Graze Counter

Graze Counter

Hop into the cockpit of your fighter and take down a virtual network that has evolved a little too much for its own good in this shoot ‘em up from Bikkuri Software. It offers non-stop action and a bullet grazing mechanic that forces you to risk life and limb to boost your score while unleashing devastating attacks. The 16-bit style of the visuals and audio offers a nice blast from the past for fans of the genre, but even newcomers can ease into the action thanks to a practice mode and selectable difficulty settings. The game is a little short for our liking and the style might not appeal to everyone, but if you enjoy a good shoot ‘em up you can do far worse than this one.

Gameplay: Being forced to skirt dangerously close to bullets instead of simply avoiding them makes for a frantic experience.

Graphics: The 16-bit visual style is charming, but might not appeal to those who didn’t grow up with the genre.

Sound: The soundtrack is good, but the sound effects lack a little punch

DoDonPachi Resurrection

DoDonPachi Resurrection

Not everyone enjoys navigating a hail of bullets with pinpoint precision while retaliating with excessive firepower, but if bullet hell shooters are your thing then you can’t go wrong with DoDonPachi Resurrection. The story will probably be lost on most players and the game can be very daunting at first, but it packs a wealth of modes and options. The action is relentless and chasing highscores is undeniably addictive. This Steam version does suffer from a couple of minor issues, but overall it is a great example of the genre and one that all shooter fans will want to add to their collection.

Gameplay: The action is relentless, but very addictive.

Graphics: Good, but the playing area is rather small and mostly filled with bullets.

Sound: The soundtrack is fast paced and upbeat while the sound effects deserves to be cranked up high

RefRain -prism memories-

RefRain -prism memories-

RefRain is a great shooter that strays a little from the usual formula to offer an action packed experience that is based more on skill than luck. Mastering the use of the M.E.F.A2 and Concept Reactor attacks are immensely satisfying and also allows you to play more aggressively. Players used to power-ups and weapon upgrades will find that RefRain has a bit of a learning curve, but this also provides it with more longevity and replay value. Overall, if you are a fan of the genre, then RefRain certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Gameplay: Challenging, but very rewarding when mastered.

Graphics: The designs are a little bland compared to other shooters, but the game is very colorful.

Sound: Features a very fitting electronic soundtrack

Beat Da Beat

Beat Da Beat

Blast away aliens that move and attack to the beat of some great Dubstep tracks in this addictive bullet hell shooter. The game is no walk in the park and with four difficulty settings as well as ten ships to unlock it will keep you busy for a while. Being a fan of EDM obviously helps, but the charming pixel art style visuals and relentless action is what kept us coming back for more.

Gameplay: As simple as dodging bullets and grabbing coins.

Graphics: Retina searing colors and flashes, but very nice overall.

Sound: Your personal music taste will determine whether you like the Dubstep soundtrack or not

Deathsmiles

Deathsmiles

Combine the gothic art style of the early Castlevania games and mix it with the frantic bullet hell gameplay CAVE is so good at and you get Deathsmiles. Although it has been many years since the game first graced arcades and the Xbox 360 its arrival on the PC is still a cause for celebration. The loss of online coop and lack of PC extras is a pity, but the game will still put a smile on any shooter fan’s face.

Gameplay: Not the hardest game in the genre, but attaining a highscore still takes skill.

Graphics: The arcade mode visuals look a bit dusty, but the rest of the game still look good considering its age.

Sound: The soundtrack is nice and energetic while the sound effects are good without being overwhelming

Blue Rider

Blue Rider

Blue Rider is a game that will make you remember the days of encountering bosses that actually served as a challenge and not just a minor speed bump on your road to finishing the game. And while the game is far from easy it is addictive enough to keep you coming back for more. Thanks to the vibrant visuals and excellent enemy designs, especially the bosses, it is also a very good looking game. If you are not scared to be challenged and in the mood for a very polished shooter then get yourself a copy of Blue Rider.

Gameplay: Tough and uncompromising, but still very entertaining and addictive.

Graphics: Vibrant and varied.

Sound: Nice music and booming explosions

Mushihimesama

Mushihimesama

Mushihimesama is showing its age a bit, but the stellar gameplay is as good as always. The game is a bullet hell shooter, so expect a tough as nails challenge, but it is always fair and remains addictive throughout. Although it only features five levels, the multitude of modes and difficulties ensures that there is plenty of value for money. An online co-op mode would have been nice, but even with just the local co-op it remains a blast. If you are a fan of the genre don’t hesitate to pick it up, but novices beware, Mushihimesama packs a mean challenge.

Gameplay: The game doesn’t show any mercy, but practice pays off.

Graphics: Definitely not state of the art, but still charming despite the age of the game.

Sound: The soundtrack is great, but the sound effects could have benefited from a bit more oomph

Sora

Sora

Sora is a shooter that takes practice and patience to master, but it is also a very rewarding title. Playing as a lone enhanced human facing off against swarms of enemies is quite a blast and the bosses in the game are so adorable it is almost a pity to defeat them. Add to that the rocking soundtrack and you have a game that all fans of the genre should definitely add to their collection.

Gameplay: Very tricky at first, but becomes easier with practice and weapon unlocks.

Graphics: The visuals are crisp and feature some great character designs.

Sound: The audio in this game is good enough that we recommend grabbing the soundtracks as well

Solar Shifter EX

Solar Shifter EX

With its non-stop action and intense visuals, it is hard to believe that Solar Shifter EX is the work of a solo developer. The game is quite tough, but fans of bullet hell shooters will enjoy the challenge. The ability to shift around the screen definitely adds to the experience and while not perfect, Solar Shifter EX has a lot to offer fans of the genre.

Gameplay: Very tough, but the inclusion of checkpoints makes the challenge more manageable.

Graphics: Crank it up to “Extreme” and marvel at all the detail.

Sound: Features some nice tunes, but the sound effects lacks a little punch

Isbarah

Isbarah

Isbarah is not a game to approach if you are looking for an easy challenge or rewards that you don’t have to work hard to earn. The game requires quick reflexes, plenty of practice and a lot of dedication to master. It is definitely rewarding though, and taking down bosses many times your own size while they are covering the screen in projectiles is quite a rush. It is not for the faint of heart, but if you are up for the challenge you simply must try out the game.

Gameplay: The blend of platforming and bullet hell works brilliantly.

Graphics: Beautiful 2D art with excellent character designs.

Audio: Adrenaline pumping tunes.