Title: Chain Blaster
Release Date: July 25, 2013
Ask anyone to name a 3DS bullet hell game that isn’t Kokuga or one of the 3D Classics games and they’ll most likely umm and ahh for a few seconds before telling you that they don’t know of any other. Chain Blaster, by Japanese developer G-Style, appeared on the 3DS eShop last July.
Chain Blaster has a very interesting story. Like a lot of arcade shooters, it has a futuristic setting, but it isn’t the space setting that you’d expect that has become so sickeningly cliche in the shoot ’em up genre. Instead, you play as an antivirus program inside a supercomputer, Artemis, that controls pretty much all worldly issues, such as the environment and the sustenance of life. Gosh, how can people be happy that way? I mean pretty much every sci-fi film portrays the world-controlling supercomputer as the bad guy! I jest, I jest. Anyway, a deadly virus infects Artemis, and this could well be a deadly end to the people who were stupid enough to hand control of the world over to a computer, unless an antivirus program, Sagittarius (another antivirus/ship can be unlocked) manages to wipe out the virus.
The virus, as you expect, manifests as digital ‘spaceships’ that you shoot down. As in all top-down shooters, the enemies appear in patterns. Here the game’s unique feature (and also the reason the game was named ‘Chain Blaster’) comes in. At the point where the enemies in different patterns meet, firing a Chain Blast using the B button will destroy all the enemies in those patterns if the shot is timed properly. For the Chain Blast gauge to fill up, you pick up Blast Matter dropped by enemies you’ve shot down. The Chain Point, which is where the patterns meet, is shown as a crosshair but this can be turned off in-game if you want to test yourself. Pressing the A button fires a normal shot and pressing the Y button uses up a section of the Blast Gauge. to launch Sagittarius into Overdrive. Overdrive slows all enemies down so you can get a few good shots in. It comes in handy only if you’re overwhelmed by enemies onscreen though – Chain Blasting is the way to go for the normal enemy patterns. Overdrive does make you temporarily invincible though. The Extend Gauge is basically your Health/Energy gauge and as long as a section of it is full you won’t face a Game Over.
I found Chain Blaster to be easier than other bullet hell games, because I didn’t swear a single time while playing it unlike what happens with me in other shoot ’em ups (damn you, Hitogata Happa!). It provides a fair challenge, but not a hardcore one. The game is pretty easy in the first couple of levels but the difficulty does ramp up. If you’re not a big-time bullet hell fan then you’ll find it to be much more accessible than most other games of the genre. If you consider yourself a fan of the genre, you might find it easier than other such games.
The visuals are decent and best of all I didn’t encounter any slowdown while playing the game, which is a common complaint with bullet hell games. The background was very cool too. It’s made of binary digits and lots of computer-y stuff and the ‘tunnel’ of these binary digits twists and turns to create the impression that you’re actually moving through the computer. The sound is decent, but forgettable.
Online Features and Nintendo Network Support: One of the coolest features is that you can upload your scores online and see where you rank. This increases the replay value manifold for high-score chasers. The game’s manual also states that the game supports Nintendo Network, but so far I haven’t been able to see what it actually does – there isn’t a Chain Blaster community on Miiverse yet. If there is one, this review may be updated detailing what Nintendo Network support actually does for the game.
Chain Blaster will be a satisfying romp for fans of arcade shooters. The only downsides are that for bullet hell maniacs is that it is somewhat shorter and easier than most games of the genre – though of course this makes it more accessible for people inexperienced in the genre, and the music isn’t particularly memorable. But if you’re looking for a simple top-down shooter on the eShop, Chain Blaster is worth checking out.
Overall Score: 8/10