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DonPachi 首領蜂

Logo DonPachi 3x.png
Screenshot DonPachi 001.png

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 (by Toaplan), 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 primary VO 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 ports of DonPachi are considered inferior to the PCB / arcade version of the game, and are typically not played for score.)

DonPachi was followed up with DoDonPachi in 1997, leaving CAVE's mark on the shooting game world.


Gameplay Overview

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DonPachi is a three-button shooter (although the C button is turned off by default, and can be enabled in the dipswitches in service mode).

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, Taisabachi. There are no requirements for entering the loop or fighting the TLB.


  • 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: Releases a Bomb, clearing the screen of bullets and dealing massive damage to enemies on screen
    • When pressing B by itself, the player will release a Spread Bomb, which damages everything on screen
    • When pressing B while holding A, the player will release a Laser Bomb, which fires a massive laser blast from the ship that deals extremely high damage to anything in its path
  • C: Auto-fire for the player's standard 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 ships in Donpachi.


There are two types of bombs, Spread Bombs (press B while not lasering) and Laser Bombs (press B while lasering). Laser Bombs do particular damage to bosses so they are highly recommended here for survival players.

From the start the player holds 3 bomb slots. With every 3 bombs used, the bomb display is extended 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 number. These extra bombs only fill up the existing slots. If a player already has a full stock, no extra bombs will be added.

Stage Extra bombs
1-1 & 2-1 1
1-2 & 2-2 2
1-3 & 2-3 3
1-4 & 2-4 4
1-5 5

In the US version of DonPachi the player will always be rewarded with a full bomb stock regardless of the stage cleared.


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


Extra Lives

There are two extra lives to be gained in DonPachi.

  1. By reaching 2,000,000pts 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 item appear.

Note: The building only holds the extra life in stage 1-4. There is no extra life here to be found in 2-4. Therefore, the maximum number of lives in stock is 4.

Hidden Bomb Items

Fulfilling certain conditions, there is a handful of hidden bomb items to be found. This is particularly relevant to survival players.

  • Destroy the two hoverboats in stage 3 only after they have come to a halt for one bomb each. This works on both loops.
  • Destroy the green midsized enemies towards the end of stage 2-2 with shot instead of bomb. If done correctly, each of the enemies will drop a bomb item for a total of 3 extra bombs. [loop 2 only]
  • Destroy the two hatches to the left and right side of the 2-3 boss with shot instead of bomb for one extra bomb item each. [loop 2 only]



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.

Bomb Capacity Bonus

One of the most important sources for score apart from the Chaining is the Capacity Bonus. When the player does not lose a single life and has not used more than two bombs overall throughout the whole game, they are rewarded with a gradually-increasing Capacity Bonus after each stage. 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

If the player has died once or bombed a third time, the Capacity Bonus is dramatically decreased and a much smaller bonus is rewarded solely based on the number of bomb slots. This bonus is 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

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:

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100 200 400 800 1,000 2,000 4,000 8,000 10,000 20,000 40,000 80,000 100,000

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

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.

End Game Bonus

Upon reaching the end of the second loop and destroying Taisabachi, the player is rewarded with 1,000,000pts per remaining life and 10,000pts per remaining bomb.



  • In DonPachi, 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 actual gameplay in any way.

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. Item sprites taken from