Love arcade action? How about bullets being disgorged on your screen faster than you can keep up with? Think the term "bullet-hell" is a misnomer? Then try Matt Roszak's fun, frantic vertical shooter Bullet Heaven on for size. Fly and blast your way through bizarre and adorable but very, very deadly hordes of enemies with unlockable characters, powerful upgrades, power ups, and more. Set to a trance-like soundtrack courtesy of music maestro HalcyonicFalconX and featuring characters from Epic Battle Fantasy, it's a crazy, twitchy, blast-a-millisecond throwback to shoot-em-ups of yesteryear. And we wouldn't have it any other way.
Control is fairly simple; your character follows your cursor, and you click to shoot. Left clicking fires your default weapon, while double-clicking activates your sub-weapon; more powerful, but slower to charge. (Check out the controls menu to see an alternate setup using the [arrow] keys if you prefer.) Characters also have a limited number of bombs that can be triggered with the [spacebar] for massive area damage. You can also press and hold the [shift] key to "focus" your character, moving more slowly, while lets you sneak in and around between incoming fire more easily. While you'll begin fairly weak, as you progress you'll gather coins you can spend between levels on a variety of invaluable upgrades. (Note that there's also an extensive "Options" menu that will let you mess with the settings to increase performance or disable specific annoying sounds or even activate cheats, as well as enable or disable auto-fire and auto-focus.) While the different characters all control the same, some are better or worse than others, depending on your perspective. Do you favour speed over power? Concentrated fire over projectiles that spread out around the screen?
Although things start out simply enough, the sheer amount of enemies and projectiles onscreen quickly progresses from "manageable" to what we're going to scientifically call "redonkulous". Surprisingly, the game doesn't really feel unfair or impossible in spite of this, largely due to the fact that your hitbox (the place on your character where an enemy can score a hit) is literally only one pixel, lying at the tip of your cursor when it's directly over your character. (Hold [shift] to focus and see this pixel for yourself.) This means you can pull off some truly hair-raising evasive maneuvers, even when the screen is full to bursting with death.
Analysis: I have a weird relationship with any genre that requires any sort of skill or reflexive manual dexterity, and this is especially true with shooters. I'm typically uncomfortable with anything more demanding on my ability to aim and stay alive than Super Metroid, so games like, say, Team Fortress 2 are basically out of my range of ability no matter how much I might want to be friends with them. The one exception to the rule, however, lies with vertical shooters, and bullet-hell shoot-em-ups in particular. Some Rain Man part of my brain takes over and I enter a trance-like state of pure enjoyment. Throw in some pulsing ambient music and lava-lampish projectiles and you basically have a recipe for unproductivity for yours truly.
Bullet Heaven is like the perfect trap to snare people like me; frantic and challenging, yet oddly hypnotic and lovely. The backgrounds are fairly monotonous, but in a game where the screen quickly becomes cluttered with fatal eye candy, more detailed environments would just have proved a disastrous distraction. What's nice is that the variety of enemies you encounter feels genuine; it's not a parade of foes that behave identically with just a palette swap to try to make them distinct. Different enemies shoot different projectiles that behave in different ways, from the orange jellyfish that spits homing golden orbs that break apart into numerous others as they track you to monstrous bosses that vary their attacks the more you damage them.
The downside is that the farther you progress, the more time you'll probably have to spend grinding the almighty dollar to purchase upgrades. The bosses tend to have such an obscene amount of health that whittling them down becomes a test of endurance more than anything else, so unless you've gained enough cash to dump a herculean amount of levels on your damage or your rate of fire and damage, you'll be blasting for a long, long time. Another potential issue is that it can be difficult to keep track of your character in the maelstrom of bullets (both yours and your enemy's) that appear onscreen. Just remember that speed isn't always the answer, and keep your eyes glued to your character; that one-pixel hitbox is the only thing that really matters, and once you've upgraded the Magnet ability, the cash will come to you anyway.
While Bullet Heaven doesn't do anything that really sets it noticeably apart from other titles in the genre, it does prove that bullet-hell shoot-em-ups aren't ready to be consigned to the dusty, unused corner of the arcade just yet. (Which is lucky because where I come from an "arcade" actually means "laundromat with Pac-Man and Contra".) It won't be for everyone, but for those of us with a song in our hearts and a Gatling gun in our hands, it's a fun and fast call to arms.
Thanks to Chris for sending this one in!
I really enjoyed this game until I realized that (a) there was no way in hell I was going to improve my rating on the later levels without more upgrades and (b) I had run out of upgrades.
I will say what I will about his other games, but this one I cannot deny is totally my kind of game.
Wall o' Text begins below, with mild level info spoilers, but these games generally aren't known for their plot.
A one pixel hit box is a breath of fresh air from most of the bullet hell flash games that I have seen, and many of the mechanics seem to be lifted from some of my favorites, (Looking again, the credits list the two I was thinking of, Touhou and Ikaruga!) and the Main/Sub weapon and weapon charge system is unique and cool.
Cannot imagine playing this with mouse control though, so it kind of baffles me on why its set that way by default.
Some suggestions for the developer on the slight chance that he somehow ends up reading this. Some more audio cues would be nice, like a beep noise when shield is almost gone, some audio cue for when the boss is almost at the level of health for switching attack patterns, along with some mark on their health bar to show where attack pattern changes occur.
The desert ruins level sucks, especially because of the splitting-paths-one-of-which-leads-into-an-unavoidable-spike-wall part, doubly so due to the issue that there is no way to tell which one leads to the spikes.
Also, one enemy wave in the water area comes from the bottom of the screen which can feel like a cheap shot, but fortunately, no other enemies do that anywhere else in the game.
This game is not for everybody, but that kinda is what you would expect from the screenshots. Good difficulty curve, ranges from "No bullets at all" to "More bullet coverage then visible background"
Pretty much everything else not mentioned in the spoiler tags is totally perfect for the genre however, and the large level count forces you to focus on adapting to attacks instead of memorization. Great job with this game Matt! ( ' ') b
My end of game upgrades and stuff below.
Played only as Matt through the whole game,
Continues: 1 (died on the level where puffer fish are introduced)
Max health: 6
No levels replayed
Max Bombs: 3
No bonus levels played, two of them unlocked, never unlocked final character.
I feel proud :3
I'm going to be quite scathing here, and say that this just seems like a fairly amateurish rip of the Touhou series. The Touhou series, Shoot the Bullet in particular, perfected curtain fire shooters for me in a way no other game will be able to match (except perhaps Ikaruga or Radiant Silvergun, but I still haven't gotten around to playing them).
This game seemed to incentivise all the wrong sorts of things - a coin system during 'battle', as it were, an upgrade system that I didn't even notice until about the fifth level, and the use of lives. The best thing about curtain fire shooters, I've always found, is that they're punishing, and require the utmost skill and precision, and are therefore far more rewarding. This seemed far too easy for my taste, and bland, when compared to the utterly excellent graphics of the Touhou series and the far smoother gameplay. (with even a better soundtrack to boot).
I can concede that, sure, there's a whole production team behind the Touhou games, as well as them costing to play (except for those dastardly pirates out there), but regardless, I couldn't help but think, before my premature exit, that this could have been more if, well, it just conformed to the norm of curtain fire shooters, and didn't try to complicate it with unnecessary features. There's a certain pride and enjoyment to be found in perfection of a series, which Touhou seems to reach far more than this, this straying in a completely different, 'worse' direction.
Though I can also concede that for many people the things I'm complaining about will be what sets this apart and the main enjoyable factors of the game, all I really want is another Touhou game to play, all the better if it's a free, flash version and this, clearly, was not that.
(even though the setup did seem remarkably similar, hence (perhaps unjustly) calling it a 'rip off'...)
Hey! My submission made it!
@Setia Unfortunately, I've never played Touhou (maybe I'll have to try!). But this was much better (to me) than other bullet hells/shooters.
To each their own, I guess. I just liked the challenge (for me, with my admittedly mediocre reflexes.) And it was shiny and pretty, and a nice break from playing others I've tried.
Will definitely have to try Touhou &c someday...if my mouse/keyboard don't break :).
@Setia: The bonus bosses are pretty intimidating even with full upgrades. And I'd say that the patterns are as dense and devastating as any other bullet hell shooter.
The main difference, I'd say, is that this game puts them in bite-sized chunks. If you want to beat even Normal difficulty on Touhou, then you'll have to play extremely well for a solid half-hour. Here, each level takes a couple minutes, you start each one with full life, and you can retry very quickly. And since I hate having to redo a half-hour of work, this was a welcome change.
I found that doing the 3 HP challenge was a good way to shake things up if you're a veteran of Touhou. Plus it'll free up cash for firepower upgrades.
@Setia: Actually, the amazing thing about the Touhou series is that there ISN'T an entire production team behind the games. The design, code, graphics, and even the fantastic soundtrack are all the work of one man, who goes by ZUN.
I do agree that being a fan of the Touhou series basically ruins all other shooter games. I can't really play any without thinking, "I'd rather play Touhou instead."
Huh. I just discovered the Touhou series just this Friday. This must a sign that I must become a BULLET CHAMPION...
(read: pump redunkoulous amounts of time, blowing off housework, homework, family...etc...)
I don't want to say anything bad about Touhou, but I always feel compelled to point out that they were not the only good bullet-hell shooters ever made. Gunbird, DonPachi, Batsugun, and Strikers 1945 had already established the genre by the time the Touhou project started, and then DoDonPachi perfected it, and everything since has just been refinements.
Touhou is definitely impressive for being the creation of one person, but the big companies like Cave, Psikyo, Raizing, and Capcom released quite a few masterpieces over the years that any open-minded Touhou fan would enjoy. E.S.P. Ra. De., Dangun Feveron, Progear, Strikers 1945 II and III, Armed Police Batrider, Dimahoo, Dragon Blaze, 1941, the list goes on and on and on.
That said, this game Bullet Heaven seems pretty specifically inspired by Touhou. It's a pretty awesome effort, and plays impressively smoothly, but it does feel derivative in the end. Kind of just like the Epic Battle Fantasy games, it reminds me of how I felt playing the games it was inspired by without surpassing them in any way.
OH GOD YES.
It's about time I found another crazy shooter.
I dislike the one-pixel hitbox. I can see where my character is, but unless I'm holding shift, I've got no idea where my hitbox is. It also means I'm expected to make it through one-pixel-sized holes. Yikes, too small! Make the hitbox the character, and make the holes bigger (yes, that's antithetical to "bullet hell" shooters, whatever).
And man, where are my safe zones? Back in my day *cough*cough*, we had a safe spot on the screen where you were supposed to wait out the super attack and then counterattack. Here, it seems completely random! Tsk, tsk. You kids and your walls of bullets. More isn't better! Gimme skill, not random chance. I don't mind memorizing. I can memorize. I can't predict the future.
Wah wah, etc. I don't like bullet hell shooters, I guess, since my criticisms could be leveled against the whole genre. Too bad! Oh well, at least I gave it a shot. Now get off my lawn, unless you want be player 2 on LifeForce!
@[email protected]: I can't tell if you're being sarcastic. On the face of it, it seems like memorizing safe zones is the opposite of skill. None of the bullet patterns in this game are so difficult that you can't react to them. There are some tough ones, definitely, but nothing that requires clairvoyance.
Well, there are some enemies that sweep in from the side too quickly, in my opinion, but that's not a bullet pattern issue. It's a design issue. In a lot of bullet-hell shooters, colliding with enemies directly doesn't kill you.
@[email protected] man what can be moar fun than moving a character to a safe spot over and over again, i mean trying to dodge is just too much work right? it's so hard that the only way its going to be fun is though memorization of safe spots and leaving the character there for the entire time! Man, i mean like memorization totally takes more skill than actually moving your mouse around. It's completely random! thats totally not fun, i mean video games just have to follow the same pattern over and over just to be fun right?
Oh man, this holes to small dude, it should be totally larger so that some noob can rip though the entire game within 10 minutes. Why even make challenges when you have memorization! that way you can play the same game over and over, with teh same predictable type of fun! In fact you know the biggest problem of this game? it isn't like my childhood shooters. That's right, it has to follow the same pattern just like all the american made shooters where theres only liek 10 bullets on teh sceen at a time! If it doens't follow that formula, it totally sucks as a shooter! im so old, i cant even pause teh game and turn on auto focus!
Every time I start the game, I get an error 1009 and the adobe flash plugin crashes :( Is there any way I could fix this?
A decent game if a bit on the easy side for experienced bullet hell fans. Though getting S on the higher levels still takes some skill. Yes, it is clearly inspired by other games like Touhou and Ikuraga (which it clearly states in the credits), but it does have some unique points such as the upgrade system and "toggleable" secondary fire.
The upgrade system in particular seems to be catered to "casual" fans as they could just grind earlier missions if they were having trouble, and with full upgrades, the game becomes quite a bit easier (esp. with cheats). If you are still having trouble, try using Matt and spamming his 2nd between the waves right after the "flashes" disappears. Though this upgrade system makes the beginning levels pointlessly easy by the fact that you're killing everything before they could even attack through firepower rather than memorization and skill. Even the first 2 bonus levels can be done with almost no chance to get hit at full upgrade. Reduces the replay value significantly besides to just get A/S.
One thing I did not like about it (besides the mouse mode in general, but that's just my playstyle) is that in one of the hints, it states that bonus rounds might reduce fps, which could be helpful. Nonono. Don't try to make system lag a good thing. Even if its envitable, try to encourage them to reduce lag rather than cause it. If they want to abuse it by starting a bunch of YouTubes or whatever, let them, but at least make it feel guilty rather than say it's ok.
Other than that, it's a very good game that combines their art style and the bullet curtain systematics though I would have liked them to have included some more text, if even just a monster encyclopedia or such. I know very well they aren't exactly the wittiest of writers, but it loses some charm without any of their silly dialogues.
So it becomes exclusively for Touhou die-harder? (I hope not - since it's not for everyone) At least not as cruel as RadioZonde.
@ Time Traveler : Exactly what I thought! =D
I can defnitely see Touhou influence, especially the crab monster with the streaming.
Just a little heads up, this is defintely not exactly 10inch notebook friendly. Laggy connection makes movements a little clitchy and hard to dodge, plus not being able to see the entire window is sort of a disadvantage especially on higher up levels.
I do like the achievement medals and the upgrade availablity for most part. But the downside of this asepct is upgrading speed. I personally think speed should be standardize. As far as I could tell, speeding and lagg does not make a good combination in rapid bullet fire + danmaku.
Other than that, its good game. Now back to my usual Touhou fix!
This is probably one of the best flash shooting games ever made.
It's clearly inspired by the Touhou "danmaku" bullet-hell games. That's probably why calling the game "Bullet Heaven" is so amusing to me.
The creator of this game did better with this game than some of you are giving him credit.
For starters, even the toughest bosses in Bullet Heaven are probably on par with or slightly easier than the the later levels of the "Beginner" setting in your average Touhou game. It's a good thing. I've beaten a few Lunatic bosses in some of the Touhou games, but those patterns require insane reflexes. The only way I was able to beat those bosses was hours of re-playing the same stage over and over. This game isn't made for hardcore danmaku fans. I was able to get all of the medals in a handful of hours.
The upgrade system is actually pretty great. If you want an opportunity to test your bullet-dodging skill, then don't use the upgrades. The bonus bosses will take quite a long time to kill without the upgrades. If you're a casual gamer, then grab the upgrades. Levels 16-20 and the bonus levels 3-4 will still give you pretty good challenge.
Nonetheless, I have a few gripes, but they're different than others have stated: 1) object collection is too slow. I kupo707 is trying to be different than Touhou, but I've taken damage quite a few times when collectibles obscured by view of a nasty bullet pattern. It inspired a ragequit at least once. I've never once had that problem in a Touhou game. The best solution is to let the bullets completely occlude the collectibles or to make them smaller, or at least in the case of bosses, destroy all the old bullets when that "stage" of the boss is defeated; 2) the backgrounds need to be darker, or bullet contrast needs to be raised. The third bonus stage is the worst with a light yellow background and light orange bullets. Either the bullets need to have darker edges, or the backgrounds need to be darker, or at least, the backgrounds need to be brown or black. The ocean stages can also be bad with blue backgrounds and blue bullets.
I really hope kupo707 makes another Bullet Heaven game. His games are some of the best out there, and it truly is the best free flash danmaku that I've ever seen.
How can this game get only 4.3 stars?? This is one of the best shooters I've ever played. To begin with, the graphics magnificent, and the sheer beauty of those myriad bullets churning on screen is trancendental. There is certainly a very well-executed artfulness to this game.
FINALLY a decent shootergame that doesn't take place in space. (Was getting tired of those.) Challenging and stunning. 5/5
This game crashed my browser and my PC also.
During level 16 this game actually caused my machine to BSOD.
So be warned.
And it did that on the LOWEST detail setting.
I still need the last medal on 1000 enemies killed during Survival mode... Does any body know around which waves can I kill the 1000th enemy? My best so far is only 850...
It's technically amazing, and also amazing because it manages to make bullet hell-style games enjoyable for the first time in history.
The end boss is COMPLETELY ridiculous, however...
For those who tried to get through Bonus 4 with A or S grade:
First of all, upgrade everything as the hint suggested.
Turn off "moving background" as they will distract you, and turn off "bullet glows" so that you will see the gaps A LOT better
For me I suggest using Anna, because her sub is basically a power up for your weapon and will last really long (2-3 phases usually). Her bomb also clear up bullets in a longer time period.
Using Anna, you can actually skip 3 phases:
For the phase you want to skip, wait as long as possible (usually when the slow bullets reached the bottom) and use your bomb, and rush to the boss.
Basically you must want to skip the last phase. For me I am weak at horizontal bullets, so I skipped the only 2 phases with those horizontal ones.
Play the first two phases without using bombs. If you lose a life, just restart. Time saving.
Recharge and re-activate your sub as soon as it runs out. Without the sub your hit time with the boss nearly doubles.
Finally, just focus and be careful on the top-down bullet phases. Usually your character don't need to move a lot. And best of all, always stay at the bottom (the bullets spread wider and easier to dodge) and at the center (you will run into dead end very soon if you were stuck at the sides.)
How in Hell do you beat the fourth miniboss?
This was really juddery for me, I don't know why, but the vertical movement of the background seems to hesitate every few seconds which makes for a lot of eye strain and headaches.
Also the 'ship' tends to lag WAY behind the mouse when you move it, giving a laggy unresponsive feeling.
One really needs these types of shooters to be completely smooth and responsive, which this really isn't.
This game has litterally made me blind. I still have spinning lights in my vision and I'm relying on instince alone to write this comment.
Just kidding. Anyway, one pixel hitbox was very nice of Matt. There are also cheats in the options! Thanks Matt.
It's an OK game. It's good. Really. And I can see that many people are mentioning 'touhou' on this one. it's been inspired by touhou, right? Ahhh, I love that series. Fine, I like Touhou more.I've been a fan of Touhou for a long time. cann't help it /shrug
I beat the 4th bonus boss with an S-ranking. It's a lot more epic if you turn off the background music and have U.N. Owen Was Her playing in the background.
3 types of scroll shooters:
1. Light flight. Hitbox is the size of the whole player sprite. Only a few bullets on the screen.
2. Bullethell. Hitbox is very small. 1/5 of the screen is in bullets.
3. Danmaku. Harsh Japaneese games... 1/3 (sometimes 1/2 or more) of the screen is in bullets... Hitbox is very small... American Bullethell is nothing!