If you’d sat me down in the days when I was only playing Touhou and Ikaruga, long before I ever saw a Donpachi or MAME or anything, and told me to design a shmup, I think something very like Danmaku Unlimited 3 would have come out. That’s not a bad thing. DU3 oozes style, with a crisp, heavily-saturated palette and a pounding, grinding, kickass OST that’s head and shoulders above just about everything else on the market, for my money.
The game feel is well done in general, though enemy explosions are just a touch underwhelming for some reason. Gone is the weird, self-obsoleting upgrade system from Danmaku Unlimited 2, replaced with shot and laser types linked to in-game achievements, a very welcome change. You’ve got two modes of play, here, both centered around grazing enemy shots. Killing enemies in Spirit Mode cancels their bullets into ghost bullets that you can still graze to raise your Trance meter (essentially a Hyper). Graze Mode locks you out of raising the Trance meter until you first max out your Graze High, basically just making you graze more. It also doesn’t cancel most bullets on enemy deaths, and makes Hard the minimum selectable difficulty.
The style of patterns on offer here is very much a combination of Ikaruga’s waves of numerous popcorn enemies that don’t actually fire at you and stationary, nigh-indestructible laser barriers, coupled with Touhou-style generally-slow-moving patterns with nice chunky gaps, creating a maze-like experience that’s visually intimidating but often less difficult than it looks. Bosses last just a touch longer than is comfortable, though this is a very minor complaint.
Overall, this is a very solid 7 or 8 out of 10, which for $10 is well worth the money.