DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou exA Label
Disambiguation: This article covers the DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou exA Label arcade release in its entirety. If you're looking for specifics on the exA Label game mode, please refer to exA Label Mode below.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Gameplay Overview
- 3 Original Mode
- 4 exA Label Mode
- 5 X Arrange Mode
- 6 Inbachi Mode
- 7 Trivia
- 8 References & Contributors
DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou exA Label (怒首領蜂最大往生 EXA LABEL "Angry Leader Bee True Death exA Label" localized title "DoDonPachi True Death exA Label", abbreviated: DDP SDOJ EX or just SDOJEX) is an expanded re-release of DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou on the exA-Arcadia arcade platform. It was developed by team EXA-AM2 in collaboration with CAVE.
The exA Label release contains four gameplay modes:
- Original Mode, a remastered port of the original arcade version of SaiDaiOuJou
- exA Label Mode, a brand new arranged gameplay mode featuring a dynamic rank system and bullet-canceling mechanics
- X Arrange Mode, an enhanced and rebalanced version of the Xbox 360 arrange mode from the console port
- Inbachi Mode, which allows players to challenge the famously difficult TLB of SaiDaiOuJou, Inbachi
- A: Shot/Laser
- B: Bomb/Hyper
- C: Rapid Shot
- D: Bomb (exA Label only)
These codes can be input on the name entry screen for an additional sound effect.
Press the below additional buttons when selecting a mode in the menu:
- Left: switch to original music (exA Label, X Arrange only)
- Right: switch to arrange music (Original, Inbachi only)
- B: Activate overflow (Original mode) / Switch B and D buttons (exA Label)
- C: Disable gadgets
- D: Shift all gadgets to the bottom (Tate only)
Original Mode is a faithful port of the original arcade release of DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou, with only a couple notable changes. For a more thorough explanation of the original game, please consult the DoDonPachi SaiDaiOuJou article.
Original Mode has the following changes when compared to the original arcade version of SaiDaiOuJou:
- Graphics and sound are using higher-resolution versions of the game assets, as opposed to the lower-resolution and compressed assets of the CV1000 release.
- The overflow glitch can be enabled or disabled with a button press when starting the game (see the Menu Codes section for more details).
- Type-D is added as a playable ship type for all modes. Type-D has been rebalanced when compared to its appearance in the Xbox 360 port; it is no longer overpowered when compared to the other ships.
Original Mode has been generally praised as a highly accurate port of SaiDaiOuJou. Opinions vary slightly about the accuracy of the slowdown, but it is considered to be a very good port by most players who have tried it. Notably, input lag is significantly reduced when compared to the Xbox 360 port of the game, making for a much improved gameplay experience. Testing by exA-Arcadia staff has demonstrated input lag that is equal to that of the original CV1000 PCB (though it is worth noting that different arcade cabinets use different monitors and different JVS IOs, which can themselves introduce lag that is cumulative with the lag of the exA Label port itself).
exA Label Mode
exA Label adds a bullet-canceling effect to the Hyper system of SaiDaiOuJou, which bears a strong resemblance to that used in DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu. The ability of the Player to shoot down incoming bullets with the Hyper is influenced by the level of the Hyper being used and the current Rank. Higher-level Hypers are more capable of destroying bullets; on the other hand, higher rank makes it more difficult to destroy bullets.
More generally, exA Label's scoring system includes bullet canceling as one of its core mechanics. In addition to the Hyper, which continuously cancels bullets while in use, the following actions now cause an instantaneous screen-clearing bullet cancel:
- Collecting a Hidden Bee
- Collecting a Bomb Item
- Collecting an Extend Item
- Destroying specific enemies or stage elements
- When compared to SaiDaiOuJou's Original mode, exA Label features more enemies that cause screen clears. Most notably, the large tanks in Stage 4 now cause a screen clear when defeated.
The duration of these instantaneous cancels can vary with Rank; at higher Rank, cancels caused by Item and Bee collection last longer (but importantly, cancels caused by enemy destruction do not). All bullets canceled with instantaneous cancels are converted into Stars, which is crucial for scoring purposes.
exA Label expands on the Rank system of the base game, increasing the Rank cap to 100 (compared to 50) and making the increase and decrease of Rank more dramatic. The Player has more influence over increasing and decreasing the Rank, and there are scoring and survival incentives for doing so. The table below summarizes the actions that have an effect on Rank:
|Hyper Activation||+(Hyper Level + 5)|
Rank has a significant impact on the game, both in terms of difficulty and scoring potential. The Rank system creates a very strong positive feedback loop: As Rank rises, more opportunities are created to cancel bullets for score and generate Hyper more rapidly through grazing and bullet canceling, and if the Player takes advantage of those opportunities to use more Hypers, they will raise the Rank, and the cycle will repeat. It creates an extremely satisfying gameplay dynamic, but it can also be difficult to control - if the Rank gets high enough, it can be difficult (or at least take many resources) to bring it back down safely.
Rank has the following effects on gameplay:
- Increases bullet speed dramatically
- Increases bullet density dramatically
- At higher Rank, bullets are more difficult to cancel with low-level Hyper Shot. At very high Rank, only a Max (Level 10) Hyper is consistently effective at canceling bullets.
- Bullet patterns change and become more difficult at higher Rank. This is particularly notable against Bosses, which often switch to patterns similar to those from Expert mode in regular SaiDaiOuJou when at high Rank.
- At maxed Rank, all Stars generated by the Hyper and cancel mechanics are Large Stars instead of Small Stars. Large Stars are worth many times more points; maxing Rank is thus crucial for scoring.
exA Label changes the behavior of the Bomb mechanics slightly when compared to regular SaiDaiOuJou:
- The MAXIMUM bonus has been removed. There is no bonus over time for excess Bombs in exA Label.
- There are additional Bomb pickups in most stages.
- The bullet-canceling effect of the Bomb has been enhanced. The initial cancel will produce Large Stars from all on-screen bullets; subsequent canceled bullets during the Bomb's duration will produce Small Stars.
- The Player will only gain a single Bomb back after losing a life.
- The Autobomb system has been revamped:
- There is no option to enable or disable Autobomb when selecting Ship and Dress types.
- When the Player is on their last stock and has at least one bomb, the Player will use an Autobomb when hit. This bomb consumes the entire available bomb stock, lasts a shorter time than a standard bomb, and is weaker than a standard bomb.
- Note that this can be triggered multiple times - if the Player collects another Bomb, they can use an Autobomb again. As long as they are on their last life stock and have at least one Bomb, an Autobomb will be triggered on hit.
In general, Bombs have been converted into a more strategic resource. The penalty for using them has been removed; there is no benefit (aside from an inconsequential one-time score bonus) for collecting surplus Bombs, so the Player is encouraged to use them intentionally. As noted in the Rank explanation above, using a Bomb manually reduces the Rank by 10 points, which makes them extremely valuable tools for Rank control. They also do significant damage to all targets on screen, and provide a long period of invulnerability - these properties can be used to deal massive damage to high-priority targets safely, like boss parts. The continuous generation of Stars (and thus Hyper meter) also makes Bombs strategically valuable to rapidly rebuild Hypers in certain scoring situations.
Bombs are extremely strong and versatile in exA Label, and it is in the Player's interest to use them often!
exA Label mode changes the behavior of the Hyper system from the original game. As mentioned above, the Shot from an active Hyper will cancel incoming bullets; the effectiveness of the Hyper at canceling bullets is proportional to the level of the active Hyper. Similar to canceled bullets in DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu, canceled bullets in exA Label will occasionally spawn a 'secondary bullet' that will be aimed directly at the player. These secondary bullets move at high speed, and can be extremely dangerous if they spawn at strange angles or unexpected times. Care must be taken when switching between Hyper Shot and Hyper Laser, or when approaching the end of a Hyper, to manipulate the secondary bullets in a way that allows them to be safely dodged. Secondary bullets appear more frequently at higher rank, but whether this is because of an intentional game balance decision or because there are simply many more bullets on screen at higher rank is not currently known.
The duration of the Hyper is also influenced by the Hyper level, and for low-level Hypers is significantly shorter than the Hyper duration in original SaiDaiOuJou. Somewhat unintuitively, this is actually a beneficial feature for scoreplay; shorter duration low-level Hypers can be used to rapidly raise Rank in the early stages, which is crucial for score routing.
The initial activation of the Hyper will cancel all bullets currently on screen into Stars. If Rank is maxed at 100, all Stars generated this way will be Large Stars. Bullets canceled by the Hyper Shot are converted into Hits, which feeds into the scoring system.
An important note for players accustomed to the Hyper mechanics of the base game - Hypers in exA Label have significantly fewer invulnerability frames when activated!
exA Label also gives the Player more options to build and recharge Hypers. In addition to the chain-based Hyper generation mechanics of the original game, SaiDaiOuJou exA Label adds new mechanisms to rapidly gain Hyper meter:
- Bullet Grazing
- Seemingly taking some inspiration from DoDonPachi II: Bee Storm, grazing incoming bullets will increment the Hyper gauge. Though only a small increase per-bullet, when grazing large numbers of bullets this can cause Hypers to build extremely quickly. Bullets will display a differently colored 'aura' effect when they are being grazed.
- Collecting Hidden Bees
- Collected Bees now give a minimum of 1 full level of Hyper charge. However, because the Bees also cancel bullets into Stars, it is possible to cancel a large number of bullets when collecting a Bee and gain more than one Hyper as a result of the subsequent Star collection. The final bee in a Bee Perfect stage does not contribute any additional levels.
Overall Game Changes
exA Label mode makes several balance and gameplay adjustments to the overall game that cannot be neatly categorized.
The "Dress System" from SaiDaiOuJou does not have any gameplay effect in exA Label, but it does return as an aesthetic option. Players are free to select whichever Dress they choose, with no effect on game difficulty in this mode.
Many bullet patterns are significantly re-tuned or redesigned. This is most notable with Boss patterns, particularly against Byakko and Seiryuu (the Stage 2 and 4 Bosses, respectively). Seiryuu's first phase patterns have been adjusted to be more consistent, and the final pattern of the fight has been made significantly more aggressive, which results in a completely different dodging and safespot strategy.
Bosses and Mid-Bosses now feature destructible parts, each with their own separate health pools and lifebars. Destroying all parts of the boss sometimes causes patterns to become much more dangerous, but sometimes weakens them considerably. As each part is destroyed, the enemy may react (for example, they might be blown sideways by a weapon explosion), and the subsequent patterns may change. These parts can offer unique situations for survival play - the parts themselves block damage to the 'main body' of the Boss or Mid-Boss, so destroying them is sometimes a necessity. In some cases (such as the fight against Kouryuu at the end of Stage 5), a well-placed Bomb can be used to quickly damage or destroy multiple parts at once, and trivialize an otherwise-difficult part of the fight. Learning which parts to destroy, and when, can be very useful when planning Boss encounters.
Additionally, the Extend item condition during the Stage 4 Mid-Boss fight has also been adjusted. In addition to a no-bomb requirement, the Player must also defeat the Mid-Boss with an active Hyper to receive the Extend item.
Also, the score extends are now set by default at 5 000 000 000 points and 15 000 000 000 points.
- Grazing charges hyper.
- Rank increases bullets and bee/bomb/1up cancel duration.
- Hypers cancel to small stars on activation and big stars on activation resulting in rank >= 100.
- Cancelling bullets increases hits and gives some points.
- Star values are multiplied by hit counter.
- Bombing cancels to big stars on start and then for duration cancels to small stars.
X Arrange Mode
X Arrange Mode is adapted from the Xbox 360 exclusive arrange, with the below notable differences:
- All four ships are now playable, instead of only Type-D.
- The HP counter continuously drains during gameplay. It is possible to replenish it by picking up items or destroying bosses.
- Shot is the same difficulty as Laser.
- Slowdown is based on exA Label.
The HP counter continuously drains at an estimated rate of 20 HP / second. It is halved during boss fights to 10 HP / second.
The following actions affect the counter:
- Destroying a boss: +1000
- Destroying a midboss: +800
- Picking up the 8th bee in a stage: +500
- Destroying a boss part: +400
- Picking up a bee item: +200
- Picking up a big star during hyper: +7
- Picking up a small star during hyper: +3
- Picking up a big star outside of hyper: +1
- Manual bomb: -1200
- Autobomb: -2000
Inbachi Mode allows players to challenge Original or exA Label versions of Inbachi. On default settings, this mode provides some extra starting resources compared to an arcade playthrough, but is otherwise identical to the fight in the other gameplay modes.
- Due to the extremely high difficulty and very short average credit duration, Inbachi Mode is rumored to have been jokingly referred to internally as 'donation mode' during development.
A few non-game-breaking bugs are present, mostly related to Freeplay and mode disable.
- When other modes are disabled, pressing the start button in freeplay during the demonstration will start a credit with 3 lives, even if the default was changed in the test menu.
- If only exA Label is enabled, pressing left and start on the title menu will disable the music in stage instead of switching to the original soundtrack.
- From at least as early as January 2021, the Stage 4 Boss intro animation has had a visual bug; the boss appears instantaneously and covered in a yellow 'haze', rather than being revealed only by the warp-in effect. This has been reported to exA staff and may be patched in a future update. This bug has no impact on gameplay. 
References & Contributors
- VxD: Initial bring up, secrets
- Softdrink: Explanation of modes, differences compared to SaiDaiOuJou, Overview
- Specifically, "it's equal to the PCB input latency except during JVS poll time (2~4ms) it is +1f, so effectively it is PCB+JVS poll time latency...(this specific is slightly interesting because it means after the JVS poll, which starts as soon as VBLANK starts, in the raster it is identical latency)
- For example, see this timestamp in an exA Label Original Mode run and compare to this timestamp from the X360 port.