Flying Red Barrel Review
Flying Red Barrel ~Diary of a Little Aviator~, released for download on September 29, 2009, is Rockin' Android's latest foray into the bullet hell genre. With colorful graphics and innovative scoring mechanics, this shoot 'em up certainly does not disappoint.
For a bullet-hell, Flying Red Barrel is deceptively simple. The player controls an airplane charged with keeping the skies free of piracy, which entails fighting enemies in the form of other aviators or flying birds. The main character is never named on-screen but is recognized by the antagonists as a pilot with considerable skill.
Flying Red Barrel praises itself on it's bold graphics and with good reason. While it is no Touhou Project (the quality of these games often lorded over bullet hells, sometimes unfairly) it immediately catches your eye and draws you in. The designers have paid careful attention to color composition; it's easy to get sucked into the game due to its pleasing graphics. It's easy to tell the difference between scrolling background fodder and the seamless spray of bullets from the various bosses. During boss battles, special cues alert the player on the ship's weaknesses. While this lessens the difficulty, it allows players unfamiliar with bullet hells to pick up the game with relative ease.
The scoring system is also fantastic. In order to charge up bombs to destroy all opponents within a certain radius, the player must collect coins gained from defeated enemies. While this could be a detriment, potentially stranding characters at a boss without any nukes at their disposal, even beginners can amass enough coins for an adequate arsenal. In advanced mode, however, the amount of coins required for even one bomb multiplies considerably.
The game is incredibly responsive, important in such a fast-paced environment. The cursor the player controls responds to the lightest command on the keyboard, meaning that possible deaths due to client lag are virtually nonexistent.
The translation -- however odd it may be at times -- alludes to the goal of the level's mission while attempting to maintain a coherent storyline. Regrettably, the translation is often laughable, taking cues from poorly-dubbed anime such as Speed Racer. The English is not bad -- the dialogue does make sense and it is not Engrish in any sense of the term -- but it feels awkward when paired with an otherwise visually stunning shoot 'em up.
It's also odd that Flying Red Barrel seems determined to give its protagonists motivations on the spot, instead of relying on the player's manual to explain the plot of the game. It's hard to concentrate on what the characters are yelling at each other, considering the text scrolls during boss battles. Essentially, players have to ignore the dialogue to maintain a high score. Orange_Juice, the developers, clearly attempted to do something innovative with the genre -- adding a strong story to a fast paced shooter -- but it falls flat in execution.
For ten dollars, this game is definitely worth checking out. Despite it's shortcomings, it is entertaining, addictive, and a welcome addition to the world of bullet hells.