The game's story concerns galaxy IRATA 2601 and it coming under attack from a foe known as Black Eye. V-99 is the designation of the vague hero character--a man-shaped avatar with a retro, early 80's arcade, design aesthetic. The green wire-frame figure of V-99 features a number on the trunk of the "body" that is both a player's health and their ammunition count.
In traditional shoot-em-up fashion, players control their character, move around the screen, dodging and shooting at enemies. Rather than simply firing through swarms of enemies to finish a stage, players are tasked with earning a specific score to successfully complete a stage. This requires both carefully dodging enemies, and carefully monitoring bullet stock--along with shooting enemies to score combos. Points are earned for shooting enemies, shooting enemies without being hit by an enemy, defeating bosses, and finishing with as many bullets remaining as possible. Essentially, conservative gameplay and accuracy are the keys to success in 99 Bullets.
Players may control V-99 on both screens of the DSi or 3DS with the D-pad or the 3DS Circle Pad. Using the ABXY buttons, players may fire in four different directions, relative to the positions of said ABXY buttons.
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