I backed Bullet❤️ by Level99 games after watching the Dicebreaker ‘Let’s Play’ and listening to the team gush about it on the podcast for being such a fun and different kind of game. The game is inspired by the shoot-em-up/bullet hell style video games you can find on Steam, games that are frantic and quick and you have to think fast to see how long you can survive.
The video is from May 2020 so of course Alex and Johnny couldn’t play in person, instead using a mod made for Tabletop Simulator. I actually played the game this way earlier this week and it was a lot of fun but OH did it make me itch to play with real friends around a table.
Bullet❤️ comes with a rich lore, each of the heroines has their own unique bio in the back. The note in the front of the guide makes it clear that Level99 has big plans for this game – in fact, the day after my game arrived on my doorstep, I received an email from Level99 announcing the first expansion (and the new heroines have already been added to the TTS mod!). This is the first game in their “Launch 99” series, a way to encourage pre-orders of games and expansions without having to go the Kickstarter route.
Bullet❤️ has several ways to play – 1 player (Score Attack), 4 player (Free for all), Teams (2v2) and a boss fight mode (the back of each heroine’s card has her Boss form). I played Score Attack to teach myself the basics of the game.
Here is the basic setup for solo play – on the left is my heroine of choice. I chose Adelheid because she had a rating of “easy” complexity and also how could I not pick this awesome composer who fights with the power of music? The center is where the bullets will go, firing into their color zone. You count the empty spaces and place the bullet. If you run out of spots, it means your Heroine has taken damage. 4 hits and she is out of the game. But don’t worry, you can use power-ups (on the right) to manipulate the bullets placement and use patterns (card across the top) to remove the bullets.
In the “Score Attack” solo mode, you keep playing to see how long you can last. Each bullet you clear you place on the “intensity track” and at the start of the next round, you take that many new bullets from the center bag plus the number on the intensity track.
There is an element of “push your luck” the further you get into the game and the more bullets you start out with in your bag – do you use a pattern now and just try to make some space or do you draw one more bullet to see if it could be cleared to? I will admit, I got greedy at the end and drew when I should have cleared, causing that final hit!
I purchased the deluxe edition of the game, which gave me wooden tokens for the bullets and I have to say I LOVE the feel of them a lot more than the cardboard ones that come standard. I mean, no offense to the cardboard ones, but these feel sturdier and that they will last many games.
ANYWAY, in the 4 player free-for-all version of the game, instead of putting your removed bullets on the intensity track, you make a pile of them and at the end of the round, the person to your left gets them added to their bag for the following round. Think of when you play ‘Tetris’ or ‘Dr. Mario’ multiplayer and remove a line, player 2 would get that random garbage on their screen.
In the 4 player version, turns are taken simultaneously. Players keep pulling bullets from their bag, using attack points to active power-ups and creating patterns to allow them to remove bullets from their board. If a player manages to empty their bullet bag and survive the round, they get to pick from the bonus power-ups in the center of the table.
Rounds are technically supposed to only last 3 minutes at most, but since I’m still relatively new to the game, I haven’t tried to enforce that rule yet. BUT the game does have an awesome soundtrack and each tune is exactly 3 minutes long, meaning you can use it to time your game and add a little extra flavor to the proceedings. You can listen to the soundtrack on Spotify and Bandcamp now!
After my solo game, I did play with some friends on Tabletop Simulator and we did free for all mode. It was a LOT of fun. It did take a minute to explain the rules, but I think Bullet<3 is really best taught in the moment, if you can learn that way. One or two practice rounds where everyone draws bullets and the person who brought the game can walk them through basic placement.
It was really fun in TTS, though I know in real life it will be even more frantic. On TTS, I had to scroll around to see how other players were doing (apart from just listening to their shouts of joy or moans of getting the wrong number), but in person, I will be able to quickly glance around and see if my opponent has a huge pile of bullets for me or if someone else has completed their draw already and I’m still fiddling around.
I’m really loving this game. The whole look of it is just damn cool – I really think my friends agreed to play because of how cool it looked LOL. Each character has their own unique patterns and power-ups so you’ll want to try them all to see who fits your style. I can’t wait to try out the other modes, especially the boss fight! This is going to be a great one to play at the start of a game night, to get everyone’s excitement up and ready to go! Even though it only has 4 players max, this could easily become a kind of showdown game, with everyone in your group taking turns and then challenging the winner of the last game. At only 3 minutes per round and each game probably only lasting 5 rounds if you’re just starting out, it wouldn’t take long to go through a bigger group. Everyone else can eat their pizza and cheer on their favorite heroine.
I can’t wait to play this with my friends at an actual table!!!