This is how a shoot 'em up sequel ought to be done. Dodonpachi is basically Donpachi with everything that made it good intact and everything that prevented it from being great removed or revamped. In about the shortest way possible; awesome.
The gameplay from the original, which was not broken, is brought back nearly untouched. It has the same scoring system, the uber-laser and even the same three ships. Dodonpachi must also be played twice in one sitting to get the real end boss (which is one of the coolest bosses ever) and ending, just like Donpachi. The only major change is the fact that this sequel is roughly ten million times MORE manic. And the first one was pretty manic! From the non-stop barrage of plane and tank formations to the bosses that take up half the screen or more, the odds are heavily against you every second of play and at first it is downright frightening. It is kind of hard to explain why exactly, but it will become apparent in time that this is a very well constructed game rather than something that was just haphazardly thrown together. Not that it ever becomes easy, but your task is a feasible one. It is just really hard; and a blast.
Not everything stayed the same. The two games may have been released only about a year apart, but the sequel looks around five years younger and is on par with what could be expected out of the Saturn. Still a little pixilated, but a huge improvement that is especially noticeable when comparing the end bosses. The one in Dodonpachi really looks like something that can and will kill you with hesitation or much effort. Even more welcome is the overhaul of the sound. The music, while still not great, actually adds to the experience this time around. The gung-ho male voice was thankfully replaced by a more subdued female one. There still is no need for any voice-overs, but at least this one is easier to ignore.
Dodonpachi is at times heralded as the greatest shooter of all time. It is not quite that good, but is up there. Intense and repayable even for a shooter, this game is one that every fan should at least try.