In the video game studio kitchen, it seems that everyone knows the recipe for success:
- Cool bad ass character
- Crazy environment
- Awesome weapons
- Interesting story
Now, what happens when you don’t want to follow the recipe and instead try to create something brand new using old ideas? Well, that’s what we’re going to find out in today’s review of Slam Bolt Scrappers.
By screenshot and trailer viewing alone, I really wanted to play Slam Bolt Scrappers so badly it hurt. Somehow, something that didn’t translate well was that the game is made up of a bunch of ideas that just don’t mesh all that well together. Slam Bolt Scrappers is an interesting mix of puzzle gameplay (think Tetris) and a weird beat em’ up.
The object of Slam Bolt Scrappers is to destroy your opponent’s tower before he destroys yours. The thing is, you can’t do the damage yourself (well, not without a power-up anyway), so it’s up to you to build weapons and gadgets to both defense and to give yourself an offensive edge. Both weapons and gadgets are created when you successfully create a block of 4 or more of the same coloured blocks and with one exception are controlled automatically. Now, this would be all well and good if all you had to do was just stack blocks and hope for the best, but no, you have to fight little monsters to gain the blocks, and aside from the colour of the enemy you have no idea what shape of block you’re going to get.
Slam Bolt Scrappers (PlayStation 3 [Reviewed], PC)
Developer: Fire Hose Games
Publisher: Fire House Games
Released: March 15, 2013
Sadly, this is where the craziness just begins because aside from playing harvester, protector, and craftsman, you also have to contend with your opponent’s avatar attacking you or stealing parts from you, the environmental disasters affecting both you and your tower, and defending yourself and your tower from the block containing monsters. Even though the game does a great job of slowly walking you through each new ability or danger to watch out for, it’ll quickly devolve into utter chaos where you don’t even have time to form a strategy or to use more advanced concepts like grabbing a transparent block to remove mistakes or just to restructure your tower. To be fair, I’m sure you could get used to it in time or switch to an easier difficulty, but the one thing I just couldn’t get over was the controls.
The default controls are just not very good. Your character moves with the mouse; the left mouse button places the puzzle pieces, A and D are your fast and strong attacks respectively, S is your block and Q and W rotates pieces for you. There’s just too much happening all at once to be able to attack monsters and drop pieces into place while not accidentally either rotating the piece or dropping it where you didn’t want to. It’s odd that on the Steam Store page it is strongly recommended that you use an Xbox 360 controller. If it’s recommended that a traditional game controller be used, then why is it on Steam? More importantly, why doesn’t it just recommend a PC gamepad?
This is probably a weird complaint for me, but the game doesn’t support online multiplayer, only local. Now it doesn’t bother me too much because I’m more of a single-player type of gamer anyway, but what about all the Steam users out there looking for that new crazy game to play with their friends? This could have been a huge point for the game because at least you and your Steam friends could fumble through the game together.
Huge on style, small on solid design choices, this game could have been amazing if it was just given a bit more time in the kitchen, fine-tuning the ingredients to get an awesome dish of gameplay craziness instead of something that feels underbaked and not well thought out. All the colourful blocks, lasers and winged ninja power-ups can’t save this game from its shortcomings. That being said, the music and sound effects are solid and at only $10, it’s still a solid buy for those times when you want a fresh take on the classic puzzle game. Perhaps a patch down the road will fix the controls or tone down the chaos. Enjoyable in snack-sized gaming bites.
[Written by contributor Shane Peltzer]