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The complete flood of bullets in these games can be overwhelming at first. Here are some tips to help you get better at dodging them.
Learn the hitboxes
Danmaku games specialize in using visual distraction to confuse the player. The main component for this is the hitbox, which is almost always smaller than the actual sprite. This applies to both your character and the bullets. Experience will show you just how close you can get to a bullet without fear.
Thankfully, the later games have introduced a picture to show the character's hitbox, so the guessing of the earlier games is less prominent. Even when the actual hitbox isn't visible (during unfocused movement), there usually are visual clues on the character's sprite that can give you a more-or-less precise idea of the hitbox's whereabouts.
Use the whole screen
There is a tendency for new players to hug the bottom of the screen to try and get as much response time as possible. The problem with this is that you restrict yourself to only one dimension, left and right. Many advanced patterns require the use of the second dimension to successfully escape, and the only way you'll figure these out is if you are comfortable with the idea of using the whole screen.
The point of collection helps erase this tendency, but you should still make an effort to stay off the bottom during bosses.
Streaming, or herding, is the basic principle of controlling bullets in danmaku shooters. The majority of the enemy shots are aimed directly at you, so by standing still, you're effectively luring the enemies to shoot at the spot you're in. To take advantage of this, move as little as possible so that you can gather all aimed bullets in one tight stream slowly following you from one side. This way, you can dodge most of the incoming bullet bursts with just a small tap away from the stream, giving yourself more freedom to move in case of emergency.
To change the direction of the herd, do a quick move away from the stream (called "jerk" or "cutback") to make an opening, wait a bit to let the enemies readjust their aim to your new location, then proceed streaming to the opposite direction. It is advised to make cutbacks perpendicular to the stream source to increase the size of the opening (i.e., if the majority of the bullets are shot from the center of the screen, and you're streaming from left to right, cutback diagonally towards the top-right corner of the screen). If you're doing it right, the opening will be large enough to let you go through, no matter how dense the bullet stream is.
The more experienced you get, the more calm and confident you become about the streams and going through openings. As such, the technique becomes the key to evading most aimed attacks; danmaku shooters developed by Cave popularised the U-shaped movement pattern based entirely around streaming and doing cutbacks at the edges of the screen to be able to survive the bullet onslaught during the stages.
This technique is the key to getting many graze points from any streamable attack.
Sadly, this is a necessary skill to get good at all games. While there is enough randomization to keep it interesting, learning the general flow of the patterns is essential for success, particularly in the Extra stages.
Memorization is especially prevalent if you're doing scoreruns as opposed to playing for survival, since scoring systems in games like Perfect Cherry Blossom and Mountain of Faith require you to remember the correct bombing locations and enemy appearance timing to succeed.
Expand your visual range
Don't focus on just your character and the boss marker on the bottom. Try to look at a greater area, so you can read more bullets and try to determine their paths. With enough practice, you should be able to interpret the bullets around you and figure out the best way to move.
Combined with effective use of streaming, you can safely observe the whole screen and react accordingly. Certain players also advise looking at your shot to determine the precise horizontal position without having to look directly at the character.
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