Note 1: This game is an SNES reproduction. It was played on the Analogue Super NT console. It was connected to a 39-inch HD-tv through an HDMI cable.
Note 2: This will be a mini review, and a rather simplistic overview of the game. There is an excellent FAQ online with more great info on this game.
Brief History: Ball Bullet Gun: Survival Game Simulation was released for the Super Famicom in Japan in 1995. It was never officially translated and did not receive an official U.S. release. Today, however, the game has been (wonderfully) translated into English, and can now be played on the SNES.
Genre: Strategy RPG
Players: 1 or 2 Player VS. *This review, for now, solely focuses on the 1P campaign.
Saving: The game saves automatically after every Mission you complete. You can also save in the middle of a Mission and come back later; this is useful as some Missions can last close to an hour, depending on how you play and the size of the Map for an individual Mission.
Gameplay: In B.B. Gun, you must first create a team of soldiers for your own personal army. You must give your team/army a name, and then select 8 soldiers from a large pool of combatants. Your first choice is your Leader – this soldier is always in on every Mission. You are able to select other soldiers based on specific criteria, including Attack Power, Defense Ability, number of HP (Hit Points), and ‘Search’ Ability (field of vision range). You are able to name your soldiers as well, or simply use their given ‘code names.’
Next, you’re ready to begin your Missions. You select between 2 and 6 soldiers (each Mission has a set number of soldiers you can use) in individual ‘simulated battle’ scenarios. Your team faces off against the Enemy Team, and both teams have an objective to complete in order to win the battle. There are 24 different Missions to complete in the game, sectioned off into Easy, Normal, and Hard (8 Missions each).
Some of the Missions include: Flag Battle, where the first team to touch their enemy’s flag wins; Rescue the Hostage, where your team must secure a hostage, keep him from then getting gunned down by the Enemy Team, and take him safely back to your base; No Man Left Standing, where you must take out every member of the opposing team, as well as others!
This is a Strategy game, so each team takes turns. The settings of the Missions vary from offices, to jungles, to snow fields. Your team always goes first, and each of your soldiers has a set number of Action Points (AP) per turn. Action Points allow your soldier to Move, Attack, Charge (Reload), Search (look for enemies in a specific cardinal direction), or use a Special (a character specific move like Replenish Health or using Grenades).
You typically begin each Mission by moving your soldiers across the Map, searching for or being on the lookout for Enemy Team soldiers. B.B. Gun is a ‘fog of war’ game, so you won’t be able to see any enemy soldiers until they enter one of your soldiers field of vision (or, his ‘Search’ screen, which is indicated by illuminated squares on screen – some soldiers have bigger fields of visions than others).
Once you see an enemy, you’ll often want to try to attack him or her IF you have enough AP (Action Points) on that turn to finish him off with Attacks, or if you have another one of your soldiers nearby to help. If you choose to Attack, you can use a ‘Main’ Arm (big gun, like a machine gun or shotgun) or a ‘Side’ Arm (like a pistol or a knife). All soldiers, both on your team and the Enemy Team, have a set number of HP (Hit Points), typically between 4 and 7. You must attack Enemy Team soldiers until their HP reaches 0 to eliminate them from the Mission!
Different soldiers in your army are more or less effective when it comes to long and short range attacks. When you attack an Enemy, depending on how close you are once he’s in your field of vision, you’ll see a letter between A-E on screen if you’re able to reach him with a gunshot. ‘A’ indicates a high probability of a hit, while ‘E’ indicates a low probability. Additionally, before Missions begin, you can select from a pool of Main Arms and Side Arms, all of which vary in their range and capacity – some guns have great range, but a small capacity or magazine, meaning you’ll need to reload, or charge, them more frequently after firing them.
When it’s the Enemy Team’s ‘turn,’ you won’t be able to see where his soldiers are moving on the main Map; instead, the screen swaps to a ‘stage’ scene, where you can view each Enemy Team members’ turn and how they’re using their Action Points. *You CAN listen to the sounds the Enemy Team soldiers make when they’re walking – this may indicate if they’re treading through tall grass or crossing a river, which can give you an indication of where they may be on the map. *Note – you can also view the entire map, minus the locations of the Enemy Team, at any time when it’s your team’s turn.
After completing certain missions, you’ll ‘win’ new guns that will be added to your gun pool, or, on a few occasions, former Enemy Team soldiers will join your squad – these soldiers often have better abilities than your own original selections, and you’ll use them often!
Each Mission has a set number of Turns before the Mission ends. If you don’t complete your objective in the given number of turns, you lose.
Scores: After completing a Mission, you’ll be given a score based on how many ‘turns’ it took you to complete the Mission, how many of your own soldiers were killed, and how many of the Enemy Team soldiers you killed. If you manage to get a score totaling 3,500 or more, you’ll receive a ‘Star’ medal, and one of your soldier’s abilities will increase by a point (ex. Accuracy, Evasion, Hit Points, etc.). Scores lower than 3,500 receive gold, silver, or bronze medals. Once I got what I think was a ‘Kitty Face’ sticker for a score that was around 1,500.
The Southern Gentleman’s Opinion and Letter Grade: A+ Ball Bullet Gun: Survival Simulation Game took hold of me like few ‘old’ games have. I’d never played Strategy games before, but I liked the look of this one, so I wanted to give it a try. The first few tries, I thought, “Wow, this is boring,” and I got frustrated when I’d lose a Mission because my last soldier couldn’t finish off the enemy from one space away. But I stuck with it. I figured out how to equip my soldiers with the right guns, how to pair off certain soldiers together, how to make use of Special abilities – and I LOVED this game. It requires, to some extent, some luck, in addition to your careful planning – the Enemy Team is no slouch on many of the Missions, and the game often handicaps you, giving your team one less man or woman than the Enemy Team. But it is FUN, and the thrill of finally beating a Mission (particularly one you’ve lost multiple times on) is awesome.
The soldiers themselves have an incredible charm to them as well. They’re huge and full of life. The game has excellent replay value as well, as there are incentives to replay Missions in order to get a score over 3,500 in order to ‘Level Up’ your soldiers. The translation is perfect (although there is some type of language glitch on the ‘Shoot the Cans‘ mission that doesn’t affect gameplay). Highly, highly recommended game that is one of the best SNES games I’ve ever played!