Bullet Candy

Bullet Candy snuck onto the Stack through a bundle some time ago. I was reminded of it by something called “Bullet Candy Perfect” in the latest Indie Royale bundle; I’m not clear on its relationship to the earlier game, whether it’s an enhanced version or a remake or a sequel or what, but I’m tentatively counting them as separate titles. Come to think of it, those various descriptors might be hard to tell apart, given how abstract and plotless the game is.

It’s a 2D “bullet hell” shooter set in space, with an overall design geared mainly towards filling the screen with sparklies and particle effects. (Even the power-ups that some enemies drop have particle effects, which to my mind makes them look like projectiles. I was several levels in before I even realized they were power-ups, because I kept dodging them.) I recall that it was compared to Geometry Wars a lot, but since I haven’t played that either, the main thing it reminds me of is Robotron. Seriously, the feel is so similar that it’s got to be homage. It even has indestructible enemies that jerk backward a little when hit with your bullets, just like the hulk robotrons. The one really big difference in feel is that you can shoot in arbitrary directions, rather than just eight.

Also, you can play with mouse and keyboard, and that changes the dynamics considerably. With mouse control, you shoot toward the cursor. That means that the classic Robotron maneuver of sweeping the entire screen by skirting the edges and firing constantly inward doesn’t work quite as well, because unless you’re moving the cursor in parallel with your ship (which would be tricky), your direction of fire will keep changing. On the other hand, it also means that you can often park the cursor on top of an enemy in order to keep firing at it regardless of where you move. But that’s less useful than it sounds, because such purposeful use of the cursor would require taking your eyes off your ship for a moment, and that’s a quick way to die. I’m thinking gamepad has the advantage here.

The main game mode has 50 levels, all of Robotron-like brevity, and every fifth level is a continue point, a place you can start over from when you run out of lives if you don’t care about your score. Through copious use of continues, it’s possible to play the game from start to finish in a single session. Thus, off the Stack it goes. I guess you’re intended to try harder difficulty settings at this point, or other gameplay modes, like survival mode or asteroids mode. And actually, I’m finding asteroids mode pretty engaging. It’s the same basic mechanic as the classic Asteroids, but easier to control and much faster-moving.

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