Game: 99 Bullets
Genre: 2D Retro Shooter
System: Nintendo DSiWare (DSI/3DS)
Review by: MrB4
Remember the good old days when all you needed in order to survive an onslaught of enemies in a top down shooter was an unlimited amount of ammo and decent reflexes? Lives were more like chances than an actual health bar, and worrying about every shot you took was an afterthought. Apparently, the folks who made this DSiWare game 99 Bullets have decided to change things up a little bit to add a level of freshness to the genre that has never been seen before. Welcome to a world where bullets and life are one and the same, and keeping track of them is a very difficult, yet extremely fun thing to do.
Gameplay: Take any arcade shooter from back in the day (galaga, space invaders, etc.), attach a unique puzzle element to it in the form of limited ammo, and that about sums up how this game is played. Things start off simple enough, survive a level all the way to the end, shoot down enough enemies to earn the highest score possible to unlock the next stage, and that’s about it. Eventually, you will find out that conserving ammunition ends up being more of a priority than anything else, especially considering that it serves as your life meter in addition to how many shots can be fired. This is where things take an interesting turn, because now players are required to use a little more common sense to figure things out.
What’s so cool about this new idea is that it turns your everyday top down shooter into a puzzle game with shooting elements attached to it. Not everything requires destruction, and sometimes taking as few shots as possible could leave just enough bullets left to make it through some of the harder sections of particular levels. The controls are easy to understand, and also allow the player to fire and move in four different directions, which is much appreciated considering that enemies can fly in from just about anywhere on the screen. Boss fights are fun and challenging, but tend to rely more on reflexes than anything else. A practice mode, local leaderboards, and three different difficulty levels add a decent amount of replay value to the overall experience as well.
Graphics: About as old school as it gets for games like this. Level designs and enemy types consist mainly of geometric shapes, animations are limited, but are acceptable for what they set out to do, and the color palette is made up of very bright neon colors. All of this works out in a good way, and leads to a presentation that although very basic, is also very easy on the eyes, and when there is alot of action occuring on the screen at once, this tends to be a wise choice.
Sound: The soundtrack mainly consists of very intense techno beats that seem to fit each situation appropriately. Sound effects are adequate, and despite the fact that your gun sounds like a pea shooter, everything else sounds just like it should.
Wishes or Changes: A save feature would have been nice to have, especially for some of the harder levels in the game, but since an arcade vibe was what the developers were going for, I guess I can let that one slide. Also, with any title that has a high score function built into it, having an online leaderboard feature to show off those high scores to friends should have at least been considered to give 99 Bullets a little more staying power. Aside from these little quirks, nothing else about the game needs to be changed in my opinion.
TQ Bottom Line: 99 Bullets is not for everyone, and may turn off fans of the old school shoot em up at first with its unique concept, but those who decide to stick around will without a doubt find a rewarding experience that encourages some creative thinking instead of mindless killing. This is a definite purchase for people who welcome a change of pace from the tride and true in the games that they play.
Final Score: 3.5 out of 5 Michelas!
Developer: EnjoyUp Games
Publisher: EnjoyUp Games
MSRP: 500 DSiWare Points ($4.99)