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Dai Sen Pu Reviewed by Adam Romano on . Rating: 57%
Dai Sen Pu
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  • Review Score:

  • C+
Trying to review a shoot-em-up is like trying to explain a knock-knock joke. Most people already know the premise and the format rarely changes. How much can one say about moving a sprite across a scrolling backdrop while shooting at other moving sprites? It's basic math: x (enemy sprite) plus negative x (projectile) equals zero (explosion).

Dai Sen Pu ("Great Swirling Wind") does very little to change the old formula, and so it does not show up on anyone's shortlist of great shooters. But this is not to say that the game isn't interesting. In fact, the game is a little too interesting if you look at it closely enough.

This World-War-II-styled shooter is standard fare with a few anomalies. Unlike 1943, P-17, and Strikers 1945, there are absolutely no airborne enemies. Your enemy, whoever it is, cannot afford a counter air strike. So, essentially, you strafe your way past tanks, ships, and stationary anti-aircraft turrets, and since everything is a few hundred meters beneath you, never will need to concern yourself with mid-air collisions. Additionally, your enemies are also nice enough not to approach you from behind (with the exception of two small boats). Most enemies you can disable without destroying, which saves you on effort even if you lose a few points.

Your special attack summons six wingmen to flank your craft, each resembling a Mitsubishi Zero with its wings sweeping slightly forward toward a single engine propeller. Once your flight formation is set, your spread of fire covers the majority of the screen and much of your success will depend on when you decide to call upon these powerful reinforcements.

Now for the weird and noteworthy part. If you hit the special attack button again, each of your remaining wingmen will crash themselves into enemy aircraft, obliterating themselves and their targets. Considering that this game comes out of Japan, this seems woefully inappropriate. It is therefore not surprising that Dai Sen Pu didn't make it way to the U.S., the country that suffered the worst losses in World War II from kamikaze attacks (estimated at 26 sunk ships in total).

Maybe the programmers didn't see the improper nature of their special attack feature, but even the game's title hints at a connection to the infamous suicide pilots of the East. The "pu" of Dai Sen Pu means "wind" and is represented by a very specific kanji character. This character can also be pronounced as "kaze" - the second half of the word "kamikaze" ("divine wind"). So, in essence, the game could also be pronounced "Dai Sen Kaze" which gives it a more obvious historical connotation to the average gamer.

Westerners have often been critical of Japanese schoolbooks that gloss over their country's role in WWII, claiming the texts give slight treatment to their people as aggressors in favor of showing them primarily as victims by focusing on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Recently however, Japanese artists, teachers, and intellectuals, have also been critical of Japan's selective memory, and recently some have been more vocal in honestly examining their country's role in the conflict. One writer, Masayuki Imai, wrote a play, "The Winds of God," because, in his own words, "the subject of kamikaze was forbidden" in school. Perhaps the creators of this simple video game also felt a desire to address this taboo subject; in this case, they may have subtly inserted these sacrificial planes into the game as either homage or as criticism. We may never know without further study.

Dai Sen Pu was released in Europe for the Sega Mega Drive under the name Twin Hawk, but I doubt that it the game will ever surface on the Wii's Virtual Console under either name. Not only is it an average shooter, it may cause a bit of controversy.
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