Super Bullet Break is a game composed of many genres smooshed into one package. Part RPG, part rogue-like, part Gacha game without all the MTX, and full-on deck builder, Super Bullet Break will put your strategic planning to the test. It is, also, a game that, despite all these components, will only appeal to a select crowd. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but with all the quality deck builders already out there, does this one have what it takes to make you look in its direction?
The premise is weirdly topical. Online games are threatened by a rogue A.I. and it’s up to you and your friends to dive into these games and, with the help of the game’s characters, undo the damage done by the rogue A.I. and its “Buggos”.
Super Bullet Break doesn’t do anything specifically great with its story, but it does use it to help flesh out the world and its characters through message text dialogue on your phone and with enough visual novel-style dialogue boxes scattered across the game. It’s a nice addition to a game that really doesn’t need it.
If you’ve played a deck builder before, then you’ll know how this is going to play – you start off with a basic random deck and you have to build it up as you go. Battles play out in a turn-based manner with a series of blocks counting down the start of the enemy’s turn. Each card – “bullets” as they’re known here – uses up a certain amount of blocks, meaning you have to make each turn count. You can’t just throw out your heaviest hitting bullet as it could use up far too many blocks, leaving you in a bad strategic place. Hell, you can never just throw out your heaviest hitting bullets without a plan or else it will always come back to bite you in the ass.
Each bullet comes with its own attack rating, basic abilities, and special abilities. Learning what works with what, and what affects what, is the key to victory. Some bullets give you shields or armour as they attack, which can be stacked. Others will buff you or start a chain combo. Knowing each of these abilities are the key to victory and what they do – such as shields and armour absorbing blows for you – is the difference between winning a battle or losing.
Each game takes place across a series of massive maps, full of different blocks that represent enemy encounters, rest areas, shops, treasure boxes, and “events”. You have to choose your path across the map, with each block giving you access to three others. Depending on the maps random generation, it’s possible to make it across a map without battling until you reach the final boss, but this creates a risk/reward scenario. Battles won earn you both money and new bullets. The bullets may be random, but you do need to get more if you want to stand a chance against, well, everything really. You can also pick up more bullets from Events, which are also random and can give you anything from a friendly NPC, to a quiz to a hard mini-boss fight. You can also pick up more cards in shops either by buying tickets – or ones you can get from Events – to get a random roll.
While you’ll eventually begin to recognise the same starting Bullets, there’s no actual deck building by you choosing what to take with you into battle. It’s all random and the only thing you can do at a rest stop is swap out your bullets cartridge, which is basically changing what special effects that bullet has. This makes getting specific cards you want a bit of a crap shoot. And with over 160 bullets to collect, there’s a lot of random rolling.
Heart of The Cards
However, there is one major caveat to Super Bullet Break. And that is its difficulty level. This game is hard, stupidly hard from the get go in fact. Overlooking the fact that there are no tutorials to get you up to speed with, the game drops you into the deep end with an unforgiving difficulty level that gets harder around the halfway mark. And that’s saying something when, from the get go, even low level enemy encounters can wipe you out.
On the map screen, encounter difficulty is indicated by stars but even one-star encounters, which can have you going up against one to three enemies, can drastically reduce your health. Sure, it gets easier as you figure out how to use your deck, but that doesn’t reduce the sting of making it to a boss fight with half – or less – of your total health pool. While you can buy items in the shops to debuff enemies or top up your health, rest stops will only restore a third to half of your health.
Now bear in mind that there’s no levelling up, so your health pool always stays the same unless you pick up a bullet that adds an extra health point. And when you make it to a boss at the end of the map – with half your health or all of it – only to find an enemy that has three times your health, with ads, and each of them can attack multiple times per turn, and you’ve got a very stressful time on your hands. And, just for the sake of making it even harder, there’s no saving. If you get wiped out, it’s game over and you have to start. All. Over. Again.
That’s right, a wipe takes you all the way back to the beginning of the level with that same starter deck and it’s time to rebuild and refight all over again. More than once I had to put my Switch down and take a walk as the aggravation grew. Now, I’m no strategic mastermind, but even I can roll a relatively good plan. When you’re wiped in a couple of turns due to an unfair difficulty spike, it’s just disheartening.
Visually, Super Bullet Break comes in an attractive, if minimalist package. 3D elements are kept to a bare minimum and the focus is on 2D art, which is rather prettily drawn. That said, it’s definitely aimed at the waifu crowd, with the focus on various anime looks and suggestive poses. Attack animations are rather bare bones, with NPCs and characters reacting to something thrown their way rather than actual visual effects most of the time. It’s very reminiscent of those early 90’s sprite-based FPSs and RPGs. As such, performance is the last thing you’ll ever have to worry about.
Wrapping up, Super Bullet Break may sport some great 2D artwork but, with an unforgiving difficulty curve, random bullet acquisition, and complete reset on death, it will appeal to only the most hard-core of deck builders and waifu fans who have the urge to “collect them all”.
A review code for Super Bullet Break was provided to gameblur by the publisher
Super Bullet Break (Nintendo Switch) ReviewSuper Bullet Break (Nintendo Switch) Review
- Good 2D art
- Strategic thinking required
- Having to start runs right from the beginning
- Unforgiving difficulty