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For a mere 500 Nintendo Points, 99Bullets is another resounding success for EnjoyUp, giving gamers a much needed retro-shooter that is filled with the usual core shmup addictiveness, but with a brilliantly fresh idea of sacrificing lives to build up points that adds a whole new element to the standard fare and helps to make 99Bullets one of the most unique DSiWare releases so far. A must for space shooter fans.
At first, it seems like an imposition to have to start the Arcade mode from scratch every time, so mollycoddled we've become in our gaming habits. But such is its quickfire structure and moreish appeal that petty gripes fall by the wayside and concerted practice kicks in. The fact that 99Bullets is comfortably the most entertaining game in this week's crop ought to give you a clue to how impressive it really is.
Painful childhood memories aside, 99Bullets otherwise pays great homage to that era of arcade shooters – and intriguingly takes their focus on achieving high scores and actually makes it the win condition, while further keeping you on your toes with a restricted amount of ammunition. This is another in the line of quirky, interesting hybrid-genre concepts that have found their niche in the DSi Shop. And its 99 bullets are well worth 500 of your pennies to own.
The combination of two genres doesn't always equal success in the world of video games, but the unique mix of shooter and puzzler elements in 99Bullets at least creates an experience that makes it stand out from the crowd. While there will inevitably be shmup fans who miss the "blast everything in sight" mentality that's normally associated with the genre, gamers who are willing to open their minds and try something new might just find the game to be quite a breath of fresh air.
So is 99Bullets, an all-too-brief effort that may be the group’s finest work. You are a small wireframe man with, yes, 99 bullets, tasked to shoot enemies as they fly around you in patterns. A familiar setup, but the hook is that these bullets are also your lives. Once you run out, your goose is cooked. Complicating matters is the win condition for each level. You have to achieve a specific score, and maximum points are awarded for never missing a shot, but points and available lives/bullets are taken away when you’re hit. It looks good, sounds good, and the execution is tight. It’s a shame that this one will also toil in the obscurity of the DSiWare store…
99bullets is about learning rather than doing: each run-through of arcade mode starts at the first level, so replaying layouts and learning to perfect them is the cornerstone of its design. There is a level select to practice any previously completed stage, but this could have done with something smarter – a randomly generated endless mode, or at least some online leaderboards. As it is, 99Bullets is a smart idea, executed in a very controlled fashion, but could do with letting its hair down occasionally.