Back in July 2019, we reviewed the first Bouncy Bullets and identified a big, flashing weak spot: it felt terrible to control. It was a game that wanted you to parkour around a soft-play with a gun in your hands, but would plunge you off platforms or overshoot your jumps. It was a constant pain to play.
Hello then Bouncy Bullets 2, which – would you believe it – has solved the problem. It’s smooth as butter, as you glide from platform to platform, pulling off every move as planned. It may not quite be Mirror’s Edge, but it manages to feel tight and responsive. It feels good to say that a sequel has addressed the glaring problem at the centre of it.
For anyone who hasn’t played Bouncy Bullets, this is a kind of FPS and platforming hybrid, like the bouncier bits of Unreal Tournament or Quake, but applied to short, speedrunning levels. It reminds us a fair amount of the underrated classic The Club on Xbox 360, as every replay has the same layout and enemy reactions, but instead of killing gangsters you’re shooting the Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubemen from outside of American car lots.
There are sixty levels here, split up, twenty each, into Easy, Medium and Hard difficulties. You start on one end of a reasonably short but colourful arena. Once you make your fist move, the time starts ticking. This is where you hit your first obstacles. There are enemies dotted around, and they come in a few different colours. Pink tubemen need to be hit with pink bullets, and yellow tubemen need to be hit with yellow bullets. So there’s simple colour matching here, and that’s pulled off with the shoulder buttons. You’re regularly turning corners to be confronted with a specific colour, so you have to be on your game to react.
Some of the tubemen are coloured black, which means they can only be killed with a ricochet bullet. Hot tip: don’t try to get all Peggle with a well-timed wall-bounce. Hit the floor immediately below them and they’ll go down easy. There are grey tubemen, who act like civilians in shooting galleries: hit one of them and the run is over. But don’t worry, they don’t fire back. Finally, these tubemen can have shields, jump or switch colour on rotation.
Then there’s a gallery of obstacles, some more obstructive, others more Saw-like in their ability to deal death. Walls of blocks have to be shot with the right colour, spring-pads fire you into the stratosphere, and lasers and flamethrowers quickly end the run.
So, you’re dodging as much as shooting, and jumping a fair amount too. You’ll often be acting like a Halo griefer, as you strafe and jump to avoid the bullets from tubemen, before lobbing some bullets back. It’s worth noting that Bouncy Bullets is named that way for a reason: your rounds bounce around infinitely, and surprisingly slowly, so a strong tactic is often to fire before you’ve even turned round a corner.
Get to a spinning portal and the round is finished, and your score is tallied based on a few factors. It’s here that a major gripe lands. Bouncy Bullets 2, being a budget Ratalaika title, has no multiplayer or leaderboard infrastructure at all. Which is crazy for a game of this type. There’s not even personal leaderboards, which is gobsmacking: you’re going to have to scribble down your best scores on a napkin to beat them, which – of course – nobody is going to be mad enough to do.
The difficulty increases the challenge, but it never gets gut-bustingly difficult. And there’s a fair amount of additional content tucked into twenty additional ‘Speedrunning’ levels, which – confusingly – aren’t altogether different from the traditional levels, outside of an orientation towards running and jumping, rather than shooting.
There is no doubting that Bouncy Bullets 2 is a hop, skip and jump further progressed than Bouncy Bullets. The thick cel-shading of the first game has been replaced by a more colourful, playful bouncy-castle of a game. It looks great. And the controls are far, far superior. For the £4.99 that Bouncy Bullets 2 asks of you, it’s a high-value dopamine hit that won’t last overly long – probably a couple of hours – but you won’t regret the outlay.
But just as our first review requested that a sequel sorted the controls, we’ve got a few requests for Bouncy Bullets 3. First of all, sort the leaderboards and online situation. We should be able to pass the pad, compete with friends’ times, and – at the very least – beat our own times. While you’re there, add ghosts of our previous best runs, so we can race ourselves in real-time.
In the levels themselves, chip off the irritating stuff. Large walls of pink and yellow blocks are not made for speedruns. We don’t want to stand still, playing Puzzle Bobble so we can progress. And add a few weapons to the arsenal. Bullets are fine, but they’re slow and fail to mix-up the strategy. Let’s see what levels are like with grenade launchers and rocket jumps. We’d love to have a bit more strategy than just jump, run or pew-pew.
That’s our shopping list of requests sorted for Bouncy Bullets 3, but we’re not unappreciative of the improvements in Bouncy Bullets 2. This isn’t a quickfire, lazy sequel: it’s taken the control issues of the first and shot them in the back of the head with rubber rounds.
Bouncy Bullets 2 lacks variety, multiplayer and longevity, but it’s a glow-up from the original Bouncy Bullets. Spend a couple of hours in this adult playground, and your adrenaline will be firing.
You can buy Bouncy Bullets 2 for £4.99 from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S