For years I’ve been at odds with bullet-hell games. The high-tension twitch-based gameplay entices me, yet with every new game I’ve picked up I’ve been let down. What I’ve been looking for is for fullfilling gameplay where the focus is to beat the game, much like the Gradius and R-Type games. Instead, I’ve found short experiences where the goal is to memorize the stages and get high rankings. NeoGeo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting ends this disappointment.
The second bullet-hell, (or “danmaku”) game released by SNK Playmore recently, Ultimate Shooting sets a lofty perception of itself with that name. Yet in contrast to most of this genre’s games, which only have a single set of stages in one mode to play, this game has a ton of variety. Instead of one character or ship, how about ten with a large variety in attack types? And instead of one linear path of stages to just replay constantly, how about 15 total stages for the main Story mode with 5 end-bosses and endings for each character? That’s 50 potential playthroughs filled with variety and that’s just the Story mode.
There’s also the Challenge Mode, where the player can do a survival-based boss rush, or Subject Mode, where the player is tasked with achieving certain objectives during the course of gameplay. Thought just surviving a stage was bad? Now try to beat it while not dying, collecting 30 of the best score-raising items in a row and staying in the top two-thirds of the screen!
In addition to the main game, the arcade version of KoF Skystage is also packed into the game. Two games for the price of one, both with a large cast of characters who come from fighting games and bring all of their special attacks and taunts with them. A variety of gameplay modes, a large Museum to fill out with unlockables, and full control over the game’s options right down to changing the display size and style on your PSP. Is holding it normally making the screen too small? Shift it sideways and play on a larger screen with all the controls appropriately remapped to the d-pad and analog stick.
NeoGeo Heroes: Ultimate Shooting has finally provided to me what I’ve been looking for in a bullet-hell shooter: tons of characters, variety, play modes, and unlockables all wrapped up into a gorgeous package.