One of the minor mysteries of the 2010 video game year is why Ubisoft showed the world screenshots of the newly-revealed Outland last week, but didn't show the game's bullets. It's a bullet-hell platformer. It looks better with bullets.
The whole selling point, at least to people who know their video games, is that Outland, a game from the makers of Super Stardust HD, is a side-scrolling platformer mixed with that great bullet-hell color-flipping gameplay of Ikaruga. In Ikaruga, you flew a spaceship up your screen, flipping it from black to white. When your spaceship was white, it could absorb white bullets but be hurt by black. When it was black, it could absorb black but be hurt by white. You wanted to shoot enemies with the opposite colour to deal extra damage.
Outland is like that, but with a man who runs and jumps from screen-left to screen-right and can switch from red to blue. He doesn't shoot. He uses melee attacks and can upgrade his moves over time. He must, during most of the live gameplay demo I saw of Outland at PAX, dodge or absorb a lot of red and blue bullets while switching his colour like he's an Ikaruga spaceship.
It looks quite fun and terrific when you see a skilled Outland player dodging blue bullets while blue, leaping onto a red platform while red and somehow making it through an impossible hail of both colours. Imagine screen-filling semi-circles of red and blue radiating from the top of the TV screen to the bottom as your guy has to run across the terrain. Imagine a slanted rainstorm of bullets crossing the screen during a battle with a screen-tall boss.
You must imagine the bullets, because the only bullets I could find in the Outland screenshots released by Ubisoft are the fee blue ones here:
That's not bullet hell. That's more like a bullet itch. Trust me, the real Outland has tons of bullets and for that we should be happy. The game comes from Housemarque and will be available as a downloadable title for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 some time in 2011.