Originally released in 2018 on PC, Rolling Gunner is a horizontally scrolling bullet hell shooter. Now available on PS4 bundled with the Over Power DLC, this is easily one of the best shmups on the console. It is also available on Switch.
There is a lot of story here, especially for a shooter, and it is told through detailed animated cutscenes. If these story sequences were omitted entirely, it would still be the exact same game but proves the developer, Mebius, put their heart and soul into this one.
Simply put, Rolling Gunner is a pure blast, one that shooter fans simply cannot miss. This PS4 release has two options: the original mode or the same game but with Over Power DLC enabled.
The original mode is more challenging because the orbiting pod around your ship moves in the opposite direction of your direct movement. For example, if you move right, the pod will move left and shoot behind you. If you go up, it will go down and shoot down. So you only kinda sorta have direct control over it. However, when holding a button, you can lock it into place. Then taking it another step further, players have the ability to unleash a spread shot that covers more area and the ship moves faster, or you can condense the fire power but move slower. With the gameplay so fast paced, you’ll need all the options at your disposal and the screen can literally be filled with the pink and purple bullets at any and all times.
There is also the bomb mechanic. If there is enough juice in the tank, taking a hit will unleash a bomb and kill everything within your immediate area, essentially acting as one extra layer of defense. Then, the powered up mode turns damage given into score-increase medals. In order to collect these medals, you need to be close or they will fall off screen. So do you risk being close to your enemies to grab that score boost? Or hang back to survive but without reward?
The Over Power mode, the additional gameplay option, gives the player significantly more control over the ship and controllable pod with twin-stick controls. This means you can aim in any direction, at any time, with ease. Then, there is also the buster shot which can be set to auto-fire (which is the way to go for sure) and negates any incoming bullets, basically clearing a path of fire. This buster shot is on a cool down timer so it can only be shot every few seconds but it makes a world of difference. Personally, I enjoy the Over Power mode over the original but each has its own flavor. It is actually amazing how the exact same game can feel so new and exciting by only changing the control scheme.
As I said in my stream embedded in this article, Rolling Gunner is super fun because it pits the player against impossible odds but the player still has all the tools needed to survive and fight back. You are horribly outnumbered and the screen can actually be filled with more bullets than anything. But your dinky ship has the ability to kick tons of butt and without mercy which always feels so good. Also, this is a shooter that does not have any power-ups. Instead, the player has all the abilities and features from the first second of gameplay and never once did I think I needed, or wanted, something else. The consistency with the bullets, how they all have the color scheme, makes it easy to distinguish friend from foe.
There is a lot to love about this cleverly created shooter but there just a couple things that were rather heartbreaking with such a quality product. First is the leaderboard system. After completing my run, my high score didn’t get registered to the online scoring system. Most shooters are score-based so not being able to compete score-wise with other players is a mega bummer. I am hoping I just encountered a strange bug or perhaps a patch will tighten things up in the future. Also, perhaps more upsetting, is the lack of a save feature. The 6-staged campaign takes about 30 minutes to clear so not being able to save and continue at a later time seems like a horrible oversight. I was also confused after completing the tutorial as it doesn’t explain the unique mechanics well but things will become much clearer after the first play through.
Even with a couple feature blemishes, Rolling Gunner is a top tier shmup. It is fast paced. It makes you feel powerful against terrible odds. There is a considerate checkpoint system and the control options are fantastic. The presentation, complete with anime cutscenes, are also well done. Shooter fans cannot miss this. Non-shooter fans, well, this is probably the game to make you switch sides.
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By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com
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