[REVIEW] Bite the Bullet – Nintendo Switch

Written by Ryan Alexander Parente
  • Developer: Mega Cat Studios
  • Publisher: Graffiti Games
  • Release Date: 08/13/20
  • Price: £13.49 / $14.99
  • Review code provided by Graffiti Games

INTRODUCING BITE THE BULLET REVIEW

Well, Mega Cat Studios did it: With Bite the Bullet, they created the world’s first “Run & Gun & Eat.” To call them an ambitious developer would be an understatement, beginning life making homebrew games for the NES and Super Nintendo. Recently, they’ve made their way to modern hardware, and Bite the Bullet is their second original title on current platforms. Mega Cat’s resume is a delightful treasury of nostalgia, with every inch of it injected into Bite the Bullet’s DNA. As you play, you discover the ability to devour enemies’ entrails like a demonic Kirby in this wild, Blade Runner-esque world. But is the buffet here large enough to satisfy everyone’s appetite? Let’s find out…but please! Wash your hands before you eat!

IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT

Earth became underpopulated after a food shortage caused by pollution. Humans began to inject themselves with Bionomes so they could consume any substance, be it organic or not in order to survive. This, of course, had dire side effects: their bodies began to mutate in a process dubbed “ghoulification”. The remaining humans abandoned their home planet for the stars, leaving Earth inhabited strictly by ghouls.

DarwinCorp, an up-and-rising biological research corporation, was attracted to this untamed Earth. In order to gain a competitive advantage against their rivals, DarwinCorp hires mercenaries Chewy and Chewella to fight their way through the ruins. Along the way, they must collect the material of eight different organisms. For a couple of mercenaries with an insatiable appetite, it’s not “last man standing” – it’s an all you can eat affair.

RIP, TEAR AND DEVOUR

Scarfing down on ghouls isn’t just for fun and show, you know. The more you feast, the more shiny new toys you gain! Everything from rocket launchers to flamethrowers are here, all with randomized stats. But that’s not at all, as every ghoul you eat will also drop calories, fat and protein. Don’t let your character burn them off, because you’ll want eat certain enemies that allow you to craft weapon mods out of them.

Getting full? Well, don’t worry, you can also gain new weapons by discovering secret teleport rooms in the overworld. Some will drop you right in a gold mine of upgrades, while others might offer you a challenge such as racing through a herd of enemies in a hamster mech. These levels are huge, so there’s a lot to discover. If you laid a map of them on your kitchen floor, it’d reach one end all the way to the other!

Bite the Bullet‘s controls have a very lightweight quality, which some may either enjoy, but others will see as a hindrance. It lacks the gravity and refinement of classics such as Super Metroid and Contra, feeling just a tad bit unpolished. Notably, the lack of knockback makes it tough to determine when you’re getting hit. This makes the gameplay feel just short of what I’d call delicious. Maybe it’s time to try a new diet…

A TRIP TO VEGAN ACADEMY

You’ll be met with a skill tree at the end of every level. You can spend the SP you gain in one of four diets to suit your playstyle. Each diet is wildly unique with their own perks and abilities as expected. For example, “Gorivore” will only allow you to eat meat. As a trade off, you’ll be granted with offensive abilities such as being able to barf on your enemies (The 90’s inspiration truly shines!). I may have taken the vanilla route having an unrestricted diet by selecting the “I see, I eat” class. Either way you’ll want to decide your diet quickly because this does affect the game’s difficulty. No doubt the variety here is tasty, but let’s remember that it all comes down to presentation!

NOTHING TO DROOL OVER

You’d be right If you said Bite the Bullet looks like yet another retro-inspired indie game. It doesn’t quite do anything special to stand out among the genre despite being adequately designed. When you defeat or devour an enemy the animations don’t pack the punch they should. You’ll watch Chewy and Chewella swiftly dig into a ghoul like a fluffy piece of cake (perhaps appropriate to the Kirby inspiration?).

There’s a handful of neat enemy designs to admire, on the other hand. I yearn to own a plushie of the sentient toaster enemy! The game absolutely becomes more visually engaging once you encounter the unique enemies instead of the ghouls. Bosses, however, don’t amount to much more than run-of-the-mill cyborgs. If only the entire journey was filled with the same inspiration and energy as my favourite little toaster! 

While the art direction may be average at worst, it’s the audio design where the game really falters. Although I can’t confirm, this is likely an issue exclusive to the Nintendo Switch. The soundtrack is audibly compressed, lacking any dynamic mixing resulting in a very flat sound. Heavy metal MIDI tracks are often the backbone in experiences like these, leaving much to be desired! I noticed the sound effects would either mute or happen late whenever a lot of action was occurring on screen. In this regard, Bite the Bullet really does feel like DOOM…or at least, the Nintendo Switch port of DOOM 2016.

WAITER, THERE’S A FLY IN MY SOUP

The technical performance is where things get rotten. Bite the Bullet runs like dial-up internet on the Nintendo Switch – but I suspect this isn’t an issue in other versions. The game chugs along trying to keep a steady frame rate, but it’s so inconsistent that it ends up fighting against you. When it stuttered loading into the opening level, I could feel a cold shiver travel down my spine. I wanted to believe that Bite the Bullet wouldn’t be a technical mess. In my opinion, poor performance always kills fast-paced action games like these, and that’s unfortunately the case here.

Control over my character’s landing with the dash maneuver was interrupted with every stutter, resulting in death. I wondered if performance would be improved in docked mode like most games, but I was only met with the same unacceptable stuttering and lag. The visibility of text is the only advantage of docked mode here. Even the sharpest-eyed individuals would have issues reading it in handheld mode! Death Stranding once had the smallest text I had ever seen, but Bite the Bullet takes that crown of shame now.

It may infuriate some that Bite the Bullet uses “B” as confirm and “A” as cancel. But none of the previous issues even compare to the worst bug I came across – Chewella suddenly being unable to eat! Eventually, she began freezing in place whenever I wanted her to eat, running endlessly. The only solution to get out of this loop was to spam ZL, and if things couldn’t get any worse she became stuck facing one direction! A game all about eating was now spoiling my appetite…unsure of the issue, I had to start the game over. These are heavy marks I have to deduct.

CHEAPING OUT ON THE TIP

Bite the Bullet offers a competent Contra callback with elements of a Metroidvania RPG, but as it currently performs on Nintendo Switch, I cannot recommend it. What would be a mindless, yet enjoyable game is turned ugly as ghoul by its numerous technical issues. I say go for it if you perhaps come across one of the 50 arcade cabinets produced for the game and have a quarter to spare. Otherwise, satisfy your appetite elsewhere and don’t spend a penny on this version.

PROS

  • Levels are dense with content and secrets
  • Skill tree is deep and meaningful
  • Core gameplay is mindless fun

CONS

  • Questionable controls
  • Text is far too small to read
  • Unbearable performance issues
  • Poor audio design

Verdict
Bite the Bullet would be a good game if not for all it’s technical problems, but as it stands, this is a bullet you’ll want to dodge. 

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