Bullet Soul Review
A staple of 90s-era arcades worldwide, the shoot-em-up genre makes a return with the Steam release of 5pb and MAGES’ Bullet Soul. Packing more bullets than a NRA convention, does this danmaku soothe your itchy trigger finger?
Bullet Soul Review
Those who have played a shoot-em-up (or shmup) game will know what to expect with Bullet Soul. You pick your ship, you upgrade your weaponry with power-ups, you utilize bombs, and you shoot and destroy everything in sight. However, Bullet Soul’s got a hook. If you want to beat the game on one credit and not quarter feed your way through things, playing offensively is the way to go. There are two different firing modes in Bullet Soul, with one firing straight and another firing in a more wide pattern. After defeating an enemy, the wave of bullets suddenly disappear. When there is fire coming from more than 10 different sources, this can be an absolute godsend. It’s quite the change from more defensive shmups like Ikaruga, and it’s not as deep, but the bright lights and cheesy 90s-era tunes drive you to push through guns-a-blazing.
To help you on your journey in the main mode, players can take control of one of three ships. Players can choose between a lock-on type, a more traditional shot type, or a unique laser type. Some offer a more distinct advantage than others, but are different enough to warrant multiple playthroughs. There are also bonuses that can be racked up, including ones for not missing and secret ones for taking out certain spots. Those looking for a high score will have fun scaling the online leaderboards.
It’s just a shame that there’s not a lot to do. The main game can be completed in around an hour, though a second loop of a game leads to a new boss. There is also Bancho Mode (which is more score-driven), Caravan Mode (which gives players two minutes to score as many points as possible), and Version B (which includes a grappler-style fourth ship and adjusted game balance). These modes aren’t terribly different from one another though, and players will no doubt be begging for online co-op or something more.
The localization of the game could use some work as well. The very brief cutscene at the end isn’t translated, punctuation and grammar is off at times, and things like credits are left in Japanese. It feels at times like this was a quick port, rather than one that was polished.
Bullet Soul takes liberal notes from classic 90s shooters like Raiden, putting the focus on firing and dodging bullets. Though it lacks the depth and replayabilty of classics like Ikaruga or Radiant Silvergun, players looking to rise the leaderboards will enjoy blasting through waves of alien scum.