Posted: Wednesday - July 7, 2010
Definition: Bullet Hell - (genre) A Japanese gaming sub-genre (of the shoot-em-up family) that is a tribute to a lineage of games such as Ikaruga, Gradius, Radiant Silvergun where there are so many bullets on screen that deft maneuvering, timing and skill are your only allies... While punishing those with poor reflexes with a swift and painful death via a rain of enemy fire.
Rockin' Android (per their About Us page) was founded in 2008 to fill a unique void in the PC market place of untapped entertainment. That form of entertainment being Japanese independent games ("Indie" games for short). This gives unique Japanese indie developers a chance to shine with a bigger audience without being glossed over and overshadowed with major titles. One of the biggest Japanese indie scene movements has been the "bullet hell" genre which combines Moe characters, killer artwork, tons of bullets, awesome music for a unique remix of nostalgia. (Note: Moe definition found here via Wikipedia.) Some of you may have seen Rockin' Android's translated and published games advertised on websites like Direct2Drive and Gamer's Gate. Their most prominent work is probably the Suguri Perfect Edition for PC which contains Suguri, Acceleration of Suguri, and Acceleration of Suguri X-Edition developed by Orange_Juice.
I had the honor of meeting the CEO of Rockin' Android, Mr. Enrique Galvez, at A-Kon Dallas on June 5th, 2010. At their booth, they had a PlayStation 3 with a soon-to-be released version of their newest release project: The Gundemonium Collection by Platine Dispositif. It was released for PC on June 1st, 2010 while coming soon to PlayStation 3. Mr. Galvez had mentioned Sony was trying to embrace the love for unique games... From Sony's renewed stance, they were going to see about trying to push for more releases via the PlayStation Network Store (PSN Store for short). At the time I had spoken to Mr. Galvez, he had said that the Gundemonium Collection was approved for sale and it would be debuting to the PSN Store on June 15th, 2010... That date has come. Courtesy of Rockin' Android, I was provided with a reviewer's copy for PlayStation Network to share with you my thoughts on this splendid collection.
Visuals - Score: 4.5
The style is very old style 2D. The protagonists are plenty cute and funny seeing them wielding killer machine guns or lasers. Who can say "no" to cute protagonists with awesome guns, bomb spells, and mana spells?! The explosions are nice and the bullets are pretty varied in style depending on the enemy you're attacking. Each game in the collection looks great, but Hitogata Happa gets the biggest honor of looking the best on the visual front.
Sound - Score: 4.5
The music is pretty good and gets you amped to go shoot down hordes of enemies. The bullets do have some differentiation between each type being fired at you. The boss battle music and the warning drone before the bosses get you psyched to go and just own a boss. I can see why a soundtrack was bundled for PC buyers!
Control - Score: 4.5
The controls are very tight and can be reconfigured to your preferences. Just know that if you do choose to configure them differently that the "How to Play" options in each of these games will not apply. The ability to slow your movements in Gundemonium Recollection and GundeadliGne is great for fast characters if you want to be able to slowly and precisely weave through bullets is great! The rapid fire buttons present in both Gundemonium Recollection and GundeadliGne are (personally) pointless to me, but they may be there for a reason. I find that the standard fire button pelts out plenty of bullets. Hitogata Happa is pretty much more a game of finesse and skill... so there's minimal buttons to configure.
Gameplay - Score: 5
If you were like me and a total junkie for these sorts of games... You will love every aspect of them. The ability to weave through bullets and get bonus points for coming close to death is awesome. The ability to bomb out and escape from being pinned against a wall was just spectacular! Mana abilities to help slowdown bullets to help evasion is awesome too! Hitogata Happa gets even more honors from the unique game play with the suicide doll mechanic. Add in the ability to record replays, take screenshots and even upload replays to YouTube and it helps a novice player get better by being able to watch the patterns of enemies and their bullets.
Fun - Score: 4
The games are great but I can see why some may get burned out from them. Even at novice difficulty, the games are no joke. They may even overwhelm some people. I can say I have plenty of fun just trying to see if I can take down a boss without using bombs or if I can trigger a Demonic Drive and live to tell the tale of the onslaught I am about to take on.
Addiction - Score: 4.5
The addiction is very high. Nothing like dying at a boss battle, saving the replay and just learning their bullet pattern while having a eureka moment on how to beat them easier! Add in the PlayStation Network trophies and score rankings, you have a formula for competition and potential trash talk in the making! The replays make for potential bragging rights if you have a killer run and want to share with the world your awesome skills.