Apart from the so-so Nanostray, there haven’t been any other vertical shooters of note for the DS, which is odd given the screen orientation and the popularity of the genre in Japan. Danny Phantom just so happens to be an old fashioned shooter, which may surprise you, being based on a Nickelodeon license and all. Another thing that may came as a surprise is that developers Altron have nabbed Ikaruga’s bullet absorbing polarity system.
To wit: the enemies – badly animated ghosts, mostly – fire red and blue bullets, which ghost hunter Danny can use to fill up a power bar if his glowing bodily aura is the colour of the projectiles. No damage is received if Danny is the same colour. The system hasn’t been implemented as masterfully as in Treasure’s seminal shooter though, mainly due to the fact that being hit by a bullet only makes a tiny dent in your health.
At the start of the game only three powers – invisibility, a giant boomerang and a ghost vacuum – are available, with another six becoming unlocked as the story – which involves giant plants overtaking the city – unfolds. Danny can also charge up shots and swap between homing, piercing and laser rounds. In short, there’s a fair bit of firepower to play around with, although there aren’t any tactical elements and it’s far too tempting to use homing missiles for the duration.
The cut-scenes feature 3D backdrops which look impressive, but as they’re only cut-scenes they are nothing but eye-candy. During the game there are some 3D objects to avoid crashing into too, but they could have easily been 2D sprites. The touch screen is also at waste – you can use it to change powers, but the trigger button performs the same action without the fuss of having to have your stylus poised. The only reason to have a stylus ready is for activating the health packs that quickly accumulate. And why is Danny so small? He’s only about three pixels tall.