserve and finally lost it on the stage 4 boss which I have very little experience with. I really only have a good hyper strategy up to stage 3 and then, it falls apart. I'm sure I'm missing a lot of points after that, but as I cannot stay alive for huge chunks of 4, that makes saving hypers pretty hard.
This pcb is on loan from rancor in Japan, who is a goddamn saint. I have it for about a month and I play it as much as I can without driving my lady crazy and I am making real progress. I have to start credit feeding stage 5 and get some good strats for the later half of the game, but as it is right now, I am still totally in love. It's an amazing game, one that keeps you working hard and keeps throwing new patterns at you. No Mushi style tap dodging here - you have to learn and adapt to new stuff all the time. It's very rewarding and very fun and very old school. I absolutely love this one.