Grand Brix Shooter is a new take on the traditional bullet-hell genre developed in-house by Korean publisher Intragames. So how does this take on the classic bullet-hell fare against the competition? This is our review of Grand Brix Shooter.
The story of Grand Brix Shooter isn’t really something I cared too much about. You start off as a young child who wakes up in a distant and unfamiliar setting, being rudely awoken by a robot that calls you Prince. You discover that you’re on an alien planet called the Brick kingdom, and you are its prince, Prince Brix. Your kingdom is being attacked by a hostile alien force, so you jump inside a small spaceship and escape. Supposedly this aircraft is the legendary Brix Core, able to fuse with other ships, taking on their abilities and becoming more powerful. The story is told in a comic-book style format that, despite automatically progressing the dialogue for you, is still nonetheless hard to follow. I got a little bit more of the story after beating every three stages or so. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think the story added anything to the experience, although it was nice to see a traditional shooter try to make me feel more invested in my aircraft pilot by providing these snippets of story.
First, I want to state clearly that I am not necessarily good at these types of bullet-hell games, but I never once felt like I was overwhelmed by the myriad of brightly-colored bullets. Instead, Grand Brix Shooter makes the genre easy-to-learn for beginners and provides nice, neon bullets that stand out against the mottled, cloudy backgrounds. Additionally, I found the yellow flashing cockpit on my aircraft immensely helpful in determining which part of my plane I needed to protect from my enemies’ bullets. Originally, I thought that no single part of my plane could touch a bullet when really, so long as my cockpit avoided stray bullets, everything else would fly harmlessly past the body of the plane. As soon as I realized this, it made my time feel much more enjoyable since I wasn’t as concerned with dodging and weaving past bullets but instead could focus on small, efficient movements to just narrowly avoid bullets.
These on-screen visual aids really helped to make me feel like a pro, as silly as that may sound. And when I did inevitably die, as I often do in bullet-hell shooters, I didn’t feel like it was unfair or that the number of bullets was un-manageable. Instead, I knew it was due to my own miscalculation in a bullet’s trajectory and that I needed to move just that one inch further away to have been safe. This gave me that Dark Souls feeling of, “I know I can do it now, I’m learning and getting better!” which kept me going after several attempts at a particular boss. Now that’s not to say Grand Brix Shooter doesn’t get challenging. Fans of similar games, like Ikaruga or Gradius, will enjoy the difficulty presented in the alternative difficulty mode for Arcade mode, as well as the Challenge Mode that introduces more difficult fights right off the bat. But these modes are optional for those that want to test their skill or put their name on the Online leaderboards to show off.
Now the real gimmick to Grand Brix Shooter is its innovative new fusion system. Periodically, what I presumed to be suspended aircraft hangers would randomly appear during stages and provided an RNG-like element where I could shoot them open and fuse my ship with the new aircraft inside. This would change up the style of how my aircraft played as well as gain new abilities to utilize in different situations. There are over 10 playable aircraft with each providing their own unique weapon-systems and special skills exclusive to that aircraft. To me, this felt more like my spaceship was equipping different types of ‘armor’ more so than fusing with the aircraft. Each aircraft also has its own HP bar, displayed at the bottom of the screen, and its own level. Fresh aircraft start at level 1, but as you defeat more enemies and collect stars that will periodically fall out of them when you destroy them, you can level up each aircraft to level 3, after which point you can still pick up stars to put your aircraft into a sort of ‘overdrive’ mode, or Super Saiyan mode as I call it since your aircraft and bullets will start glowing a phosphorescent yellow.
My favorite aircraft I’ve come across so far is the shielded Savior aircraft. The Savior will passively put up shields in front of my aircraft that not only block incoming bullets but will actually retaliate with lasers when hit as well. I had the most fun purposefully running into bullets so I could deal more damage while making sure I never let the bullets hit me dead-on in the center, where I wasn’t protected. For its special skill, however, I could create giant hexagonal shields in front of my weak point and dealt even more damage when bullets hit them.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Steam with a code provided by PR.
Compare To: Ikaruga, Gradius, R-Type, Sine Mora, Raiden