Bouncy Bullets – Xbox One Review
Welcome to a surreal world where you jump between garishly coloured high platforms that rise out of a calm pink sea, surrounded by large floating candies, doughnuts and ice-cream cornets. Bouncy Bullets is a 3D platformer that has you speeding through stages as fast as possible to reach the vortex that transports you to the next level. Complete each level quick enough and you’re rewarded with a 3 star rating. There is no real story to link the 42 levels split into 3 chapters, and indeed no real themes that link things together, just a mix of different obstacles and platforms. There are also special versions of all the levels that offer you the same terrain, but with extra hazards that make it much more of a challenge.
The gimmick that gives the game its title, is that to get rid of enemies (that are shooting at you), you fire square projectiles from your gun, that bounce off objects. Hit RT to fire purple bullets, which kill purple enemies, and LT to fire yellow bullets, to , you’ve guessed it, kill the yellow enemies. There are also black enemies, which can only be killed bullets that bounce before hitting the target. All these enemies are static column shapes with faces on, so the trick is to keep moving as your fire at them as once you are with range and in sight, they will be firing a bullet at you every couple of seconds. There are also similar looking hostage blocks, which are grey, so don’t get trigger happy as shooting them results in an instant loss of the level. The design of the enemies is minimal in the extreme, and I’m sure more could be done to portray them as something more than an oblong block with eyes and a smile drawn on one side.
As well as the bullet shooting enemies and the drops into the water if you don’t nail your jumps, theres are plenty of other things that can end your level prematurely and send you back to the start, get too close to a buzz saw and its game over, there are moving laser beams to avoid and areas of spikes that you need to jump over. Step on the red buttons to be catapulted into the air, usually to reach a high platform. These are often linked together, which requires excellent timing to nail all the jumps in different directions and in one chain. I rarely managed it on the first attempt (and second or third) as the awkward control mechanic makes it difficult to accurately judge direction and distance.
Graphically the look is minimalist with bright colour schemes on objects that make them stand out nicely against basic sky and sea backgrounds. The movement takes a little bit of getting used to as moving and jumping doesn’t have pinpoint accuracy, and you often have to check a little slide after landing a jump to stop yourself falling off a platform. This lack of control in movement is the only real challenge in the game, as the route to the finish is always easy to work out which isn’t really the balance for a satisfying gaming experience. To win you end up trying to beat the dodgy controls rather than trying to beat the ingenuity of the level design.
As we’ve come to expect from all the output from developer Ratalaika Games lately, the full Gamerscore of 100G is very easy to achieve. If you don’t make any errors, all the achievements can be harvested in well under an hour, but its unlikely that’s going to happen. However, the average gamer, even having to restart levels quite a few times, shouldn’t take much longer than a couple of hours to complete all 12 achievements. You don’t have to complete the game, just conquer the first 25 levels, as well as 6 special levels and its job done.
Bouncy Bullets reflects the low purchase price by giving you a game that’s very short on gameplay. The visuals might be very bright and colourful, the music jaunty, but the fun is spoiled by the poor controls. Your times for each level are saved so you can go back and try to beat them in a speed run, but once you have gained your full gamerscore I don’t think Bouncy Bullets holds enough appeal entice you back for numerous replays.
Developer: Petite Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Huge Thanks to Ratalaika games for the review copy.