I'll never tire of screen-hogging bosses, chunky bullets and invulnerable dashes, so I may have fallen a little in love with Nowhere Patrol at first sight. Released last night by solo developer Slugsoft, it's a run-and-gun boss rush arcade shooter in the vein of Cuphead, but with the style of an early 90s Mega Drive game, maybe with a little bit of Treasure spark. It's cheap, cheerful (in a cartoon Halloween kinda way) and hard as nails. I played some last night, and it feels like an easy pick for anyone whose eyes light up at the mention of 'bullet grazing'. A short and sweet trailer below.
While similar to Cuphead, Nowhere Patrol feels faster and more aggressive. Its cute and cuddly trio of protagonists (two at first, a third unlockable later) are extremely responsive, with a snappy double-jump and an air-dash that renders you briefly invulnerable. Your enemies are a series of giant bosses which require gradually whittling down until they give up the ghost. The first one isn't too rough, but everything from the second fight onwards requires a blend of memorisation, precision and proper use of your character's defensive and offensive smart-bomb moves.
It's less compromising but faster paced than Cuphead, too. Death comes quickly, but you'll be back at the start of the fight again in just a second. As intense as the bullet sprays look, your character isn't as vulnerable as they first appear, with a hitbox seemingly located on their nose - so long as you can protect your snoot, you're okay. Almost all bullets can be dashed through, but blue knives need to be avoided properly. It's not a complex game, but there's some subtleties, and when you're dodging hundreds of bullets per fight, you probably don't want 'complex' anyway.
While tough normally (I'm still not even halfway through the regular set, though I've not had too long to play so far), there's a clever extra challenge for expert players. Clear all the regular phases of a boss without taking a hit (a feat I've only managed once so far), and it'll evolve into a new, even more dangerous form. Dying during this bonus phase still counts as a win, but it's fun to see just how long I can last against the sudden, explosive barrage of bullets. Beating one of these turbo-charged bosses unlocks characters and weapons, too - a goal I'm shooting for later tonight.
Nowhere Patrol is out now on Steam for £3.39/€3.39/$4.24.