REVIEW: Rolling Gunner

Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

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oprainfall | Rolling Gunner
Title Rolling Gunner
Developer mebius
Publisher mebius
Release Date June 20th, 2019
Genre Action, Arcade, Shoot ‘Em Up
Platform Nintendo Switch
Age Rating E10+ (ESRB)
Official Website

In the year 2034, a metallic element known as Busterium was discovered on the floor of the Pacific Ocean in the world of Rolling Gunner. It was a discovery that promised to truly change the world, but things would go terribly wrong. Almost a decade later in 2043, Lerman Matsunaga (a multinational corporation) developed Buster Engines powered by Busterium ore. They began testing them in power plants and large machines. The BAC (Bustersystem All Controller), a central computer to control Busterium technology, was also created. By 2053, the Busterium engines had gotten much smaller and replaced fossil fuels and nuclear power. On January 23rd, 2061, the BAC isolates itself from humanity without warning, and uses the vast amount of machines it controls to do its bidding. It also begins using Buster Engines to create new machines to take over Earth. A group within Lerman Matsunaga foresaw this possible eventuality and developed a secret weapon, the “Rolling Gun”. When their fears were confirmed, they quickly readied it and released it on March 11th. March 18th begins the mission to destroy the BAC, which has converted Lerman Matsunaga into a fortress. Now it’s up to you to pilot a small fighter ship as humanity’s last hope against the rogue AI. Can you survive against the crazy odds?

Rolling Gunner | Ship Launch

You and the Rolling Gunner launch to begin this precarious mission.

In Rolling Gunner, pilots with excellent skills were chosen for this mission, one that is likely humanity’s last hope. As one such pilot, you have had a “Rolling Gun” control unit installed in your brain. The gunship comes in three variants to choose from. The RF-42RX Stork is the basic one. There is also the much faster, highly agile RF-42RS Super Stork. However, its projectiles do not spread out while firing. Finally, you can also choose the RF-42RA Attack Stork. This variant is slower, but its projectiles spread out more than the basic one, which is great for taking out large groups of small enemies.

Rolling Gunner | Fighter Select

The fighter selection screen shows information for the three fighter variants you can play as.

Once you’re strapped into your pilot’s seat, you can fly around with the left stick. The rolling gun fires green projectiles as it follows you around, always facing the opposite direction your ship is moving in. However, once you begin firing, it will lock in place until you release the button. You can fire with the Y or ZR buttons. This is your basic fighter mode, but you also have a gunner mode. In this one, the gun will not lock in place when you start firing. You can enter this mode by double pressing Y, or just pressing ZR. Your ship has its own guns that always fire blue projectiles forward, too. This is a bullet hell game though, so you’re going to need some help from your trusty bombs, which can be deployed by pressing ZL to clear enemies and their projectiles.

Rolling Gunner | Bullets everywhere!

Large enemies and bosses will inundate your screen with projectiles and probably kill you multiple times! That vertical green bar on the right is its health.

You will spend most of your time blasting your foes and trying hard to dodge a bazillion projectiles that unfortunately all have your name on them! The game has four difficulty modes: Novice, Casual, Original, and Expert. You have infinite continues in all of them. On easier modes, only one bomb is expended per use. However, this goes up in the higher difficulty levels, and the enemies shoot even more bullets with differing patterns in some cases.

Rolling Gunner | Baddies

Baddies constantly appear and try to stop you, and some can spew a huge amount of bullets. The guys in this image are tame.

Rolling Gunner has a scoring system. You can earn points by killing enemies and collecting the medals they drop. The game will keep track of your high scores. You’ll need some luck to keep besting yourself, especially since your score gets reset to zero any time you run out of lives and use a continue. You may have noticed a green dot on your ship. It represents the collision area. Projectiles and obstacles will only hurt you if they collide with this circle, which makes dodging hordes of bullets easier, but still challenging with the sheer volume of bullets some enemies, especially bosses, will send at you. Bombs are very helpful, but they are limited since you never have too many of them. Use them wisely.

Rolling Gunner | Bosses

Bosses and large enemies drop a ton of medals, but you have to fly close enough to them to collect them before they fall off the bottom of the screen.

The gameplay of Rolling Gunner is fast-paced and quite hectic. You will die many times, as it’s not uncommon to get caught in a spot where it becomes impossible to dodge. The bosses have big, satisfying explosions when they die. However, I did notice one issue. It is not uncommon for bosses in particular to spew so many bullets at you that it starts affecting the frame rate noticeably. It’s a minor issue that doesn’t break the game, though.

Rolling Gunner | Flying Over Land

This mission has you flying over land, with both aerial and ground-based enemies like tanks, some of which are huge.

The music is fast-paced, with a techno style that fits the hectic action. The sound effects are also good, and make blasting your enemies out of the sky more satisfying.

Rolling Gunner | Shooting Both Ways

Shooting forward and backward at the same time is a must when enemies come at you from both sides.

Rolling Gunner is a Japanese bullet hell shoot ’em up. The game may have limited staying power, as it only has six stages. The four difficulty levels and three ship variants can certainly keep you busy for a while. If you like going for high scores, it will probably keep you busy much longer. I’ve beaten the game on three of the four difficulty modes, and that took two to three hours of total gameplay. The game is available now on the Nintendo Switch eShop for $19.99. There is also a PC version, but it is only available through two Japanese distributors, which you can find out about on the official website. Can you survive the grueling onslaughts of bullets and stop the BAC computer?

Review Score

Review copy provided by publisher.

About Michael Fontanini

Michael is a veteran gamer in my early 30s, who grew up around video games, with fond memories of the oldies like the NES and SNES. He loves Nintendo but also plays a lot of games on his PC. Michael also enjoys going for walks or bike rides, and loves animals.

Michael is also a computer programmer. This started with a toy he got as a kid called PreComputer 1000 that was made by V-Tech. It had a simple programming mode which is what started him down the road of being a programmer! Michael can program in BASIC, Visual Basic, C++, C#, and is familiar with Java and Lua Script.

Putting programming and gaming together, Michael became a hobbyist game developer which may give him some good insights on game development! Most recently, he has been playing with the free version of the Unity engine (a powerful and easy-to-use game engine).

I love Nintendo but I also play a lot of game's on PC, many of which are on steam. My favorite Nintendo game's include Zelda, Metroid, and Smash Bros to name a few. On PC I love the Half-Life games, as well as most all of the Source Engine games just to name a few.