Rolling Gunner (Switch) Review
Rolling Gunner Review
Release Date: June 20, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC
“Bullet Hell” shooters by default aren’t terribly inviting. Not to overuse a redundant phrase, but the “Dark Souls of shooters” is designed to challenge the hardest of hardcore. These kind of games involve an intricate dance of death: your (traditionally underpowered) ship is the only hope for humanity versus an unstoppable horde that throws a limitless amount of artillery your way and requires a delicate balance of dancing between bullets and making sure yours are making contact with the enemy as well. Rolling Gunner attempts to offer the traditional chaotic dance to the hardcore player whilst also offering some easier modes to ease players into the genre.
In the year 2061, humanity has fallen into complacency, relying on an artificial intelligence known as BAC, humanity has become complacent. They’re so used to automation, they’ve completely forgotten basic weapons and transportation. I’m not sure if ultimate AI and utter reliance on it could happen in the next 42 years, but hey, that’s the story. Regardless, a scant few people have formed a resistance and are fighting back. Obviously, the best answer to a worldwide catastrophe where thousands of robots are ready to lay waste to the final scraps of human kind is to send a single, very fragile fighter jet in to take on the horde.
Basic action in most Bullet Hell games involves taking your ship through a maze of flying projectiles whilst hurtling some back at your opponents. Rolling Gunner has a decent sized ship, but your “hitbox” consists of a small green dot that you have to ensure doesn’t get hit by the millions of purple blasts coming your way. Different combinations will cause a spare “rolling gunner” that follows your ship to lock in a specific direction or “roll” around your ship based on how your ship is moving. Also, you have a limited number of bombs that you can actively blast yourself or will auto-blow when you are going to be hit, the equivalent of a “life” that completely clears the screen of projectiles.
Rolling Gunner attempts to allow a more casual crowd by having some easier game modes. They’re still “Bullet Hell” but they are a little more welcoming to people unfamiliar with the genre. Hardcore gamers will be able to go straight to “normal mode” or harder for the traditional experience.
Where Rolling Gunner looks to differentiate itself is how you power up. When destroying enemies, special emblems drop, but they literally drop off the screen. You only collect the ones you are close enough to pull in. Collecting enough emblems allows you to basically trade a bomb option for an extended super-powered blaster shot. This means that you are more focused on maneuvering around the screen toward your enemies instead of dodging the bullets safely at the edge of the screen.
I’ve not played a lot of Bullet Hell style games, but I do have a few points of contention for Rolling Gunner. Your extra blaster circles around your ship, basically rotating around like you are dragging it. This could have been linked to the secondary analog stick for tighter control instead of forcing you to nudge in a direction just to re-aim your weaponry as bullets whiz all around you. Speaking of the bullets, they overwhelm. Once I got used to it I could see the patterns and weave around them, but note the game has a habit of throwing a slow pattern at you and then blasting a fast one right at the end and throwing your rhythm off. I also would love to have some controller customization as all buttons are delegated oddly to Y, ZL, and ZR. Your mileage may vary depending on whether you’re after a high score or just wanting to see the whole game, but there are infinite continues. This welcomes newbies to the genre, but I’ll admit that I could potentially use three continues on one boss alone. It kind of killed the thrill for me knowing I can just mash a continue button instead of being forced to learn the intricate patterns.
Overall, Rolling Gunner can offer a challenge to Bullet Hell fans and also welcome newcomers to the genre. Even on easy the game can be overwhelming but the infinite continues allow new gamers to get the full experience without a Dark Souls “Git Gud” attitude.
-Great combination of traditional Bullet Hell and introductory experience
-Infinite continues for newcomers to enjoy and pros to ignore
-Bright, colorful levels underneath the myriad projectiles
-New gameplay attitude forces you to get up close and personal with enemies
-I’d prefer some options on controls, such as button mapping or using the second analog stick
-Some deaths feel cheap and unfair thanks to the sudden blasts after a slow pattern shot
Special thanks to mebius. And Mastiff for providing a code for review!