Dream Trigger 3D is a unique entry in the “bullet-hell” shooter genre, brought to us by D3 Publisher for the Nintendo 3DS. While each of its brilliant and colorful levels will rain bullets down onto players near-constantly, this is the only aspect that Dream Trigger shares with other bullet-hell shooters, as the game deviates greatly from the side-scrolling or top-down style of most games in the genre by introducing several novel gameplay elements.
The greatest gameplay deviation comes from how players actually engage their targets. Enemies (which range from flowers and butterflies to psychedelic geometric shapes or all kinds) fly through the screen in arcade-esque formations, but players cannot immediately attack them. Instead, players must “reveal” the enemies with sonar, which is done by dragging the stylus over the touch screen. By taking advantage of the formations enemies travel in, players can reveal multiple enemies at once, and make short work of them afterwards. Note that the enemies are not truly “hidden” (that would be stupidly hardcore) – they are always visible on the lower screen, which allows players to keep track of where enemies are and which new ones have slipped onscreen.
As if this style of play didn’t already veer from the genre norm, Dream Trigger has an interesting style of shooting as well. Your vessel doesn’t actually shoot anything, and instead serves as both your life force and your targeting reticle. In other words, you bump into enemies to damage them, and will take damage if you’re hit by anything. “Shooting” makes your vessel the projectile, which makes you invincible and allows you to destroy enemies by bumping into them. The essence of Dream Trigger is that you are shooting into the screen (a point which escaped me until near the end of my time with the game). Two beams shoot into the screen from either side when players shoot, and the point where the beams converge (your vessel) is where your shots go. Remember the “Speed Square” mini-game from Final Fantasy VII? In many respects, the shooting mechanics in Dream Trigger play much like they do in said mini-game.
I admit that this approach to shooting completely threw me for a loop: I had no idea how to actually attack enemies for most of my demo session. Once I did pick up the nuances of gameplay, I was shot-down three more times due to sheer lack of skill. It was only at the end of my session that my butterfly finally managed to take down the black flower boss.
In truth, the challenge the gameplay presents makes it all the more appealing. The screenshots will no doubt attest to the game’s fantastic look: it is bright and colorful, and at times looks like an insane moving work of art (think Geometry Wars for the Xbox Live Arcade). As you can imagine, 3D effect compliments the visuals extremely well. A challenging and unique shooter, with an incredible an visual style? Let’s just say my interest is piqued. Look for Dream Trigger 3D later this month.
- Genre: Rail Shooter
- Developer: D3
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Release: May 10th, 2011 (05/10/11)
NY Console Games Examiner articles ©2011 by Gabriel Zamora; reposts permitted with link back to original article. All other rights reserved.