I couldn't think of a wittier way to say "this game kicks ass," so the title says it all. Bullet Trap is a dual-stick arcade shooter with spot-on retro stylings. Unlike other dual-stick shooters which allow free-roaming, Bullet Trap locks your movement to predefined nodes. It's not a rail shooter, though, as the combat takes place within the confines of one arena at a time. The right analog stick fires bullets while the left stick controls the direction of your shield, which you can lock in place with the left trigger. If all that sounds a bit confusing, it's becaues it is--I had to back out of the game several times to re-read the instructions before I finally got the hang of it. Having the controls accessible from the pause menu would make this game much easier to dive in to.
Instead of absorbing bullets, your shield (and pretty much every solid surface in the game) reflects all incoming fire. Each bullet (there are several types) has a certain number of times it can bounce before dissipating, though the average seems to be three or four bounces. Both your shield and enemy shields are curved, which means both your own and enemy bullets will often be flying at you from just about any imagineable direction. On some levels this actually introduces a bit of a puzzle element, as your goal is to find the right node to "camp out" on, the proper shield position to lock in, and the perfect angle to fire out of your protected "bunker." I love that the single-player mode allows you to restart each level individually instead of restarting the whole thing when you die, but a "gauntlet" mode that allows the player to go as far as possible on only three lives would add a ton of replayability.
There are two multiplayer modes--both coop and deathmatch. Because the game has such a great single-player arcade feel, I had pretty high hopes for the coop mode. Ultimately, the added bullets from a trigger-happy teammate hurt more than help--making the single player actually more fun than the coop. The deathmatch isn't bad, but sliding back and forth along the nodes is a lot more difficult against a "smart" opponent. The graphics, music, and sound effects are flawless for this type of game, and the game plays bug-free. Had it been released in the early 90's as a "real" arcade game, I would've pumped a lot more than ten quarters into Bullet Trap--at only 200 points, this game is definitely worth the points!