The Underappreciated Modern Bullet Hell Genre

A Genre Long Dead Makes Its Triumphant Return.

modern bullet hell
Modern Bullet Hell Genre

Gone are the days of retro gaming, dominated by a classical genre of games that has seemed to fall out of favor and declined steadily since the golden age of gaming.

Key Takeaways

  • The Bullet Hell genre was very popular in the infancy of video games as an entertainment medium.
  • It started dying out after the introduction of home consoles.
  • It was completely missing for the majority of the modern era.
  • The genre is slowly coming back due to a rising distaste for modern game design philosophy.

This isn’t to say that bullet hell games are gone but rather exist in fragments of other games and sections as can be seen in the Nier franchise. However, more recently titles such as Vampire Survivors, Holocure, Swarmlake, Touhou Project, etc have been shown to get significant attention and even retain their player base for long periods.

How The Bullet Hell Genre Became A Staple

First, we have to go back and see why the genre began to die out and why it has begun its resurgence in the current video game climate. To put everything in perspective we have to know that bullet hell shooter games were mainly designed for arcade cabinets back during the bronze age of video games.

This meant the design philosophy for games was quick, fun, and replayable.

Courtesy: Classic Arcade Museum

This philosophy would slowly begin to shift with the golden age of video games where arcades were slowly being phased out and home consoles were becoming the norm.

This meant that that a game would still follow the standard design philosophy by replacing quick with somewhat lengthy since people would buy a game and were expecting to get a certain amount of playtime out of it.

Modernization Of Bullet Hell In The Current Landscape

Fast forwarding to the modern age of video games you would be hard-pressed to find any game with the same design philosophy. Now the sole focus was being put on multiplayer, online micro-transactions, and keeping you addicted rather than entertained.

The general population of players had started picking up on this and had become tired of the endless tirade of carbon copies. Frustrations were high and still are with AAA game companies for simply scalping money from the customer while delivering a subpar and often incomplete product.

That meant there was a gap in the market for passionate developers to shine through and for a long-dead genre to make its return.

Courtesy: EA / Anthem

The antithesis of your average modern-era game was now bullet hell games which started making a return in terms of popularity, although it is important to note that bullet hell may have died in the West but it was and is quite alive in the Eastern market.

Gamers began to gravitate towards these games as they offered little to no commitment in terms of time investment and grinding but rather simple plug-and-play fun.

Courtesy: Steam Charts

We even see bullet hell games modernizing their formula with creativity rather than simply graphics. Changes and innovation to gameplay while still maintaining the core identity of a bullet hell game is a challenge but most modern developers have found a way to circumvent the growing pains that come with such innovations.

Are You Ready To Jump In?

Even to this day bullet hell games have not regained the popularity they once had but players are taking notice slowly but surely and it’s only a matter of time before they make their triumphant return. Take last year’s Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon for example.

So I implore you, if you are tired of today’s games go out and try one of the few games we mentioned since they are either relatively cheap or free compared to most major AAA titles (with exceptions of course.)

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