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Game Review: eXceed - Gun Bullet Children

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The eXceed series consists of three fan-made Japanese shoot-em-ups in the “bullet hell”/danmaku/modern style where there are tons of bullets on-screen and only a tiny part of your ship/character can get hit.

The eXceed series got off to a very rocky start. And I’ll be honest: I didn’t play too much of eXceed - Gun Bullet Children before writing this. This is going to be a very short review.

Technical Issues

I tried playing this on a fairly new PC running Windows 8 (x64). This game ran at 30 frames per second. It didn’t skip frames but instead slowed down to an unplayable crawl.

There’s a post on the Steam with some tips on how to get this running on modern systems: [Fix Framerate] in newer systems Forall eXceed Games in Full screen. After applying the ‘NOGDIHwAcceleration’ fix, I got around 50 fps. Applying the ‘Disable8And16BitD3D’ got me to 60 fps but completely messed-up the UI, making it unusable.

There’s another problem: the game isn’t translated. Nyu Media prepared translations for eXceed 2nd and eXceed 3rd, but the first game in the franchise was (apparently) unable to be translated due to technical problems. Which is very understandable. The Steam page and the official English site for the eXceed series don’t hide this fact. Apparently, the pause menu is also untranslated and is apparently just some text in the upper-left corner of the screen.

So we have terrible framerate and translation bugs. There’s a third issue: it forces you to play it in full-screen. Low resolutions often looked good on CRTs, but the game looks terrible when stretched-out on an LCD screen.

The World’s Hardest Easy Mode

I play shoot-em-ups on easy. I’m terrible at them. Utterly terrible. But I enjoy playing them. eXceed - Gun Bullet Children is cursed with what could be the world’s hardest easy mode.

For most modern shoot-em-ups with difficulty settings, the easiest mode is pretty gentle. Bullets are less numerous and slower than they are on other difficulties.

Imagine my surprise when a grunt enemy (not even a boss) filled the screen with bullets that moved fairly quickly. I didn’t make it far.

Design Issues?

Okay, I just admitted to not playing past the first stage. But I think that there might be problems with this game other than straight-up difficulty. I did not want to continue playing the game after the first few minutes: it’s really basic in many regards. Its scoring system is ‘shoot stuff and get pickups’ and the music is okay. I could go on and on about it, but I won’t because I’d rather talk other (better) games in the series.

Controller Notes

Every game in the eXceed series supports controllers. However, be sure to use a controller where the D-Pad/stick is not detected as a hat switch. This applies to Xbox 360 controllers (D-Pad is a hat switch on PC) and some arcade sticks.

I primarily used two controllers to play games in this series: a Dual Shock 2 (using a USB adapter) and a PS3 WWE All Stars Brawl Pad. Both worked just fine.