E3 2021 Preview – B.ARK
Of all games I had the chance of preview during this unusual version of E3, none of them have managed to impress me like Tic Toc Games‘ B.ARK did. I will be very upfront and admit I had never heard of the game prior to this event, but a few elements caught my attention right from the get-go. Namely the art style and, well, the fact it’s a bullet hell shooter, which is one of my favorite genres out there. I had the chance to talk to some of the game’s developers and learn more about this adorable sh’mup.
B.ARK is a side-scrolling shooter in which you control one of four different adorable mammals (a Frenchie, a cat, a bear and a rabbit) piloting ships in order to save the world from an invasion of space fish. One of the game’s main inspirations, especially regarding the choice of protagonist, according to the developers themselves, was Star Fox. The game’s adorable art style, which was completely hand-drawn, was meant to conceive an impression of a playable Saturday morning cartoon. I was particularly impressed by some of the larger enemies and their smooth animations.
One thing I liked about the demo was the fact I could notice how each of the four playable characters aren’t only different in terms of design and stats, but also gameplay. In short, each of the four ships plays completely different from one another, with one of them featuring the same upgrade system from Gradius, for instance. They all feature a unique screen-clearing “ultimate attack”, which can be fused with another ally’s attack in co-op, as well as a dodge button, something you don’t see everyday in this kind of shooter, but completely understandable once I was told B.ARK is aimed at players of all ages and skill levels.
You don’t see a lot of bullet-hell shooters aimed at anyone besides people who grew up being tortured by Ikaruga‘s sanity-defying difficulty, but B.ARK is trying to break the mold, according to the folks at Tic Toc Games. The amount of enemies onscreen is a bit less egregious than your average shooter. You have access to a slightly overpowered dodge mechanic and your health bar is actually quite large at first. There will be multiple difficulty settings, however, with the hardest one giving you a much smaller health bar. I sincerely don’t think the game will be that difficult even on harder difficulties, but i doubt it will be an issue, given how it’s not exactly being made to be a challenging time, but more of a feel-good take on the bullet-hell genre.
The demo I watched featured two developers playing the game in co-op, so I just had to ask them if the Switch version, which will come out alongside the Steam build, would feature support for just one Joy-Con for each player. I’m glad to announce that this will actually be the case. According to Tic Toc Games, both versions will be pretty much identical in looks, performance, and content, but the sole fact that a game like this can be play with a friend on-the-go makes the Switch version way more desirable than the PC one.
I thoroughly enjoyed pretty much everything I saw from B.ARK during its E3 presentation. It looks downright adorable, it takes inspiration from multiple classic shooters while including brand new elements of its own, it features multiple difficulty settings to appease to both casuals and veterans, and most importantly, it will feature local co-op to up to four players. This is a game I had never heard of prior to this E3, but now I can safely say I can’t wait for it to come out later this year.
B.ARK is slated for a 2021 release on both PC and Switch.