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Logo DonPachi 3x.png
Screenshot DonPachi 001.png

Title screen

Developer: CAVE
Music: Ryūichi Yabuki
Program: Tsuneki Ikeda
Toshiaki Tomizawa
Hiroyuki Uchida
Ryūichi Yabuki
Art: Atsunori Aburatani
Kazuhiro Asaba
Jun Fujisaku
Riichiro Nitta
Naoki Ogiwara
Release date: Arcade: May 1995
Sega Saturn: April 26, 1996
Playstation: October 18, 1996
Next game: DoDonPachi

DonPachi (首領蜂 "Leader Bee", abbreviated: DP) is the first game developed by CAVE, and the first entry in the DonPachi series of shoot-em-ups. It is one of the first games in its genre to introduce a chaining system, which would become a well-known staple of the series. Alongside Batsugun, DonPachi is considered to be one of the progenitors of the shooting game sub-genre known as bullet hell. It also features a man named "Bob" as the announcer of the game, and we love him very much.

DonPachi was originally released in the arcades in 1995. It was later ported to the PlayStation and Sega Saturn home consoles. The console ports are generally considered inferior to the arcade version, and typically aren't played for score.


For replay videos, visit the Video Index.

Gameplay Overview


DonPachi is a three-button shooter. Button C is disabled by default but can be enabled in the service menu.

There are five stages in the game, with a second loop beginning at the end of stage five. Upon reaching the end of the second loop, the player will fight the True Last Boss (retroactively sometimes referred to as Taisabachi). There are no special requirements for entering the second loop or fighting the True Last Boss.


  • A (Press): Fires the standard "spread" shot weapon.
  • A (Hold): Fires the ship's "focus" laser weapon (also surrounds the player with an Aura that deals severe damage).
  • B: Detonates a Bomb, clearing the screen of bullets and dealing massive damage to enemies on screen.
    • Pressing B detonates a Spread Bomb, which damages everything on screen.
    • Pressing B while holding A (firing your laser) detonates a Laser Bomb, which fires a massive laser blast dealing extreme damage to anything in its path.
  • C: Auto-fire for the player's standard spread shot. Shot frequency with C is higher than what can normally be achieved with putting auto-fire on button A. Therefore, some advanced chains are only possible with C.


There are three ship types in DonPachi. Playing on 2P side has no effect on game mechanics.

Ship 1P side 2P side Speed Shot Laser Y-axis position
of hitbox
Strength Beam Width Activation Speed Travelling Speed
Type A Dp-p1-red.gif Dp-p2-yellow.gif Faster Narrow Medium Smaller Faster Medium Center
Type B Dp-p1-green.gif Dp-p2-purple.gif Medium Medium
Options track lateral movement
Weaker Greater Medium Faster Higher
Type C Dp-p1-blue.gif Dp-p2-black.gif Slower Wide Medium Greater Slower Medium Lower
Left: Type A hitbox for Japan version
Right: Type A hitbox for Hong Kong version

Note: Type B is unusual in that it is the only one of the three shot types where its gunpods shift their aim according to your movement. As you move left or right, the gunpod on that side will rotate accordingly, and can rotate until it's firing horizontally. The turning speed is much faster if you hold down then press left or right, allowing you to rapidly sweep with it by tapping the appropriate direction. You can also force the gunpods back into a forward facing position by briefly holding Button 1 and then letting go again, allowing you to move around while keeping both gunpods firing mostly forward. There's a brief window where you can hold Button 1 then release to reset their aim without activating your laser.

When the directional inputs LEFT and RIGHT are mapped onto a single button, it is possible to make Type B's option shoot to the side while standing still.


There are two types of bombs, Spread Bombs (press B) and Laser Bombs (press B while firing your laser). Laser Bombs are recommended for use against bosses for survival players, as they damage the bosses considerably well.

Laser Bombs inflict more damage per frame when the player is moving around as opposed to standing still (over 20% more damage).

The player holds 3 bomb slots upon starting the game. With every 3 bombs used, the player's bomb capacity is increased by 1 slot up to a maximum of 7 slots.

After the end of each stage, the player is rewarded with extra bombs depending on the stage completed shown in the table below. These extra bombs only fill up the existing slots with extras being discarded if the player's stock is full.

Stage Extra bombs
1-1 1
1-2 2
1-3 3
1-4 4
1-5 5
Second Loop
2-1 1
2-2 2
2-3 3
2-4 4

In the US version of DonPachi the player's bomb stock is refilled regardless of the stage cleared.


Item powerup.png
Power Up
Increases your attack power (max power after the 8th item)
Item full.jpg
Max Power Up
Instantly grants max power (only appears after losing all lives)
Item bomber.png
Increases your bomb stock by 1
Item star.jpg
Star Item
Small point reward
Item bee medal.png
Bee Medal
Point value increases the more you collect per stage
Item 1up.png 1-Up
Rewards the player with one extra life

Extra Lives

Stage 1-4 extra life location

There are two extra lives to be gained in DonPachi, increasing the player's maximum possible life stock to 4.

  1. By getting 2,000,000 points the player is rewarded with one extra life.
  2. There is a hidden 1-Up item in the central building located at the end of the corridor with the stationary red ships to the sides in the second half of stage 1-4. If you use a bomb while destroying this building, the 1-Up item will not appear. There are no other requirements to make the 1-Up appear. This 1-Up does not appear in the second loop.

Hidden Bomb Items

There are a handful of hidden bombs that can be uncovered by fulfilling conditions described below. This is particularly relevant to survival players.

  • Destroy the two hoverboats in stages 1-3 and 2-3 after they have come to a halt for one bomb each.
  • Destroy the three green midsized enemies towards the end of stage 2-2 without the use of a bomb. If done correctly, each of the enemies will drop a bomb.
  • Destroy the two hatches to the left and right side of the stage 2-3 boss without the use of a bomb for one extra bomb item each. The hatches will also drop a bomb item if they are still intact when the boss blows up. However, if the boss is destroyed with a bomb, even an intact hatch will not drop a bomb item.


Disclaimer: The following information on rank is best seen as purely technical knowledge. There is no way to reasonably implement any form of rank control into your gameplay. This whole section can be ignored if you are just playing the game normally either for scoring or for survival.

The rank system of DonPachi works as follows.

(Left) No Miss flag is ON;
(Right) No miss flag is OFF
Per-player rank
player rank = (power * 2) + bombstock + ((maxhit - 20) / 8)
Single-player game
rank = stage base + (loop * 16) + stage number + (survival frames / 2048) + bees + lives + player rank
Two-player game
rank = stage base + (loop * 16) + stage number + (survival frames / 2048) + 1P bees + 2P bees + 1P lives + 2P lives + ((1p player rank + 2p player rank) / 2)

The stage base rank is different in different versions of the game.

1 2 3 4 5
Japan 0 1 2 3 4
Hong Kong 10 14 18 22 26
  • Loop and stage numbers start at 0, so stage 5 has a value of 4 and loop 2 has a value of 1. Lives include the one currently in use, so two ship icons mean three lives.
  • power refers to your power level and increases every 2 Power-Up items collected. A sound effect "power up!" is played when you increase your power level by 1.
  • bees refers to the number of bees collected in the current stage.
  • maxhit refers to the maximum number of hits obtained throughout the entire game. If this is below 20, this factor is not included into the rank.
  • The final result of this formula and therefore the rank itself is capped at 63.

As the rank cap of 63 is set comparatively low, advanced players will reach max rank as early as stage 1-5 thereby making the whole formula feel unnecessarily convoluted. Rank control is generally not considered to be a viable strategy neither for scoring nor survival.

Bullet Speed

bullet speed = base + modifier * multiplier

The speed of bullets is calculated by combining a base speed specific to each bullet type in the game with a scaled modifier. In most cases the base of this modifier is simply the rank value divided by 4, or 8 in the international version of the game. In some cases the modifier is fixed at a specific value to give the bullets a consistent speed. The value of the multiplier that scales the modifier is also version specific - in the Japanese version it is 0.5 but in the Hong Kong version it is 1.5.

Return Fire ('Revenge Bullets')

'Revenge bullets' are bullets that are released from the explosions of destroyed enemies during the second loop. The behaviour of these bullets depends on the current stage and whether or not the player has died. If the player hasn't died at all yet the speed of each bullet varies randomly. There are also four different types of bullet that can be released:

Type 1 A small bullet aimed at the player but with a random angle variation.
Type 2 A larger, faster bullet aimed directly at the player.
Type 3 A small bullet whose angle varies according to the player's angle.
Type 4 A small bullet aimed directly at the player.

The bullets cycle through these types in order as they are released, with omissions according to stage - in the first stage of the second loop only Type 4 bullets are released but with each new stage more types are added to the cycle:

1 2 3 4 5
Type 1 N Y Y Y Y
Type 2 N N Y Y Y
Type 3 N N N Y Y
Type 4 Y Y Y Y Y

However, dying at any point will have two permanent effects on these revenge bullets:

  • The modifier in the bullet speed calculation will be equal to 0, instead of the current rank value with a random variation; all revenge bullets will travel only at base speed.
  • All revenge bullets released will be of Type 4 regardless of stage.

Player Death

When the player loses a ship, the following changes are made:

  • The number of lives the player has is decremented by 1. If the player had no spare lives, this causes a game over.
  • The number of bombs being carried is set to 3, regardless of capacity. There is no effect on the bomb capacity count.
  • The Capacity Bonus chain is broken, and cannot be restarted.
  • The player's shot power is set to 0. However, "partial" power up (the small P icon on the bottom of the HUD) is preserved.
  • The GPS chain is broken.

Observable Screen & Playing Field

DP screenboth.png

As in many other shmups, the screen in DonPachi only shows about 3/4 of the horizontal playing field, leaving some parts to the sides of the screen not observable to the player. It's important to note that this phenomenon has no effect on ground enemies but does affect most (but not all!) airborne enemies in their spawn position on screen. In fact, the x-axis position of many airborne enemies is decided in relation to the viewable screen only and not by the absolute playing field.

To give an example, in the left half of the image to the left, the player is at the left edge of the playing field, and in the right half the player hugs the right edge. Nonetheless, the x-axis position of the item carrier is exactly the same relative to the observable screen. This also means that the absolute coordinate of the x-axis position is different when the full playing field is considered. This results in the fact that airborne enemies spawn in slightly different places for their x-axis position.


The full deviation of the x-axis spawn points of airborne enemies is shown in the image to the left. The red lines mark the two extreme coordinates of the x-axes when the player has hugged the two edges of the playing field by the time the enemy had entered on screen. This has potentially great effects on devising a chain route as the player can control the enemy spawn positions to a certain extent. For instance, when spawning the item carrier in this scenario more to the right, it becomes possible to damage the cockpit of the ship that would otherwise be blocked as seen on the left. This way, the player can keep the item carrier alive including it in the chain and is able to weaken the cockpit for a better setup overall.

The deviation of the two extreme x-axis positions roughly equals the size of the unobservable portions of the playing field.

Behavior of Aimed Bullets

Donpachi error2.png

Patterns that are directly aimed at the player ship show a behavior of very often consistently missing their target. This aspect of aimed bullets can be exploited to the player's advantage, e.g. to find a safe spot on the first form of the 4th boss (due to the different x-axis positions of the ships' hitboxes, this safe spot only works with Type A and C but not with Type B). The inaccurate aim of the bullets is shown in the graphic on the right. Depending on the angle the bullet is fired at the player ship (the center of the image), the firing aim can be 1 tick extra clockwise (yellow), 2 ticks extra clockwise (red) or 1 tick extra counter-clockwise (cyan). Bullets fired from an angle marked in black hit the player directly.


For world record scores, please refer to the Hall of Records entry.


The central scoring mechanic of DonPachi is the Get Point System (GPS), which rewards the player with huge score by performing hit/kill chains upon enemies and the environment, in quick succession. The chaining in DonPachi is very strict, requiring that the player destroy another enemy or object within 0.5 seconds (30 frames) of the previous destroyed object. The only way the player can keep their chain from dropping is by destroying another enemy, unlike in later games in the series that provided additional ways to keep a chain going (e.g. connecting your laser to a midsize enemy). Because of this, DonPachi typically emphasizes collecting points from multiple, smaller chains instead of connecting one chain through an entire stage.

The scoring formula of the chain system looks as follows:

hit count * A + (hit count - 1) * B + (hit count - 2) * C + ... + 1 * Z

(whereas A, B, C, ... , Z are the base values of the enemies chained in successive order)

For example, a 3 Hit chain with the successive enemy base values of (A = 100), (B = 600), and (Z = 300), results in 1,800pts (3*100 + 2*600 + 1*300 = 1,800).

If the player were to destroy the same enemies but in a different order, this will also have an effect on the total score gain. With that in mind, destroying the previous enemies in the order of (A = 600), (B = 300), and (Z = 100) yields 2,500pts total (3*600 + 2*300 + 1*100 = 2,500). For this reason, it is more lucrative to destroy enemies with a higher base value as early on in the chain as possible.

Enemy point values

Main article: DonPachi/Enemy list

Bomb Capacity Bonus

One of the most important sources for score apart from the Chaining is the Capacity Bonus. While the player has not died and not increased their bomb capacity, the end stage Capacity Bonus increases for each stage. This increased Capacity Bonus value maxes out at 5 million, for every stage in the second loop. This bonus looks as follows:

Stage Capacity Bonus
1-1 100,000
1-2 200,000
1-3 400,000
1-4 800,000
1-5 2,000,000
2-1 to 2-5 5,000,000

Once the player has died once, or increased their bomb capacity to 4 or more slots, the Capacity Bonus chain is disabled, resulting in a dramatically smaller bonus solely based on the number of bomb slots. The Capacity Bonus chain cannot be restarted once it has been broken. The "normal" capacity bonus values are as follows:

Bomb Slots Capacity Bonus
3 slots 100,000
4 slots 60,000
5 slots 40,000
6 slots 20,000
7 slots 0

Additional to the Capacity Bonus, the player is rewarded with 10,000pts per remaining bomb after the end of each stage. This bonus is consistent throughout the game unaffected by the number of deaths or bomb slots.

Bee Medals

There are 13 bees to collect in each stage, and collecting a bee icon awards the player points, with each collected bee in a stage awarding increased point gain. Unlike in later games of the series, this bonus does not carry over between stages.

Item bee medal.png
100 200 400 800 1,000 2,000 4,000 8,000 10,000 20,000 40,000 80,000 100,000

Therefore, the total point gain from all Bee Medals combined is 266,500 per stage and 2,665,000 over the course of the entire game.

If the player dies, the Bee Medal value resets back to 100.

The following maps show you the locations of the 13 bees for each of the stages.

Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 Stage 5

Item Collection

Star Items have to be uncovered on the ground (uncovering them contributes as a Hit for the Chain) and give 300pts each when picked up. Additionally, the player is rewarded with 1,000pts each for every Star Item collected at the end of a stage. The player is not rewarded with this end bonus if they have died after the collection of a Star Item.

Power-Up Items are worth 10,000pts if picked up when fully powered up. Similarly, Bomb Items are also worth 10,000pts when they are collected while the player has a full bomb stock.

Revenge Bullets

Although miniscule, an additional source of score gain is introduced in the second loop. Every spawned revenge bullet is worth 110 points. The different types of revenge bullets are all worth the same score each. If revenge bullets are sealed, for example, by staying close to the enemy, no points are rewarded.

End Game Bonus

Upon reaching the end of the second loop and destroying the True Last Boss, the player is rewarded with 1,000,000pts per remaining life and likewise the usual 10,000pts per remaining bomb.



There are four different PCB revisions for DonPachi.

Dp jpversion.png
Japan Version
The original version of DonPachi and the standard to play whether you're hunting for a 1cc or shoot for high scores.
Dp usaversion.png
US Version
A significantly easier version of the game. Much lower rank and the bombstock is fully refilled after each stage. Good for beginners.
Features English language text for the story.
Dp krversion.png
Korea Version
A version with presumably fewer tweaks. Rank seems to have no changes. The only documented difference is an easier final attack pattern for the first boss (both loops).
Likely to feature Korean language story, which is unfortunately only displayed as garbled Japanese text on Mame.
Dp hkversion.png
Hong Kong Version
Much more difficult version due to higher rank and a larger hitbox.
No intermission nor ending sequence.


Toaplan forever!
Toaplan is dead, long live CAVE!
  • The HIT count of the chain will be displayed on screen from 10 HITs onwards. The number will increase in size from 30 HITs onwards. To make the HIT display show the large font permanently, the player has to hold Up + Left and then press A + Start anywhere in the game during a run. This command has a purely cosmetic effect and does not affect the gameplay in any way. What this command also does is display your max hit chain count in your gp window as long as you're not actively chaining.
  • During an active chain, the HIT count will be displayed in red color. When you finish the chain with less than 50 HITs the counter will be blue. After a 50 to 99 HIT chain it will be green and a chain of 100 HITs or more will be displayed in yellow color after it ends.
  • The default ranking screen has a hidden message when the letters of the player's initials are read vertically across entries: TOAPLAN.FOREVER (shown on the left).
  • During the credits sequence after the second loop, Toaplan's mascot Pipiru can be spotted clinging onto the 1P side Type-A ship and then vanishing into goofiness (shown on the right).

References & Contributors

  1. Scoring info and formatting work provided by Plasmo.
  2. Basic info and formatting work provided by CHA-STG.
  3. Gifs for the ships taken from
  4. Bee maps provided by ptoing.
  5. Item sprites taken from
  6. Rank info based on messages by "smc" posted on Discord on August 18th and August 25th, 2020.
  7. Information on the behavior of aimed bullets incl. the graphical representation provided by Trap15 based on messages posted on Discord dated May 3rd, 2021.
  8. Higher damage output of Laser Bombs during movement originally found by "smc" and additionally confirmed by SMayfield.