Metal Torrent (DSiWare)

Game Review

Metal Torrent Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Bullet hell with training wheels

Most gamers are familiar with "bullet hell" shooters: shoot-'em-ups with so many enemy projectiles that over half the screen is covered in them at most times. Despite this, however, many Western gamers haven't actually played any (as a lot of them are Japan-exclusive) and only know them from YouTube videos. Metal Torrent is the very first of its kind published by Nintendo, and as such it includes some features geared towards newcomers.

Like Star Soldier R, it's more about improving your score than making it through all levels, so don't expect a robust, decently sized main game. One game consists of eight "phases," or levels, each of which has more enemies (and thus more bullets) than the last. Your objective is nothing more than to blast as many of them as possible, trying to rack up a good combo and getting a ton of points out of it. Three phases also feature a boss, although it's really the same one three times, with slightly more attack power in every encounter.

There's two different modes of play: you can either play with fixed enemy patterns, or random ones so that you don't know what the enemy formations will be like and what types of projectiles they'll fire. The difference is really hardly noticeable, because most enemies die less than half a second after they enter the screen!

What does make a major difference is the spaceship you select. You can either pick the Red Orion or the Blue Nova, respectively one geared towards bullet hell newcomers and the other for pros only. When positioned at the center of the bottom of the screen, the Red Orion's cone of laser fire will practically cover the entire top half of the screen; all you really need to do is dodge bullets.

It also has a special attack that destroys all bullets on the screen, if you think you're in an inescapable position. This uses up part of an energy bar displayed on the screen not featuring the main gameplay; this is one of very few games that allows you to switch what takes place on which screen, so you can either play on the top or the bottom one.

But the thing that really makes the Red Orion so good for beginners is the fact that bullets won't destroy it. They'll pass right through you, and you'll only lose part of your energy bar if you get hit by several. Direct contact with enemy ships will instantly take off the same chunk of energy, but when is that ever going to happen?

Your ship won't explode until the energy bar is completely emptied, but you really have to be trying to pull that off — every single enemy you destroy will give you a pickup that restores a very tiny bit of energy. As enemies usually appear by the hundreds, the bar will refill in no time! Even if this is the very first shoot-'em-up game you ever play, expect to make it through the game with zero deaths if you pick the Red Orion.

The Blue Nova's a completely different story, and it will probably go unselected by 99% of all Metal Torrent players. Contact with any bullet or enemy ship will instantly kill you. On top of that, its range of fire is shorter than that of the Red Orion (although it's still fairly big) and the bullet-destroying special attack is instead an extra strong laser beam attack which goes straight forward. As very few enemies take more than one shot to destroy, and the thinness of the beam severely limits the area you can cover, you'll only really find yourself using this on the bosses.

Aside from trying to improve your score, there's not much else to Metal Torrent. There's online leaderboards for both game modes with both ships (so four leaderboards total), and you can watch replays of the top 10 scorers on each one, but don't expect to get on there yourself as there's some serious shoot-'em-up nuts out there.

The graphics at first appear somewhat impressive: the backgrounds are all 3D and look pretty decent. But there's only three different areas in the game, and in each it's really just a very small area that's repeating over and over. The music is as generic as it could possibly be, and will go completely unnoticed by most.


With only one real, fairly short game mode (the pattern randomization doesn't do that much, after all) and two ships catering to two very specific groups of players, Metal Torrent will only appeal to two types of people: those who are interested in bullet hell shooters but haven't actually played any, and those who are already highly skilled at them. Anybody inbetween should look elsewhere for their shoot-'em-up fix — the Virtual Console, perhaps?

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User Comments (31)



fishman100 said:

Another shooter (yaaaaaaay), but right now i only have like 14 cents in my wallet, so i'll have to wait...



JonWahlgren said:

@Jimmy: You miss out on a lot of good stuff then.

I've never gotten into the bullet hell thing, but I'd probably give this a shot. The red ship sounds me-friendly.



Boman said:

I adore bullet hell shmups!
I arrived 6th (in the leaderboard) in one of the game modes.
that didn't last long though ; (
I hope more shoot 'em ups are released soon.
Lots of bullets, lots of names:
Manic Shooters / Bullet Hell / Bullet Curtain.
Go check out some bullet hell videos on youtube,
you will be amazed.



Kyloctopus said:

I'm not so fond with the bullet hell genre could someone give me an example of a bullet hell game



IanUniacke said:

@Boman: I have been at 2nd place on some of the leaderboards, usually can hold onto around 4th place on red. Also I haven't played many bullet hell shooters before, I think you get high scores by understanding one important factor.

One thing that I think people are missing about this game that is really important is that when you destroy bullets they become metal cubes that go towards your ship and power up your special attack. That means you can destroy more bullets and get more power and you kind of want to set up a feedback system (hence the name Metal Torrent). The idea of this game (to me) is not so much about avoiding bullets as it is about destroying them and keeping the screen clear. This can bring your max chain up to around 2000 cubes which is crucial for high scores. Also you want as many total cubes as possible for that other end of game bonus.

Here is where the challenge comes in...the more you blow up bullets, the more exposed you are to dying. The pros want to keep their energy as close to the edge as is safe so that they can keep getting more cubes without getting hit while they're exposed.

That's why random versus pattern is so important. If you know what's coming up you can push yourself to the edge more at certain points (eg "oh the next guys don't fire much bullets so I can restore my energy then"). In random you must play more conservatively because going into certain enemies with no energy can mean certain doom.

Where blue is different to red is primarily the way in which you destroy bullets. Red you can just smart bomb them away, in a radius around the ship. In blue, holding down the special weapon creates a force field that slows down bullets near by. You will need to kill an enemy using the laser beam and then any bullets within the force field are destroyed. Also any bullets fired by the enemy you killed with the laser will be destroyed. This technique is crucial to making it through the blue stage as you will find it incredibly difficult to dodge all bullets. Keep in mind I have not yet cleared all 8 phases in blue (my best is to reach the 8th phase).



KeeperBvK said:

Good to see a fair, elaborate review after the first look at the Japanese version.



Shiryu said:

I would be downloading this ASAP, but I won't... I have no DSiWare titles downloaded and I probably won't have any until Nintendo steps ups and offers us a solution to transfer these (and Wii's) purchase games between different consoles. Too bad, I'm really sucker for shmups of any kind...



3230ru said:

"Anybody inbetween should look elsewhere" - but they will find nothing else in western DS releases.



postmanX3 said:

I love me a good bullet hell, so I'll be picking this up when it hits US shores. Although, I doubt it can ever top my current favorite bullet hell -- that being Espgaluda II.



cheapogamer4life said:

Im not much into these types of game but I do love my cart version of Geometry Wars so i'll have to pass on this one. I do like how this one has the online leaders boards that really gives players something to work for.

@ sylverstone:
crosses his fingers
maybe....500 np's



WildPidgeyAppears said:

I personally never got the obsession with bullet hell. As someone who swears by and was weaned on the greats like R-Type, I prefer strategic memorization to blind luck. Even Gradius, which is notorious for quickly becoming hard, is more fair to the gamer than most of these. They just seem as though they make you rely on pure chance and the way the games flood the screen with shots...I'll take my Star Soldier games over these any day. Still, if I had a DSi, I would get this, sounds much friendlier than most games of this type.



Rizzo1 said:

I got this today and love it. It's not a very long game, you can play it in about twelve minutes, but it's still sweet. Recca Summer Carnival was an amazing game but it wasn't too long either. But thanks to this and a few other shooters coming soon, X-Scape and Turvies Strike Back DSiware is starting to suck less and less. If only they'd stop releasing Sudoku and card games, leaving more room for their other better games, it would be so sweet.



joek0 said:

Here is my first attempt score for red ship, pattern mode, all 8 phases: 90,811,936 with a Max chain of 1540. Is that a pretty good first score.



Rerun said:

A SHMUP with no comments from Sean?!?!?! What's the world coming to?!?!?!

Seriously, I would download this in a heartbeat but I can't think of any other game to download to make the most out of my 2000 points card. I got the Metallic Blue DSi and it has all the other potential games that I want to get on DSiWare.

I wish Nintendo would fixt the currency system to allow me to share points between my DSi and Wii. If they can link Club Nintendo, why not link the points as well!



lOnE-WolF said:

Fair review overall. I think you summed the game up quite well. Personally, I'd recommend this to anyone who has an extra 500 points, because while it might be a bit short, it's enjoyable and provides enough challenge in the hard mode whitout being needlessly difficult for a bullet hell. And the online leader board is a nice extra implementation, albeit not something especially amazing.



rjejr said:

So, bad form to post on a 2 year old review? Seems like a good use of 150 coins though, my 7 yr. old - fresh off of finishing Kid Icarus yesterday - would really like a SHMUP you can't possibly die in. Maybe the Easter bunny will leave a redeemable code in his basket



rayword45 said:

Fun little SHMUP, but unless you need a dosage of bullet hell or want online leaderboards that badly, 99Bullets is a MUCH better choice for a shoot-em-up.



Chariblaze said:

Worth the 150 coins, not the $5. That's just from someone who never does anything with high scores.



Adam said:

Every time I saw Red Orion in the review, I thought it said Red Onion. It would have been better as Red Onion.

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