Exceed – Gun Bullet Children was a game that was originally released in 2005 in Japan. It did not get an official US release until 2012 when it, along with its two sequels, were published by Capcom and released on Steam and Desura. All three games in the series had their release on March 29th 2012. The first game in the eXceed series, eXceed Gun Bullet Children, was actually designed by a different developer then the second and third games in the series. It is easy to tell this based on how Gun Bullet Children plays when compared to its sequel. While I have yet to play the third game as of the time this is being written, I have played the second game and can make comparisons between the two. The main difference is that Gun Bullet Children is much more difficult and simplistic than Vampire REX. Generally I would be quicker to point to eXceed 2nd Vampire REX for a recommendation than I would Gun Bullet Children, but the latter is still a good game in its own right, and for $3.00, it is worth checking out.
The first thing that one would notice when starting up Gun Bullet Children is that the story mode dialogue has not been translated. On one hand, the story is not exactly the main draw of a bullet hell shooter, but on the other hand, the game’s Steam page lists “3 playable characters with individual storylines.” This means that this feature is rendered pointless for non Japanese speakers. It should be worth mentioning that the second game did have the in game text translated, so it makes no sense why this game was not translated when all three games in the trilogy were released on the same day. I guess the character art and voice acting is decent but there is not much context to really base it on due to the lack of any English text.
Graphics wise, the game is pretty simplistic. Gun Bullet Children has the same basic look that one would expect from any Danmaku shooter and it doesn’t set itself apart very much. The same few enemy designs are used a lot and the bosses are a lot smaller then what is typical of games in this genre. The projectiles are all red balls and arrows, and the only real noteworthy thing about them is that there are a lot on screen. The sound effects are placed appropriately enough to give off their desired effect. The music is good enough to give off the appropriate mood but not necessarily good enough that one will remember it outside of the game.
While the game may not have much of a look to it, Gun Bullet Children is still a decently well designed game. There are only five stages but there is no way in hell you can expect to beat this game on your first try. Gun Bullet Children is a game that you can better at through a bit of practice and some amount of memorization. You basically play it until you can think of certain strategies to perform against bosses or specific enemies instead of simply rushing in while holding the fire button. It should be noted, however, that Gun Bullet Children is that type of game that one will just get good at naturally and when thinking about it, will be surprised that they were actually able to perform this well.
Probably the aspect that exemplifies this is just how much precision is needed to dodge the amount of bullets on screen. In this game, you will actually need to maneuver in between the large amounts of bullets as well as predicting the trajectory of them. It should be noted that most Danmaku/Bullet Hell shooters compensate for the fact that there are so many projectiles by making your main character’s hit box incredibly small. Gun Bullet Children is no exception. The exact center of your character is marked by a sparkle, and generally one can tell that this is the area to keep from getting hit.
Generally the game follows the pattern of surviving to the end of the level, trying to increase your score in order to earn extra lives, beating the multi-staged boss at the end, and then moving on to the next. There are the typical features that one would expect such as being able to use a screen clearing ability three times per each life, and having an even stronger ability that you can use once you have done enough damage with regular shots. There is one problem with the latter power in that it is triggered by pressing the fire button, so if you stop holding in the button and press it again, it will trigger the ability regardless of whether you wanted to or not.
One useful feature that Gun Bullet Children provides is the ability to have your character move in slow motion while holding down the X button. This is helpful because it allows you to easily maneuver through tight spaces without accidentally overshooting the distance you intended to move. This feature can also provide an advantage in that it doubles the damage rate of your shot while you are in this mode. This adds an element of strategy by making the player know when they should use the slow down feature and when it is necessary to get somewhere else faster.
Gun Bullet Children is not a very complex game. Chances are, if you played any other Danmaku shooter before then you know what to expect. There is nothing particularly special about Gun Bullet Children but it is a fun title nonetheless. The game is fast paced, intense, and requires competence out of the player, and it provides an intense experience while it lasts. There is a bit of replay value in that the three characters you have play differently, but in reality, things only change slightly and most will not even decide they need to beat it with more than one character. Ultimately I can say that Gun Bullet Children is worth the asking price, but it isn’t a must play by any means.
This review was originally posted to GameFAQs on July 24th of 2014 and has since been re-edited with enhanced presentation.
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