Review by John Hellier
Well here’s a turn up for the books, a review by me that isn’t a visual novel. Do not adjust your sets folks, normal service will resume shortly…
Rolling Gunner is a bullet hell shooter brought to us by Mebius, and is my first foray into the genre. Oh sure I’ve played 2d shooters before, I have fond memories of R-Type and Sol-Feace (yeah, I’m old and apparently hipster). So upon starting Running Gunner I thought I knew what I was in for. Needless to say, I wasn’t prepared at all.
After picking out my ship, from a choice of 3 palette swapped models I was taken to the tutorial. Stick to move, Y to shoot, Rz to shoot in a different manner. So far so good, although I was a bit iffy about the drone that does half the shooting moving around the ship as I moved. That’s what makes Rolling Gunner different (as far as I can tell, I’m a newbie when it comes to these games, don’t @ me).
Basically the story is this. New element found, evil corporation uses it to take over, you are humanity’s last hope, utilising a new weapon that can defeat the enemy, which takes the form of a trailing drone. Now why the drone couldn’t go in by itself isn’t explained, but the whole story is told in a few text dumps at the start of the game and then forgotten about.
So yeah, back on point, as you move around the screen, the drone moves to fire in the opposite direction. Move down, it fires up etc. This took me a little while to get used to, but eventually I was carving up enemies from both sides of the screen at once. Luckily, one of the firing modes locks the drone in position for accurate(ish) aiming, meaning when the big baddies come out to play, you can focus fire on them.
So far, so R-Type. But this was my downfall, because when the first boss appeared I was used to simple dodging and shooting, but within seconds the screen was filled with projectiles and I was instantly shredded. This was when the term “Bullet Hell” hit home for me, but after gritting my teeth and a little luck I started to get in to the groove. Then after several continues I finally managed to finish level 1. I swear I have never worked at Polygon…
So is Rolling Gunner an enjoyable game then? Yes…and no. There are some technical hitches, mainly slow down when the number of projectiles on screen gets too high. This is strangely a blessing and a curse, as it makes picking a path through the insane amount of glowing orbs easier, it also means when the said orbs fly off the screen the lag disappears, making dodging the last few trickier due to throwing off the rhythm. This wasn’t game breaking to me, but given how the main purpose is chasing the highest score possible, it might get annoying in time. Plus, with only 6 levels and 3 ships, there is not much variety to be had. Again, not so bad for score chasers I suppose, as less variables make the score more to do with skill rather than load out etc.
Which brings me back to the question is Rolling Gunner fun. I had a mostly good time with it, apart from the technical hitches and my dulled reactions from old age and lack of practice, but I’d recommend it as a quick blast game. Play for 20 minutes or so every now and then, unless you’re fixated on being number one, in which case good luck to you.
Over all score 6/10
A good counter point for those who say games are getting easier and easier as time goes on.