Kenta Cho has been a god of the freeware scene for several years now, with his ABA Games releases always being worth the download. His games are usually, but not always, bullet hell shooters with abstract vector-styled graphics, and Gunroar continues that tradition with some of the best gameplay yet.
In Gunroar, you'll take control of a small gunboat travelling upriver. Players can navigate pretty liberally, thanks to the full 360-degree movement, while holding the fire button will allow you to strafe with ease. Yes, strafe -- and it's got the firepower to boot. With an infinite supply of ammo and torpedos, not to mention literally dodge a bevy of bullets at once, it's safe to assume that the conventional art of realism walked the plank long before this game left drydock.
Although there aren't any particularly huge significant features to consider Gunroar better than most games of this type, closer inspection reveals a variety of subtle, minor touches that make the game shine. For example, the river setting is a nice change of pace from abstract space, vectors are drawn from the top of the screen showing how the enemy will fire when they appear, and another vector comes off the prow of the boat for help in aiming the powerful torpedo shot. The usual auto-scrolling of a vertical shooter is replaced by a player-controlled scrolling method, where hanging around the bottom half of the screen causes the scrolling to stop almost entirely and moving to the top speeds it up. Of course, bullet hell has never been about cautious play, so the score multiplier is directly tied into how fast the player travels the level. Additionally, the boss at the end of the level won't appear until the timer reaches zero, so moving faster will get more enemies in addition to the better score mulitplier.
Gunroar is an excellent example of the best quality freeware. It's fast, fun, looks great and plays better. Kenta Cho could easily get $5 - $10 for his games, but gives them away to anyone who wants to see them. Weighing in at a miniscule 5.5Mb, Gunroar is an easy download even for dial-up users, and highly recommended for anyone who's ever thought dodging a bullet is fun.
Gunroar can be downloaded here.
ABA Games homepage, (English version)