One of the best bullet-hell shoot ‘em ups from the past few years has finally made its way over to PlayStation. Rolling Gunner + Over Power from developer Mebius and publisher ININ Games has been out on Nintendo Switch and PC for some time now but with the PlayStation release I just now sat down to see what this hardcore shoot ‘em up was all about.
This version of the game includes the base Rolling Gunner game and the Over Power DLC that released for it. This shoot ‘em up has a good pedigree behind it as it was directed by Daisuke Koizumi who also worked on Deathsmiles 2 and Dondonpachi. The story in the game takes place in the year 2061 where humanity has discovered a new resource called Busterium. Busterium then allowed them to build new engines capable of creating a new source of energy that could replace what we use today. The only problem is that they built an AI called BAC to control all these energy engines and that AI has now gone rogue. You play as a pilot who will be flying a space craft called the RF-42R STORK which is armed with the Rolling Gun which was secretly made to deal with such a crisis. Most of us play these shoot ‘em ups for the gameplay but I always appreciate when there is a somewhat interesting backstory behind all the shooting that we’ll be doing and I actually enjoyed the animated cutscenes that they made to tell it.
Something about Rolling Gunner that I immediately liked is that it’s very approachable despite the fact that bullet hell shoot ‘em ups are known for their difficulty. There are several different difficulties that you can choose from including novice, casual, original, and expert mode. Novice and casual will be the way to go if you are less skilled at these types of games while original and expert are more for those who are seasoned veterans and who want to rack up the highest scores possible. When you start playing you can choose to play the original Rolling Gunner mode or play the mode that has the Over Power DLC. The normal mode will have you playing through six stages full of enemies that will be unleashing relentless firepower on you.
In this mode you have your standard bullets, a charge shot, and bombs that are great for taking out large amounts of enemies at a time. You also have a weapon that orbits around your ship that you can lock in place where it makes the most sense for you. It will fire opposite of where your standard fire is going so if you are firing forward it will fire behind you and so on. This orbiting gunner changes up quite a bit when you switch over to playing the DLC. In this mode the control scheme takes on a more twin-stick shooter feel as you’ll be in full control of the gunner this time using the right analog stick. You also gain new abilities in this mode such as a shield and a powerful beam attack. I’m a big fan of twin-stick shooters and I really liked how different both modes felt from each other in this game due to the different control schemes. While the original mode has you playing more cautiously, the Over Power mode instead gives you the tools to me more aggressive and I was all about that.
Outside of those two modes there isn’t anything else in the game for modes which was a bit disappointing. You get the standard online leaderboards to score chase on, a training mode, and the ability to watch your replays but some other modes would’ve been appreciated. Rolling Gunner isn’t just great in the gameplay department but in the art design and sound design too. Whether it be your ship, the enemies, or the backgrounds everything has a clean look to it while the sound effects are crispy and the soundtrack is pumping and very enjoyable to listen to throughout. Trophy hunters will find 43 trophies in the game including a Platinum. It isn’t the hardest list out there but you’ll need to be somewhat skilled at these types of games to earn them all.
If you call yourself a fan of bullet hell shoot ‘em ups then you owe it to yourself to play Rolling Gunner + Over Power. While there isn’t much here for extra modes what is here is an absolute action-packed treat. It’s got challenging gameplay, great art and sound design, and the Over Power DLC makes the game feel completely different to play from the base game. When people talk about what are some of the best shoot ‘em ups, Rolling Gunner deserves to be among them.
*Rolling Gunner + Over Power is available now on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. PlayStation 4 version reviewed. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.