Rockin' Android has put together three of indie developer Platine Dispositif’s bullet hell shooters into one Gundemonium Collection
for your outrageously abrasive journey through an alternate 18th century universe. Combined, the three titles - Gundemonium Recollection
, and Hitogata Happa
- tell a cohesive tale of the influence of alchemy, philosopher’s stones and the general advancement of science.
Bullet hell shooters were born and raised in Japan, and quite popular from their inception in the 90s. Even moving on to XBLA titles like Geometry Wars, however, the genre is still quite a niche category, but enjoyable if stumbled upon (and mastered) nevertheless. The genre, and these three titles in particular, boast difficulty in the sense of having to scrutinize practically every pixel in order to survive. With the help of a couple special abilities (self-destruction, bombs, and various mana-fueled moves that can clear the screen) you’ll be taking on an odd assortment of enemies as they bombard you with more bullets than even a shooting range has seen.
The storyline is revealed to you by means of text adorned with 2D art previous to each level/chapter. In sequential order, Hitogata Happa
begins the journey with the story of a Genormasody Reich at the hands of East Prussia in 1757. The Universal Science is growing exponentially, and threatening to conquer the world. Rosa Christopher enlists in the help of fellow female-badass Kreutzer and her army of dolls to save the world from this treachery.
Hitogata Happa’s gameplay is probably the most unique of the three, given its vertical scrolling and its use of dolls in battle as opposed to the character herself. While the other two bullet hell shooters are organized horizontally, your team of dolls will take on alien-looking battleships from top to bottom.
If there is one thing to be said of bullet hell shooters, it is that they can become incredibly overwhelming given screens littered with the likes of bullets, enemies, lasers, shrapnel, etc. The view on this particular title, however, feels even more so overwhelming because the perspective is from a much more zoomed out angle. When comparing the closer views of GundeadliGne and Gundemonium Recollection - and also while understanding that every pixel counts when attempting to avoid imminent collision with ammunition and enemies - Hitogata Happa’s distant view feels hindering to its gameplay.
Difficulty of gameplay is certainly not an issue with any of these titles; in fact, it’s possibly one of the more redeeming qualities. Hitogata Happa happens to be the most difficult of the three, particularly when taking bosses into consideration. Struggling against the usual design technique of combining lower level enemies with the brute power and armor of a boss, there is also a time limit to take heed to.Fortunately, you amass a greater amount of health given your numerous self-destructive dolls. Although the number of dolls fluctuates depending on the difficulty setting, the team of them still lends a leniency that the other two titles do not. As you progress, you’ll encounter dolls that have more abilities and more effective ammunition types rather than just Leaf that can self-destruct to give massive damage to surrounding enemies in your process of destroying the scientific empire.
Following in sequence, Gundemonium Recollection
covers the story of society’s advancement in using philosopher’s stones. The power of alchemy begins to bring about a new age. These stones were found in hell, and the Demonium army attacked in full force after said stones were seized. The stones were used to fight the demons, until the 7th Demonium emerged and captured the main defender against them. As you progress through the levels of this particular title, you will partake in missions to help rescue survivors and investigate suspicious disappearances, all while continuing your rain of bullet storms against your enemies.
Gundemonium Recollection is unique in its selection of playable characters. Based on degrees of speed, mana abilities and weapon types, you can experience the chapters of battling the threat of alchemy in a completely different way. I had initially started out with traditional style revolvers and the ability to call out a helpful (but temporary) friend, as well as an equipped bomb. On a second playthrough, however, I stumbled on a character that equips a powerful laser beam. Even more exciting, my character would react to every hit taken with the automatic release of a dragon that traverses the screen to attack my enemies in a fit of rage (read: awesome).
A lot of this particular title’s gameplay relies on mazes formed by ammunition, shrapnel, etc. while lined with enemies. The quicker you defeat the enemies surrounding said maze, the sooner the maze will dissipate. At the same time, however, you will in effect encounter a different slew of enemies near the end of that level if you’ve managed to clear the mazes fast enough. Fortunately, navigating the mazes is easier given the concept of your heart as a weak spot. So long as nothing damages your heart, you can allow the rest of your body to be hit or collided with.
Enemies range in oddity from flying and flaming swords to bunny rabbits to pumpkins to asteroids. The typical tougher enemy, however, will generally be an animated and scantily clothed female. You can assume from what little clothes she does wear that she is possibly a furry, complete with tail and ears. Boss levels will combine their tough and/or large physique with a set of these other creatures.
If you were looking for the most diverse of the three, Gundemonium Recollection takes that reward home with the most interesting and versatile playable characters, as well as a slew of laughter-inducing enemies. Compared to GundeadliGne, however, Gundemonium Recollection contains a harsher set of gameplay rules. Although you can continue a failed game at the last attempted level with all three hearts intact, you have only those three to continue to survive with. GundeadliGne
is the most forgiving of the three. With the possibility to grab life-ups across the game field, the game is a lot more enjoyable, particularly if you are looking to complete the game on a higher difficulty level. Being that the genre is nonetheless difficult, I ended up relying on memorizing my enemies’ spawn patterns and attack behavior. By anticipating their moves, I could gauge my attacks more appropriately. This trial and error technique is the kind of strategy that is involved in a bullet hell shooter such as these. Even so, bursts of ammo that encapsulate your character are difficult to avoid (and sometimes impossible), even with the similar weakness concept in Gundemonium Recollection of the exposed heart. At those instances where the screen is literally flooded with spinning bullets, your special abilities really come in handy. Certain abilities will clear the entire screen temporarily, slow time, or projectile fire at the enemies in your sights.
There are more similarities between GundeadliGne and Gundemonium Recollection than with Hitogata Happa. The laser beam option in GundeadliGne might be the most appreciated similarity between the title and Recollection. GundeadliGne’s laser beam is a much more massive one as compared to the thin laser in Gundemonium Recollection. On a larger scale, the lower level enemies are also very similar. Bosses are more often large ships that you will have to tackle, but gameplay is just as much a dance against bullets and enemies as they are in Gundemonium Recollection. Oftentimes this leads to both titles being a game of chance.
What is unique to GundeadliGne’s gameplay is the character’s ability to flip around and face enemies on her other side. This makes maneuvering around them a little more interesting, as you can keep the fight going even with your back up against the wall.
GundeadliGne’s place in the text-based storyline explains Operation Demonic Dawn, which covers a plot to go to the underworld to kill the threatening demons before they kill all of mankind. To take this final stand against the war against humanity, you can enlist in the help of a friend in co-operative play. This certainly helps manage the high levels of danger you are constantly up against.
While all three titles are largely similar given the overlapping qualities based on genre, each experience is still unique. They are unified in story, but distinct gameplay features set them apart from one another. Horizontally scrolling Gundemonium Recollection and GundeadliGne have you facing off against furry females and other random enemies, while playing as a character equipped with powerful weaponry and unique mana abilities. The action is up close, and your survival is determined on your ability to maneuver around the mass amounts of flying ammunition without bringing harm to your exposed heart.
Hitogata Happa, on the other hand, provides you with a set of fighting dolls, each with their own behavior and special weapons. As the enemies and ships that are attacking you get progressively harder, you will attain more skilled and useful dolls while you fight against them in a vertically scrolling arena.
Depending on your fighting style, one of these titles will suit your needs. Gundemonium Recollection offers a wider range of characters while GundeadliGne gives you a greater control over the arena by allowing you to flip sides. The numerous dolls in Hitogata Happa increase your life expectancy, as well as how much diversity you can instill in your gunfights.
No matter your choice, you can expect frustratingly hard and challenging bullet hell shooting accompanying retro-style 2D anime art. At times the experience can be rewarding, having finally surpassed another boss or level. Other times, the agony of pushing your character accidentally too far in attempting to avoid the onslaught of ammunition can have you opting for a less difficult game that does not rely on meticulous gameplay. If you enjoy the challenge of fully mastering a game, these titles will put you to that challenge, and the successful completion of them (particularly on harder difficulty settings) can be fulfilling. The chaotic fun of the Gundemonium Collection, however, is not for the faint of heart.