Using the same flash animation techniques used to create past Epic Battle Fantasy games, the developers were able to capture the main series' visual charm and colorful appearance. While the game itself is totally different; players will still be able to tell that Bullet Heaven is part of the Epic Battle Fantasy series with just a glimpse alone. But instead of seeing Matt, Natalie and their friends battle enemies is a horizontal, two dimensional planes, they get to view the action from above. As they flying, dodge and shoot baddies who dares cross their line of sight. Most of the enemies seen in the game might seem familiar to those who played the main series, which is actually a nice choice, since they add some nostalgia to the game.
In terms of animations, Epic Battle Fantasy 3.3: Bullet Heaven unfortunately took a step back from those found in the third game. There were hardly any animations at all, besides from basic scrolling of enemies and bullets flying towards you on screen. While there are some enemies that has some basic animations such as wings flapping, most of the enemies you will face, including bosses are just pictures scrolling on the screen. The focus apparently went to the bullets flying towards our character, which literally fills up the screen in different colors, formations and patterns.
Epic Battle Fantasy 3.3: Bullet Heaven's music is actually pretty similar to those found in the first three games. We even heard some hints of old tracks, but it could just be nostalgia setting in or maybe because the same guys made the music so there are some similarities. Still, the game's soundtrack is well made and fits the game stages quite well, especially the boss music, which gets the bloods pumping but not to the point that the player loses their concentration. With good use of digitized sounds and instruments, Bullet Heaven's music is on par with the series' classic soundtrack.
Sound effects in the game are a bit low in terms of volume compared to the soundtrack. While some sound effects are clearly heard, such as the coins, jewels and other item being acquired, others effects such as the characters weapons are hardly distinguishable and sounds really muffled. Also, a lot of things in the game do not even have any sound effects which are pretty disappointing.
Back in the days of the videogame arcades, before games like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor, games like 1942, Gradius and Ikaruga where the shooting games. While these classic games have not evolved much in terms of gameplay and graphics, they are still very fun and addictive. Epic Battle Fantasy 3.3: Bullet Heaven took the best trait of classic shooters and added some modern twist into it, such as upgrades.
The game is played from a top-view perspective where the characters move and shoot the incoming enemies while acquiring medals and power ups, while at the same time dodging enemies and bullets. Bullet Heaven takes cue from the most recent shooting games like Ikaruga in terms of gameplay, which is very distinguishable compared to other games of the genre, with it very high difficulty thanks to the hundreds of bullets flying at the player at the same time. This is really apparent once you face the bosses in the game, who can literally block out the sun with the amount of projectiles they are throwing at you. A steady hand and nerves of steel are needed to survive the onslaught of bullets.
Upgrades are provided no just in-game but at intermission as well. Normally, for games like these, the upgrades acquired per mission are not carried over to the next stage. In Bullet Heaven though, you get to upgrade your character after every level and these are permanent for the characters themselves. Gathering enough coins in the game will let you boost you health point, speed up you weapon charges and can even give you a magnetic field that attracts coins and power ups in-game. Knowing the right balance of upgrades is important especially later on when the swarm of enemies increases exponentially.
Unlocking characters and acquiring medals are added for replay value. Each character are of course from the Epic Battle Fantasy game series and added not just for cameo sake but for gameplay also since each character has a different type of projectile weapon and abilities. We advise players to just upgrade the starting character instead of waiting of the others to unlock later on since the upgrades carry over from one character to other anyway.
Concentration, skills and nerves of steel can only get you so far. Controls in a game like Bullet Heaven, with its high difficulty are very important and the developer knows this. This is why they added the options to change controls schemes, whether the player is more comfortable using the mouse or if they prefer using the keyboard, these can all be customize in the options menu. This also has a cheat option for those who really can not survive the games difficulty, in exchange for lower ranking and scores.
Epic Battle Fantasy Bullet Heaven might not be the game people are waiting for from Matt Roszak's team. But it was certainly a nice surprise, especially for fans of classic shooting games like us. While the game's high difficulty level will definitely keep a lot of player away. Bullet Heaven is still highly recommendable for its fun gameplay. It is definitely something worth trying for those waiting of Epic Battle Fantasy 4 to come out.