Cave, one of the last Japanese developers still making shooters, has eight titles for the iPhone, and two for Android, which they didn’t even release themselves.
Rather, they farmed them out to G-Gee by GMO who – for a long time – did a very shitty job of actually making them available for sale. First it was Asia only, then it was only through Samsung’s app store, then finally through Google Play, and even now the free Lite version is sold by a different publisher than the full version.
Oh, and it’s an astonishingly expensive $6.50 when it’s on sale, $8.50 the rest of the time.
And it’s ugly.
Maybe it’s the ‘Vivid Runtime Engine’ or maybe it’s under seven layers of emulation, but the graphics look like a pre-rendered video running on a Sega CD. Remember those old FMV games with the horrible grainy graphics? That’s sort of what you get on Android when you want to play Dodonpachi or Espgaruda.
One of these versions looks clean and pretty, the other is the Android version.
Guys, seriously? $8.50 (the regular price) for this? I don’t think so. No matter how much fun it is, no matter how great the soundtrack and how groundbreaking the controls are, this sucks.
Updated: Interestingly if you don’t have a device using the Mali-400 graphics chip (ie: the Samsung Galaxy S2, Galaxy Note 10.1) you get better graphics, as seen in this HTC One X screenshot. The problem here is the software rendering its graphics at 16bits instead of 32bits. This will keep the Mali GPU from working too hard (and thus increase battery life, decrease heat, run faster, etc) but, as you can see, it’s ugly. The Mali chip does not dither well, and when Dodonpachi upscales the image, those poorly dithered pixels get huge and very noticable.
This thread details colour banding problems @16bits, and this 10ton labs post goes into detail about their development troubles. Regarding the Samsung Galaxy S2, they talk about the three different chipset versions of this single device, and money quote is this one:
…as a developer I’d really hope that manufacturers would use a different model name if they decide to use a completely different SOC. Even though your average user doesn’t mind what’s munching the bits, this situation makes a developer cry.
So ultimately the terrible visuals are specific to the two devices I happen to own (yay…), and the developer, like most Android devs, is entirely unlikely to respond to requests to make any changes. I’m sure they’ll talk about the poor sales (1,000-5,000 paid sales so far), which couldn’t have anything to do with the steep pricing (or their insane rollout where Japan had the game for months before some countries got the game via the Samsung app store, and only many months later through Google Play).