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Bullet Philharmonic Orchestra

(7 votes) *Average rating will show after 20 votes
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bulletorchestra-g.gifDerekWHere's something that guarantees at least three minutes (give or take, depending on your taste in music) of fun: Bullet Philharmonic Orchestra. It's an ultra-simple, free, downloadable (PC only), barebones shoot-'em-up-inspired game with a simple concept: dodge the bullets. The game itself was designed with two things in mind: mindless entertainment, and improving one's dodging skill in those crazy bullet-spraying shmups (both of which it achieves).

After installation, put a couple of your favorite music files into the 'music' folder where you installed the game, then start it up. The game will play random files from that folder and, in tune with the music, will generate semi-random patterns of bullet spray from the top of the screen. You, the red dot at the bottom of the screen, must avoid getting hit by this onslaught as long as possible. In a way it's kind of like Rez, except you get to choose the music, and it also has been stripped away of any features that one might call beautiful.

Once the game is started, press [Z] to begin and use the arrow keys to control your dot. Anytime a bullet strays within the green ring surrounding your dot, white sparks will fly out, meaning you were 'buzzed'. When a bullet hits that red dot, sparks fly out. In other words, you would be dead in a real shooter. That's all there is to it. Get hit less, earn more points. For more challenging gameplay, use songs with high tempos, or anything one might listen to before playing a sports game.

Analysis: At just over one megabyte, this is a downloadable that even our dial-up friends can enjoy (though unfortunately our Mac and Linux friends will have to sit out for this one). My only real complaint is that every once in a while, the game won't recognize an MP3 file you give it, and while this is rare, it's very annoying. The game should work fine with any WAV or MIDI file, however. Other than that, the only thing I'd like to see is the ability to specify a music folder to get files from, rather than have to move the music to a particular folder; a minor qualm with an otherwise fantastic distraction. Give it a try.

Download the free full version

Mac OS XMac OS X:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.


Actually the source code and a makefile are included in the zip file. So linux users should have no problem.


I'm having problems with the game. I've downloaded and extracted it and it opens fine. However, when I actually start playing the game, I die the second it starts.


Odd. Out of about 10 mp3s I tried with it, only one worked. For the rest, the level ended immediately. Is there any way to choose which song you want, or is it random?


FYI, AL mode surrounds you with a circle of shooters and BPO mode puts the circle of shooters near the top of the screen. It's a neat first draft of a game... mp3 support needs work. (I get stuttery sound on songs with heavy base)


I am fairly sure that it's having a problem with VBR mp3s. I need to see if I have any CBR mp3s to back up this theory, but it's a good guess.


- cant read any of the instructions.
- first start, ridiculous error message box, supposed the download was broken. Without the review wouldn't have been able to run the game at all.
- counter intuitive press of 'y' or 'z' is required. Again I thought the game was broken, until hitting ALL keys.
- I at least am not smart enough to see any connection between the music and the behaviour of the dots.


I can't get it to run! I have Windows.. it says the default program to run it on is WinZip, but when I try, it tells me it can'tm run the program because I don't have SDL, which is Linux-based, and I have Windows. So how do I get this game to work? Help!


All I got to work were two songs from the the Broken Saints soundtrack, and also Michael Jackson's "Thriller."


Hmm...is anyone else having trouble playing MIDI's? This game is really fun when I can get a song that works. hrm.


CBR mp3s didn't work for me either, which is a shame, for years I've been clamoring for a Vib-Ribbon-esque shooter for years.


Go here, and download the MP3 to OGG converter. It'll fix everyones problems (too bad its a trial though!) and it will let you play the greatness known as BPO.


For any one having trouble with mp3 just convert them it a wave file and they work fine.


Alright, with OGG, things work perfectly, and I've found a handful of songs that are absolutely sublime with it (ex: Nanook of the North - St. George and The Dragon.)

My tastes are pretty obscure, but if anyone wants to get to trade songs for this, feel free to hit me up on AIM: Shadax of Yorke. I have about 400 cds, and while I'm not going to try all of them, I'm trying to find the best songs for the game.


Fuzzygrid, if you can't see the connection between music and dots, then the songs you're using probably don't have discrete enough parts. Go here: http://www.paniq.org/albums/mentalmilestones and get the last track (Last Night WTF Mix). It's really obvious how the track is connected to the bullets.


Out of six I've tried so far, one has worked... The Sound of Silence, I believe.


Also, I agree that often the music is totally desynched with the bullets. Deerhoof's "Lemon and little lemon" has, near the start, some quite distinct drums that are totally ignored - then a rush of bullets comes at you with the quiet, legato vocals. I don't see what the response is to...


I suggest Ogg files. Try the ones you got from all those frets on fire songs. I played freebird on it. Crazy. Simply crazy.


I tried using one of the Cave Story remixes, and after converting it to .ogg it worked, but I have similar "what the heck are the bullets responding to?" issues, especially since near the end of one of these the music had nearly completely faded out and all of sudden lots of bullets started firing out at me. It seems like either the game doesn't recognize certain musical types or recognizes things that don't actually have anything to do with the music as part of the music (or perhaps both).


hehehe... got a really hard music... sped it up... went mad... i like it...


I think it would be nice if you could manually synch this as well, a programme where you could play the music and tap one key for the audible beat and hold a key for a sustained note, repeated for whatever channels - for instance, if you had a song with vocals, drums and bass, you'd run through for the drums probably just tapping the space bar, then the vocals would have a more complex rhythm and you'd need sustained notes... something like that, because the system it uses just isn't good enough for many songs.


Similar problems with compatibility, but converting to wav is easy.

Also, the shooting clearly was repsonding to the bullets for me. My guess, on observing it a little, is that it tries to distinguish background from lead, and only react to lead. This would explain why there's little reaction to drums, since they're most often used in background beat, so for a part of a song with solo or prominent drums, it may seem a litte off. That's just my guess though.

Actual gameplay is great, though.


Hey there.

According to the instructions, you can put a shortcut file (right-click in folder, "new", "shortcut") rather than copying bulky files over and wasting space.

Also a decent converter:
It's free, but don't get the master's version.
Just open the MP3 file you want to convert, then do "save as", choose your format, and then your bitrate.

Extremely useful.



There's another game on this site much like this one... but I don't remember what it's called. You use your mouse to control and when bullets enter the circle around you, you fire bullets back at the red enemy circle. Anyone know which game I'm talking about?


The other one is Fuzetsu.

Dark Hunter April 30, 2008 7:27 PM

For those of you saying that the game ends immediately or that your music doesn't seem to work: it's the ID3 tags. BPO can't read them, so it assumes that it can't read the entire file.

The ID3 tags are where information such as artist, album, genre, etc are stored. You'll have to get rid of those first.


OH MY GOD! Shady Lady by Ani Lorak is really cool on this, in the last few seconds where she holds the note on the word "now" the game goes crazy and bullets are flying everywhere! Really fun game! :)


Please! Tell me if this is still developing or just the final version. I mean, I see so much potential for this game it's unbelievable. If anyone knows the author's page please put it in a comment. I'd love to know if this is still in development. I love this game. The music/bullets need some polishing, but it's a great idea and quite a good concept and best of it it's free. But if anyone knows a game like this please let me know too, thanks.



great sim, best seen as a tech demo of what could be done if enough work was put into it, works fine with wavs, no luck with mp3s at all here

oh and those who say the bullets don't match the music, you try writing something that detects the beat of music, i've done it and it's bloody hard to get it done well enough for it to be recogniseable

also there's obviously a function that tells it not to shoot every beat, it's hell enough without doing that

:D now to give it some speedcore and see what happens


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