Some of my earliest memories are of playing one of the Metal Slug games in a Chuck E. Cheese’s. Oh wait, that was actually only like 3 years ago. But that won’t stop me from being nostalgically excited for Bullet Bros!
Bullet Bros is a run-and-gun game being developed by a man named Jason Stokes. I don’t know Jason. Jason is not someone I have personally met. And yet, Jason Stokes is a man who has hit the very core of what I want in a game in a way that I’ve never seen before.
Just watching the trailer for Bullet Bros reminds me of classic games like Contra and Metal Slug, but with a modern twist. It has a big focus on vehicle physics while avoiding realism in exchange for fun. This isn’t a new concept: games such as the Trials series have always had fun with this style of physics to great effect.
I’m also a huge fan of co-op, and Bullet Bros has a lot of plans for abilities called “Bro Links” to enhance co-op to crazy levels. On top of that, the vehicles can be linked together for maximum carnage. You and a buddy can work together to spray bullets of death down upon your enemies!
I am in love with this game just from what little I’ve seen of it. These run-and-gun games aren’t really a huge part of my childhood, but my late teens have a soft spot for this style of game. The music seems like it’s going to fit the mood perfectly, the art is awesome, and… damn, I want this game to exist.
The info may seem a little thin at the moment, but it all looks like inexplicable fun. I would love to see this game get off the ground just to see what’s coming next. And most of all, I hope that one day I can get my hands on it.
I got the chance to talk to Jason about Bullet Bros, and he had plenty to say about his project.
Bullet Bros looks like a very ambitious game, promising 50-100 playable vehicles and sporting some very detailed concept art. How long have you had the idea for Bullet Bros, and how long have you been working on it?
Well, I’ve been thinking about a game that focused on vehicle linking for a long time now, but two years ago I actually started concepts for some vehicles and environments for it. The idea of making my own game seemed unattainable at the time, but I kept fleshing out the world anyway. Then my 12-year-old nephew emailed me last year and he wanted to come stay with me for a few weeks to learn about video game production. The first night I brought out all my favorite NES and SNES games to give him an impromptu history lesson. We started playing through a bunch of classics and most of the games didn’t really hold our attention for long, that is until we got into the Contra games. I realized that co-op run and gun action still held up and we were obsessed with trying to beat Contra 3 during his stay. Around that same time I started getting back into programming (it had been 10 years) and I decided to just start making a Contra style platformer for fun. I was sucked into the abyss, and realized that I had to do something more. Bullet Bros was born!
According to the video on the Kickstarter page, you’ve been juggling development of Bullet Bros with teaching night classes. How has that affected development of Bullet Bros thus far?
FuturePoly is video game art school I founded four years ago, without it I never would have had the time or resources to start developing Bullet Bros. That being said, I only teach two nights a week, so I still spend 60 plus hours on Bullet Bros. This has been a labor of love and a tribute to all my favorite games growing up.
The Bro Links seem like an… interesting way to implement co-op into combat. To what extent is co-op gameplay important to the core of Bullet Bros?
I want communication to be a big part of the co-op experience. The “Bro Link” system is a perfect way to encourage that because each link will have its own gameplay benefit. For example, the bros are surrounded by grunts on each side, bullets closing in from all directions and there are no gaps to be seen. “Ok, count of three, jump towards me and press down and the link button on my command.” If the link is a success, the bros blast a shockwave across the screen clearing all the bullets. These links will only have an input window of a few frames, so when players pull them off it will be very satisfying… and hopefully hilarious.
There’s some obvious inspiration from classic run-and-gun games like Contra and Metal Slug in Bullet Bros. Were you inspired by any other games while working on Bullet Bros, and what aspects of them are you incorporating?
Early on with Bullet Bros I wanted to throw in as many gameplay mechanics as possible to see if they could co-exist. I was surprised to find that they worked so well together, and they added a ton of variety to the game. There are some specific influences I pulled from. First, Super Mario Bros 3 because of their non-linear level design, mini-games and awesome world maps. I also love the later airship levels because they were so insanely hard, but very addicting. Blaster Master was also an old favorite of mine. I thought it was so cool that you could hop out of the tank and run around on foot to access different areas of the game. Then there’s Bionic Commando with its grappling hook mechanic, but it always bothered me that the game didn’t let you jump. Some more recent games would be Desert Combat (a Battlefield 1942 Mod which is still the most fun I’ve ever had gaming), Happy Wheels for making me laugh more than any other game, Qwop for having the craziest, most fun controls (I’ve implemented a Qwop-style walker!), and Rayman Legends for being what I believe is the most beautiful side-scroller to date.
You mention in your video that you’ve focused on the things that people find fun with in playtesting, even the physics glitches. How do you feel this will affect the experience players will have with this game as compared to other games?
I think players will really enjoy playing a classic style game without the guard rails. It annoyed me in older games when you got a grappling hook, but could only use it at designated hook spots. In Bullet Bros, if your friend airlifts your tank over to the giant helicopter boss and drops you off right into the rotors, chances are the physics will go bonkers for a sec, but I bet you’re gonna laugh. Don’t get me wrong though, I still want to have plenty of classic boss mechanics and attack patterns, but the physics will introduce some unpredictability.
Is there anything prospective backers might have overlooked while considering your game? Maybe a favorite game feature or a favorite backer reward?
Well, some might not have seen the giant walker at the end of the Kickstarter video. This is the “Qwop Walker” I mentioned earlier. You can actually control each leg independently and if you’re playing co-op, then the other player controls the back two legs for you. Needless to say, this becomes a cluster-#$@% very quickly.
Alright, one more question: Exactly how much awesome can we expect out of Bullet Bros?
All of it, every last drop.