Review: Bullet Hell Ponies (My Little Pony vs. Starcraft II) v1.6

I promised myself I'd beat this game on Pony Mode like a man before I reviewed it. Two days later, I've emerged bloody but victorious, and I'd call myself qualified. For over a year, huod umop apisdn (get it?) has been developing this classic Touhou-style game, which we posted way back in the day. The download link above goes to the games' development blog, which also contains download links for the XNA and Microsoft .NET frameworks required to play the game. If you want to see the game before committing to downloading all this stuff, the team released a trailer here.

Bullets! Ponies! Bullets! Starcraft! Friendship! Bullets! That stuff, as well as some (hopefully useful) advice, after the break!

Man, pony games this hard are unusual. Bullet Hell Ponies has four modes: Derpy, Filly, Pony, and Trollestia. If you're new to the Bullet Hell genre, get ready for a finger workout. Dodging waves of bullets may seem a little overwhelming at first, but you'll get better quickly after a little practice on Derpy Mode.

All of the mane 6 are playable characters, each with their own abilities and styles of play. You're allowed to choose which pony you start the game with, and you can switch between them in-game by grabbing power-ups that bounce about at the top of the screen. Said power-ups take the form of balls with cutie mark icons indicating which pony they will transform you into, and give you a health boost. Small packets dropped from defeated monsters refill your magic bar.

Getting screenshots of this game was a trying experience.

Of the mane six, I found Twilight to be the most useful. Her twin magic bolts are powerful, especially when focused into a single pulse of energy, and they fire rapidly. Her special launches a magic bomb that explodes into smaller bolts. Pinkie Pie was also useful - as her magic increases, the amount of cherries that she fires increases from two to four. Rainbow Dash fires a rainbow-colored beam that penetrates all enemies, and is therefore useful for clearing the back of the screen. Applejack's giant apples (what?) are also powerful stage-clearers, but their firing rate is slow. Her special attack (the only one besides Twilight's to focus on offense) launches even larger apples. Fluttershy's cloud of butterflies lacks the density of the other ponies' fire and is tricky to aim but effective if your aim is lacking. Rarity's gem shower is very hard-hitting but it's short range made it the least effective in most situations.

Each pony has a standard shooting attack, as well as a focused version used by holding the shift key. For some reason, when focusing your attacks, your pony can move only to the right. However, if you can spare an unmoving second, the focused attacks are more efficient at dispatching bosses. Additionally, each pony has a third most powerful attack that consumes your magic. You'll want to hold these attacks back for emergencies, as most of the ponies' standard attacks are more powerful when their magic bars are full. 

I took this AND THEN survived to beat the game. Stick that in your juice box.

The game takes you from Equestria into space and back again before the ominous "To be Continued" flashes on the screen. After beating down Terran, Zerg, and Protoss alike, you face down corrupted Derpy, Zecora, and Trixie bosses. The controls are snappy and responsive, and the size, music, and number of attack styles are all laudable. 

Bullet Hell Ponies is an impressive member of it's genre, with engaging patterns and too many bullets to count. It's difficulty (and the ability to change it) was just the icing on the cake, and thus it receives an impressive 9/10.

- Arctic Lux

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