Point Blank, the downloadable arcade classic from Bandai Namco first hit arcades back in 1994. Then it has since made its way to the PlayStation and Nintendo DS in much the same format as what was presented to Japanese gamers back then. A single-player or co-op first-person shooter, Point Blank is also known as Gun Bullet and was a light-gun enabled arcade experience that would later inspire Namco’s long-running Time Crisis series. In the Nintendo DS portable game players use the stylus instead of a light gun to simulate the shooting action on the screen.
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The Game Review
Unlike the Time Crisis series or even the Virtua Cop games from rival Sega, Point Blank does not feature real-world counterparts and is billed as a family-friendly title because of this. Targets range from cardboard cutouts to cartoonish enemies with a distinct bend towards the fantastical and the innocent. There are a range of difficulty modes in the game as well as challenges in each stage that range from protecting a character from projectiles to only hitting things of a certain color.
This leads to six main stage variants in the game with each being premised on the type of gameplay offered in each. Accuracy, Intelligence, Memory, Simulation, Visual Acuity, and Speed are the main gameplay styles on offer in Point Blank. Accuracy, as the name implies, is predicated on how accurately you hit certain targets in the in-game world while intelligence is a counting up type activity. Memory is a card matching game and simulation is a Virtua Cop type cops-and-robbers game where the player needs to avoid shooting cardboard cutout civilians.
Visual acuity measures a player’s ability to only shoot a certain type of target while speed requires that players shoot targets of different colors.
The PlayStation and DS versions of the game do include a more narrative focused gameplay mode but largely the style remains unchanged between the ports. An arcade classic from beginning to the end, Point Blank could be termed a series of minigames more than anything else.
Though Namco would likely bristle at this description it is very apt for the substance of the game and, indeed, we see many of these mechanics now in smartphone games. While it is not the deepest experience on offer for its respective systems, Point Blank is nonetheless interesting as a non-violent light gun game.
These are rare and the types of games that incorporate varied minigames on the same level as Point Blank are rarer still.
Now called a cult favorite by many publications, Point Blank’s iconic gameplay has nonetheless found analogs in numerous other formats from smartphone games to targeting and acuity games released on mainline systems today.
Existing largely as a time capsule of Namco’s experiments with what a light gun could do, players should experience the publisher’s Time Crisis series to get a true taste of the company’s prowess when it comes to incorporating varied elements into a light gun title.
Those games not only changed the action up on a regular basis but also incorporated a complex story into the narrative in the process.