Bullet-Proof Software is an interesting company. On the surface, it seems like this was just a random, obscure company that made a lot of stuff in the heyday of the NES and Super Nintendo that didn't stick around past the Nintendo 64. There's a bit of truth to that, and I'll get to it later in this post.
Bullet-Proof Software was initially founded in Japan, like a lot of game companies have traditionally been. In case you haven't noticed, it's kind of a "thing."
Their initial output were, apparently, RPGs for the MSX and PC-88, two home computers that never left Japan. I don't own either, and I highly, HIGHLY doubt that I will ever do so without some act of God occurring and allowing a MSX and a copy of BPS's "Black Onyx" to materialize at my local Play N Trade. Fingers crossed.
My familiarity with Bullet-Proof Software comes from their releases on the NES, SNES, and Game Boy. They really hit it big in the 1990s.
"How is that?" You ask? One word: Tetris.
"From Russia With Fun" indeed, my friends.
Tetris is a pretty obscure game that- Okay. I'm not even going to try to be witty and ironic with Tetris. Especially since I mentioned Tetris' crazy legal background in my Spectrum Holobyte retrospective. Retrospectrumve... Holobyte...
My previous post. That one.
Anyway, Tetris was a landmark of a game not only due to the game being instrumental in the rise of the puzzle game genre, but also due to the fact that it was a game made in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The sheer fact that it made it out of the country is a miracle. Sure, the Cold War had ended a couple of years after Tetris got out, but who knows what sort of impact the game would have had if it didn't.
As hard as it is to believe today, this game was unique in 1989. I'd like to guess that getting people to try Tetris back in 1989 was akin to convincing someone to try a glass of Campari.
There we go. Tetris is a bittersweet herbal liqueur. Nintendo's first-party publishing, as well as Bullet-Proof Software's development of the Game Boy and NES ports of the game, was the crisp, refreshing soda that made Tetris the amazing experience it was.
Nowadays, Tetris is everywhere. Everyone's heard of it. Go and play this one, if only because finding the Spectrum Holobyte version on the PC is probably not going to happen any time soon. This one's probably better, anyway.
I always seem to get hungry when I play this game. Just taking a stab in the dark, here, but I think that it's because of all of the delicious goddamn cookies in this game. Seriously. So many cookies. Cookies for days.
I wonder if this game was called "Yoshi's Biscuit" in PAL territories?
Ooh, "Yoshi's Biscuit", that's a good name for a rock band. I'm saving that one.
Yoshi's Cookie is a puzzle game where you have to flip around rows and columns of cookies in order to get a continuous pattern of the same cookie going from left to right or up to down. There are a ton of different cookies to match up, and on higher levels it's hard to get things perfect because just ONE SINGLE COOKIE that isn't like the rest on the grid means that your perfectly-planned combo isn't going to work. It's a weird game to explain. Just know that it's one of those puzzle games that is very easy to learn, but it has the incredible potential for painful difficulty at the higher levels of play.
The game itself is decked out in graphics inspired by Super Mario World, as that was the most recent "regular" Mario game out at the time. Hell, some of the level backgrounds are taken straight from SMW. Oddly enough, this game didn't initially have anything to do with Mario or Yoshi. It was originally a simple prototype called "Hermetica" that was neat enough for Nintendo to allow Bullet-Proof Software to use Mario-related imagery in the game. Also, the SNES version of Yoshi's Cookie happens to be the "home" port of the game, which a lot of people seem to have trouble understanding, despite it being a Spring 1993 release. The NES version is still quite a fun version, though it lacks a lot of the extra modes that the SNES one has.
Nintendo never marketed Yoshi's Cookie baked goods. That, my friends, is a goddamn travesty. There was cashmoney to be made there.
Oh, hey. Look at that. One of four FPS games on the SNES.
(The first-person segments in Lawnmower Man don't count)
Faceball 2000 is a neat little game. As stated earlier, Faceball is a first-person shooter on the SNES. That sounds weird, I know. Even weirder is the fact that Faceball is really just an updated release of an Atari ST game, MIDI-Maze. MIDI Maze is a networked FPS. On the Atari ST.
I know, right? Technolomogy, you so crazy!
Instead of doing the traditional FPS things, like killing Nazis and shooting hellspawn with a shotgun that is inversely proportional to the size of the protagonist's junk, you control a floating, sentient smiley-face. Your objective? Shoot the other floating, smiling geometric objects before they shoot you first. They're kind of a bunch of jerks.
Gameplay takes place in a boxed maze area, and each level is a little bit different than the last. The SNES version isn't exactly the best thing ever, though. The draw distance is pitiful even for SNES standards, and you're not exactly going to be getting smooth framerates when tons of things are happening at once. If only this were a Super-FX game, or if BPS was around to do a N64 version...
True to the spirit of the original MIDI Maze, Faceball 2000 for the Game Boy has four-player multiplayer capability. All you need is a 4-player Multitap, three more Game Boy Link Cables (sold separately, of course.) and three other friends who were willing to cough up $40 for copies of Faceball 2000 for the Game Boy. I've always wanted to see if this was any fun to do, but I haven't been willing or able to get people to care enough to try it out.
So. What happened to Bullet-Proof Software?
They were effectively gone by 1996. At least, their name was. The company changed their name in '96, to Blue Planet Software. I'm unsure as to why this occurred, but I'd really like to find out if it was due to the fact that their games weren't actually bullet-proof. Some dumbass probably bought up a ton of unsold copies of Michael Andretti's Indy Car Challenge, made a suit of body armor out of them, and tried to be a hero during a bank robbery.
That probably didn't happen, but it would be a pretty interesting story to tell people if it did.
Hey, at least they didn't have to get rid of any company signage that had just the company's initials on it.