After suffering the loss of his daughter in an air crash a grieving father decides to resurrect her back to life by summoning up the devil. All goes wrong however and instead of being reunited with his daughter he dooms the Earth with demons and monsters. Years pass and only few humans are left and the human army is dwindling.
Then a strange woman, named Alicia, appears almost from nowhere and is able to defeat the demons with her magical powers. Her weapon known as the Gunrod is broom-like in appearance and is able to operate as a gun as well as the vessel of her powers. She joins forces with the human army to rid the world of the evil demons.
Alicia has a variety of spells at her disposal that can be activated through her Spellwheel. Each spell can be upgraded to make it more powerful. My favourite is the Raven's Panic spell as it only effects the demons and not the humans.
There are five extra costumes currently available from Xbox Live.
Within the game these costumes aren't mentioned by name, they are referred to as Special Costume 1, Special Costume 2, etc. The Schoolgirl costume is considered quite controversial and there have been complaints to Atari about it. It isn't any more revealing than any other costume, it's simply the fact that it's referred to as a schoolgirl costume that has caused the fuss. I've also noticed that a lot of the websites that complain about this also have a lot of screenshots with her wearing the said costume. The torn clothing of the Mummy costume and the extremely tight Pixie costume has caused no controversy at all. Alicia's jacket on the Mummy costume has the game creator's logo displayed on the back. There were rumours of a Christmas costume with Alica dressed as one of Santa's elves, this was never released and I think may have just been a mock-up picture.
XBOX LIVE FEATURES
As well as the costumes there are other Xbox Live features. You can compare your score with the rest of the world. As well as displaying the top scores it will also display your score in relation to theirs and your position, at the moment I am 150 thousandth worldwide even though I've completed the game fully in every game mode. There are also extra missions to download but annoyingly these require an extra payment as well as the Xbox Live Gold account. The extra missions are the same stages as in the main game but with different tasks to achieve. One mission requires that you complete the entire stage without getting shot even once giving the game a stealth feel, while another mission requires you to kill every single demon within a short space of time. Some of the extra missions have every spell unlocked at the beginning which allows you to destroy even the easiest of monsters with the full blast of a meteor shower if you so wish. There is also a Bullet Witch theme for the Xbox 360 which changes your Xbox 360 "wallpaper", this also requires extra payment. However, this theme was designed for the original Xbox 360 dashboard and looks quite messy since Microsoft changed the layout of the Xbox 360's opening screen. There is no online multiplayer mode which is a disappointment as it would have been great.
An important fact to note is that in order to play the extra missions or select a special costume you have to connect to Xbox Live even if you've already downloaded them. This means when Microsoft eventually abandon Xbox Live for the 360 the special features of this game will no longer work.
The graphics are spectacular eye-candy and detailed even without a high-def display, although it does have a slightly annoying widescreen effect on standard display PAL televisions. Alicia is detailed with reflections in her eyes, tummy movement while breathing, and hair movement from the breeze. She is even detailed with a mole under her left eye, two moles on her leg, and one on her tummy, even the blue tint of the veins under her bare skin are visible. Depending on which costume she is wearing there are lots more details about her that can be seen, the snake tattoo is my favourite. On many other sites her tattoo has been described as a glitch in the story but I don't think it's important. It's not just Alicia herself that is detailed, the human army, civilians and demons are all equally detailed as well as the amazing sunset.
A highly detailed picture of Alicia was released onto the internet showing how detailed she actually is. Click onto the picture below to view it.
Throughout the game the music is fantastic, full of atmosphere and matching the game action. There is sad music, action music and calm music depending on what is going on within the game. Click here for a sample called The Vanishing Sky by Masashi Yano featuring Asako Yoshihiro. The MySpace link to their band is here featuring more music samples.
The soundtrack is available containing 20 tracks as well as a bonus hidden track.
There's a lot of mixed opinion about this game. A lot of the gaming press, mainly magazines, have given it an extremely low rating and yet the fans have given it a high rating on gaming websites. I can't fathom why this would occur. Bullet Witch is a completely knew genre of game, it's not a sequel or another shoot-em-up clone, but something completely unique and not seen before.
The environments are huge and it's good to see objects in the far distance that you eventually arrive at after a long long walk doing battles with demons along the way. The city in the distance across the river looks beautiful. However a lot of the paths are blocked making the game linear, while giving the appearance that it's not, and sometimes it's good to run around a bit exploring but you will soon find a conveniently placed pile of rubble or a crashed car in the way. This becomes more apparent when playing the game a second time around.
When a demon or monster dies it stays dead, it won't respawn, and it's a good feeling to clear an entire town leaving only humans standing. However the humans aren't immune from your own mistakes and you can often kill them by mistake if they get in your way. If you save one of them directly from a demon they will often reward you with an item of food which will increase your energy level.
There is a haunting mood to the game especially when it gets dark and there's a giant moon in the sky giving an eerie glow. This makes the game feel more creepy, drawing you into the story. The civilians wandering the streets without anywhere to go and losing all hope gives the player a sense of responsibility and you actually feel upset if one of them dies, especially if it was your fault.
The game is Japanese but, apart from the giant monsters, it doesn't have a Japanese feel to it. This may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view. I personally would have preferred the option to select which language to play it in at the start but there isn't one.
From the outset you are plunged into the story with a flashback sequence showing humans protesting then forming an army and fighting a war against the demons. Statistics of the human population are displayed on the screen showing how the population is dwindling and the human race becoming extinct. The storyline is gripping edging you further into the game to see what happens next.
There are great characters, spectacular graphics, and most importantly the game is very very addictive. Each time the game is played through your score is increased which in turn allows you to purchase power-ups for your spells. With every spell and power-up unlocked it plays like an almost completely new game. There are five difficulty levels to play through, Easy, Normal, Hard, Chaos and Hell mode. Chaos and Hell mode can only be played after completing the other game modes.
It is true that the special costumes are a little tacky, the main game a bit too short and the Xbox Live features require extra payment, but that aside I think it's one of the all time best games I have ever played! It has a lot of replay value too especially due to the option of being able to select your favourite levels.
The game has been released all over the world in various guises and different packaging. On each box it mentions that the game is an Xbox 360 exclusive but interestingly it doesn't mention it on the UK version, it's probably just a mistake. Also notice that the age ratings on the boxes are different for each country with the UK having the highest rating, also note that the US packaging has an explosion in the background rather than the moon focusing upon the action rather than the witchyness.
Bullet Which was programmed in Japan by AQ Interactive and Cavia. The US and European versions were published by Atari and the voices redubbed from Japanese to English. When the game was released Atari had a promotion where you could email Alica and ask her about the game. This doesn't work anymore and if you email her you will get no reply.
Here are some brilliant trailers showing Bullet Witch in action; there is the main trailer, two Japanese trailers, an outfits trailer showing Alicia in all her costumes and an American commercial.
There is also a comic of Bullet Witch available. So far there only seems to be an issue 0 which is basically an introduction to the rest of the comics that aren't available just yet.
PRIMA GAME GUIDE
There is a game guide available from Prima Games that gives useful hints and tips on the best way to complete the game. There are some good tips for destroying some of the more tricky monsters. The guide also delves into the story and characters so if you have already completed the game it is stil useful if you want to read more about the story and play the game a second time around. There is also a preview of the Bullet Witch comic as part of the guide. Click here to download a sample of the guide. (Adobe PDF file format).
Here is a collection of wallpapers for your desktop. (1024x768 resolution).
PLAYBOY'S WOMEN OF VIDEOGAMES
There was some controversy when Atari allowed Playboy magazine to feature Alica in their Women of Video Games picture in the November 2007 issue. She posed topless along with other female video game characters, she was clearly drawn by a different artist and was only recognisable due to the fact she was holding her Gunrod.
With this being a fairly dated game now many of the websites have gone down including the official Japanese site which was full of content. Listed below are a couple that you may find useful.
Contains a detailed walkthrough of Bullet Witch.
A review of the PC version.
This website was created by Raymond Johnson. www.raysnet.com.