Wildcat Gun Machine: Nostalgic Bullet Hell Fun – Demo Preview
When I was young the bullet-hell genre, the flashiest and loudest of video game genres, was aptly a staple at arcades. I still recall those flashing lights and the sound of sliding coins over deafening edgy announcers fighting for my attention. In a way, the genre perfectly encapsulates the experience of the arcade. Dancing between the gorgeous spread of color and chaos, you either reach the zen of a smooth run or go bankrupt. Capitalizing on this, Wildcat Gun Machine lured me in with its over-the-top trailer, calling to my inner nostalgia. So, when Steam Next Fest rolled around, I leapt at the opportunity to try it out for myself.
“Fleshy masses, scorch-marked floors, and menacing orange and red lights further the impression that things are not right here. “
The demo for Wildcat Gun Machine drops you directly into the action. There is no explanation or story given for why you must progress through the halls of a derelict facility. Armed with a simple sidearm, you come across explosive barrels, stacked crates, and the occasional skeleton to plunder. Fleshy masses, scorch-marked floors, and menacing orange and red lights further the impression that things are not right here. As you take your first steps into a new room, the doors forebodingly close.
Combat in Wildcat Gun Machine is what you would expect from a twin-stick shooter. You avoid bullets and obstacles as you mow through the waves of mobs. Most enemies slowly push toward you while unleashing blasts of small red orbs in true bullet hell fashion. Others will simply charge at you. It requires a touch of finesse to avoid flaming skulls and the maelstrom of bullets creeping across the screen. Dying will bring you to the nearest checkpoint. You can however opt to respawn near your corpse by spending an extra life.
Your sidearm is a basic weapon but it comes with unlimited ammo making it a reliable tool. Eventually, you receive a second weapon such as a shotgun or rifle. These special weapons come with limited ammo but you can refill your stock by searching through the many rooms. Health packs and armor can also be found, encouraging full exploration of the map. Your arsenal includes grenade and dash cooldown abilities, as well as the titular gunmachine. Gunmachines charge up as you slaughter the grotesque creatures, and turning you into a bullet-hell god when unleashed.
“The Wildcat Gun Machine demo is short but sets a solid foundation of what the full game holds in store.”
At checkpoints, you can swap out and purchase weapons, extra lives or upgrade your abilities. During the demo, I got my hands on four different sidearms and two special guns. The weapons felt great but were expressed as fairly weak. This left me eager to see the more devastating options in the full release. Ability upgrades were limited to a slight improvement for both the grenade and dash.
The Wildcat Gun Machine demo is short but sets a solid foundation of what the full game holds in store. The bullet-hell mechanics are not overly punishing, nor the dungeon crawling tedious. I must add that the boss fight that concludes the demo was a tad lackluster. It felt more like a mini-boss which does leave me curious to see what comes next. With the promise of over forty different guns, giant mechs, gruesome bosses, and additional upgrades the full release should offer an extremely high level of replayability.