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As is the norm with rail shooters, the action in Elemental Gearbolt takes place from a first-person perspective, and the pace of the game and rate of enemy occurrence is completely preset. The player is only required to aim and shoot with the light gun. Most light gun games require the player to reload as ammunition is expended, but Elemental Gearbolt does not, since both the player characters and their weapons are magical. Instead, the game limits the speed at which the player can fire, increasing the need for accuracy. The player can switch freely between three types of attacks - Blaze Phoenix, a basic, high powered shot; Thunder Tiger, a spread shot; and Water Snake, a rapid shot. At the conclusion of each stage the player has the opportunity to "Trade Off", in which the player selects certain percentages of the score for the stage to allocate towards bonus points or experience. As in an RPG, the player characters gain levels by accruing experience, and thus grow more powerful and are better able to take damage. Score determines rank, and in the year following the game's North American release it was used to participate in contests sponsored by Working Designs.
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