eXceed 2nd – Vampire is the sequel game to eXceed – Gun Bullet Children which I’ve previously reviewed. Produced by FLAT and later remade by their shooting focused brand Tennen-sozai as eXceed 2nd – Vampire REX, this game is extremely different from its predecessor.
In the previous game you played as one of the Gun Bullet Children and now you’re an enemy of the church, a vampire named Lia Fyle on a mission to help lay a siege on the Holy Land. On the way you encounter characters from the previous game as well as new ones and battle each other.
It’s a fact of life young girls are some of the most powerful entities in Japanese fiction.
The game is still divided into stages that have preliminary enemies attack you until you meet the boss for the stage but the gameplay itself changes entirely by introducing a “polarity” system that allows you to absorb enemy bullets and inflict twice the damage on enemies hit by a different polarity than the one they have. There are two polarities, holy and evil, and you can freely switch between the two to suit your needs. Absorbed bullets raise the bomb charge gauge which when full can be detonated to unleash a blast that will cancel all bullets of the opposite polarity and blast enemies on screen.
Holy Canon Blast!
The game is incredibly fun and requires quick reflexes to not get shot by any wrong bullet. The challenge also lies in trying to get bonus points, and chain bonuses for hitting enemies of reverse polarity gives incentive to start dodging instead of constantly switching polarities to absorb bullets. The game is made unnecessarily harder by having your character larger than the original game and having fatter bullets, hence making the polarity really useful in tight spaces. It’s a minor detail, but takes getting used to.
The dialogue throughout the game presents a simple but interesting look into every character’s personality and yes, the voice acting is superb and the translation simply perfect. Some of the backgrounds in the game are ones from the previous game and some newer ones are present, and although I think familiarity should be part of a series of games such a simple game should make more changes to their scenery to expand upon their flat world. The music is even more kick*** than the previous game and matches the feel of the game pretty well. The graphics feel crisper and almost everything is an improvement from the previous game.
This second installment is a sign of a great series and honestly speaking, has made eXceed one of my favorite indie games.
You can see what the game is all about by downloading the demo here. You can buy it here from a variety of sources including Steam and GameStop, but I highly recommend getting the eXceed Collection which has all three eXceed games for $9.99. And remember how I said the music kicked a**? You can download it right now. With great upbeat techno music, it’s possibly one of the best video game soundtracks in existence.
I will soon review the third and last eXceed game made so far, eXceed 3rd – Jade Penetrate.
Gun Bullet Children is a game that bloomed out of Touhou’s instant popularity. Coming from the already established Japanese indie game developer FLAT, it was the beginning of the series of vertical shooters called eXceed.
Gun Bullet Children is a simple game. As a bullet hell game, you’re going to be subjected to just that, an enormous amount of bullets and lazers coming at you from every way you have to dodge while gunning down the enemies yourself. Your main objective is to get to the boss at the last level and defeat him, the hard part is not dying en route. The enemies have a tendency to shoot in patterns and getting the rhythm down is an essential part of beating the game. Killing enemies will make them drop items the player can collect, these items are either red or blue. An essential part of the game is leveling up your character, which will make their standard attacks more powerful. That is achieved by collecting enough red items from enemies. Both red and blue items will increase your score, and when the score reaches a certain point you get an extra “life”.
The game manages to create variation through two means, the difficulty and their characters. There’s not much to say about difficulty, just your standard, easy, normal, and hard. The variation that completely changes the way you play comes from your three main characters.
The three character differ in their three methods of attack: their standard attack, counter-magic, and bomb. With each character comes a new way to play, and mastering all three will require a lot of practice.
Counter-magic can only be performed if the bar that allows it is completely full and is filled the more attacks are dodged. Bombs are only available through lives, and each life allows for the character to use three bombs, once you lose a life you can’t get the bombs from that life back. Bombs have the ultimate advantage, because while they last you are invincible and can get in the line of fire dealing even more damage to the enemy until the bomb stops.
Tinatu Kagaya is the best character to play with because her standard attack covers a broad area which is great because you can indirectly shoot at enemies while dodging their attacks and her other two attacks obliterate every enemy on the screen at once. Every time she levels up the more bullets she can shoot at once, making her standard attack cover a larger areas and cause more damage to enemies.
Sowel Devosiana has a “doll” that assists her in her attacks. Sowel shoots fire directly in front of her which makes it inconvenient when dodging attacks, but her doll shoots the enemy closest to her and doesn’t cause the player or herself damage if she’s in the line of fire, making her a very valuable asset. Counter-magic makes the doll shoot out lethal fire in 8 directions that kill all the enemies it touches and the bomb makes her grow giant and attack all on screen enemies.
Now Miyabi Housen is the most difficult character to play with. Her standard attack is just a single column of fire directly above her. Her counter-magic is very unique because it doesn’t cover the entire screen like those of her fellow main characters, it makes two fire orbs revolve around her as a form of support fire and is only ideal when dealing with short range attacks, which makes it less than ideal for boss battles.
The coolest thing she can do however is bomb. Her bomb is said to “fire a massive laser cannon” but it looks more like she harvested the power of fire and is turning the area in front of her into a fiery hell.
As simple as the game play is, it’s quite addicting. But as much as I love this game I have complaints. The backgrounds are rather drab and only Tinatu’s bomb seems to last long enough to make the most out of it. Also there’s the issue that the game is an import (in its original Japanese form). To make up for it, Nyu Media has graciously provided a page with a complete translation of the dialogue in the game for those of us that don’t speak Japanese. The game also comes with decent voice acting (Miyabi is super high pitched).
What comes out of a computer without the ability to write in Japanese.
I’m not going to say much but be aware of your enemies, because come the following game you’ll be in for a surprise.
I consider this game a must have, the game play and amazing background music make this game. Getting the game and accessing the background music file will give a great addition to anyone’s video game soundtrack collection.
As a first doujin game, this is excellent and the following games get better and better. You can get eXceed – Gun Bullet Children by itself for $2.99 but I definitely recommend getting the eXceed collection with all 3 games for $9.99, cheaper than getting each game individually. All these beautiful games are completely DRM free and great bullet hell games that rival classics like Touhou. Thanks to the localization team at Nyu Media Ltd.
The review for the second game in the series, 2nd – Vampire REX, is here.