GamingReview: Rolling Gunner + Over Power

Review: Rolling Gunner + Over Power

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I’ve always marveled at how some of the most addictive gameplay experiences in video games are from some of the simplest systems and Rolling Gunner + Over Power, a side-scrolling bullet hell shmup, is the perfect example of this and then some, with two contrasting arcade formulas part of an immensely engrossing package that’s really hard to put down. 

One of 3 great-looking selectable planes, the RF-42RS Super STORK is a high-speed type with a narrow bullet spread.

As a pilot of a STORK space fighter you are humanity’s last hope of survival, a beacon of light for a populace whose demise at the hands of rogue computer system BAC seems all but assured with their army large Gundam-like robots and killing machines. 

Thankfully, the awesome weaponry at your disposal makes you feel more like Maverick from Top Gun than Dastardly and Muttley in their flying machines. 

The biggest reason for this is Rolling Gunner’s addition of the Over Power mode (originally released as DLC with original release), which adds so much to the experience that going between the two modes in the same sitting feels like you’ve popped in a completely different game. 

Thankfully a training mode – allowing you to practice specific sections and bosses – with countless adjustable options provides a great platform from which to build your skills off.

The original mode has the traditional challenge of a genre shmup with its punishing difficulty forcing you to respect the enemy by avoiding projectiles and timing your attacks around boss offensives. Mercy is provided in the form of an automatic bomb system that triggers after receiving contact, but they are limited in number, and significant skill and concentration is required to last the distance without numerous continues. 

Over Power, on the other hand, takes the direct opposite approach, encouraging an active playing style while providing you with the tools to take the action to the enemy. Your ship and weapons are more powerful as a result with a rolling gun that can shield against bullets and a buster beam that can destroy them. It’s not only more forgiving, but it also gives you the choice of how to deal with the threat infront of you, meaning that every playthrough feels different, as you feel in complete control of how you navigate the psychadelic sea of shrapnel.

While this does make the game easier, this isn’t just a cheap ploy from the developer to open the game’s doors to a new audience without respecting the original game’s formula – they haven’t just added to the original, they made an entirely new formula and perfected it.

Even the control systems are different across the modes with a single stick system in the former and twin-stick system in the latter, separating the rolling gun functionality and making each mode yet more distinct.

The game’s special weapons are common to both modes, though, and it is the wielding of these where the key to achieving the best possible score lays. A destructive plasma shield – which destroys all bullets on the screen – can be activated once you have picked up 1000 medals (dropped by defeated enemies) and once activated, the same medal counter starts to decrease, giving you 15 seconds to charge (by picking up as many red medals as possible) and fire the crème de la crème of butt-whoopin’ weaponry. 

With the above weapon by far and away the most powerful, gathering medals – automatically sucked up by being within a certain distance – is almost as important as clearing a path to victory.

There’s quite a risk of losing the chance to unleash said badassery, however, as a single hit during the charging period resets the counter to 0, so waiting until the very last moment – especially if you’re being carpet bombed by a boss – might not seem worth it, until you see how much damage it causes that is. The game rewards the brave excellently in this way, and the 3 or more opportunities that you can use the weapon in each stage are brilliantly nervous moments, as you want more time to charge your weapon, but also can’t have the timer wind down fast enough.

What’s also interesting about Rolling Gunner is that it excels in the presentation department without doing anything particularly groundbreaking – it’s just that arrangement of its features complement each other so very well. The visuals – from the backgrounds, to the ship designs, and camera angles both in cutscenes and in-game – are tremendously easy on the eyes, and the brilliant soundtrack with its tracks that dial you in to the action and moreish sound effects, from the firing of the weapons to the explosions, excite and inspire in equal measure. 

You aren’t all alone on this adventure either, with some already very impressive scores being hosted on the online leader boards already, providing great impetus to further improve your own scores.

Although it is possible to play with unlimited continues, only your score within the default number of lives is recorded online, so the pursuit for perfection is ever-present and is very appealing.

So overwhelmingly positive was my experience with Rolling Gunner that the only negative worth noting is the occasional slowdown in performance when thick clouds of projectiles or large explosions are produced in boss battles. It doesn’t particularly affect the experience – you could argue it even helps out players in the game’s toughest moments – but as they have reportedly been patched out on other platforms where it’s been out longer, you’d assume it’d get the same treatment here.

The package of Rolling Gunner + Over Power provides countless hours of entertainment through its immensely replayable and masterfully balanced gameplay, making it not just a must-play for fans of the shmup genre but also an excellent starting point for those who are looking to test the waters in the bullet hell genre for the first time, but have been wary of the challenge. 

SUMMARY

+Tremendous gameplay mechanics and balance of difficulty
+Contrasting modes provide endless replayability
+Understated audio
+Great colorful presentation
+Excellent training mode with countless options
- Occasional slowdown

Played on PS4. Also available on Nintendo Switch.
Alex Chessun
Alex Chessun
Currently obsessed with the Yakuza series (minus no.7), Alex is an avid fan of immersive Open World games, quick pick-up-and-play arcade experiences and pretty much anything else good. He also desperately wants Shenmue 4 to happen - a lot.

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Review: Rolling Gunner + Over Power+Tremendous gameplay mechanics and balance of difficulty<br/> +Contrasting modes provide endless replayability <br/> +Understated audio <br/> +Great colorful presentation <br/> +Excellent training mode with countless options<br/> - Occasional slowdown <br/> <br/> Played on PS4. Also available on Nintendo Switch. <br/>