Slam Bolt Scrappers

A very innovating concept with a good idea and amusing alternating gameplay.

By Daavpuke, Posted 20 Mar 2011

Since 2 decades ago, people have realized the power of block shapes. A merger of Tetris into your game will mean immediate attention by any focus group that has ever enjoyed the communist unity game played by billions. When paired with the rising popularity of tower defense games, you’ll get the most casual non-casual title around and it will be dubbed Slam bolt Scrappers!

NoobFeed Review - Slam Bolt Scrappers
Sombrero's and chef hats are also a prime part of Slam Bolt Scrappers

This rich, colorful building game revolves around puzzling same colors together in order to create a tower of defensive and offensive squares. In an environment of cel-shaded skyscrapers, mountains and erupting volcanoes the zany, flying contractors duke it out for tower supremacy. Only by annihilating the opposition like a mob teamster will a team claim victory and advance to the next challenge. Each terrain can have a different twist such as a rotating platform or a balanced lava pit, which requires players to keep two towers in equilibrium or see the heavy column descend into the bowels of hell. This alternating setting, paired with the original building mechanic offers a nice variety of game settings that feel fresh to play.

A level is mostly played by building these blocks and making sure to keep a tower up and running. To acquire blocks, the contractors can fly up to baddies and stomp them to a blocky pulp, which will yield the Tetris-shaped goodies. From there, they need to combine the same colors together in order to make a square; creating a weapon whose power is determined by the magnitude of the block. There are a handful of colors to choose from with each offering a different type of weapon or defensive unit. Combining both elements does require some tactical vision, as it doesn’t suffice to just cram a bunch of blocks together. A tower will be useless if filled with shields and an unprotected laser show might still be left vulnerable. In addition, the most powerful black blocks are cleverly balanced by only firing when operated manually. As each square also has a reload time, the premise of the game is rather equalized for both sides and overwhelming will be more due to different factors. In particular, owning a large quantity of green drills is insanely effective and annoying for the enemy.

NoobFeed Review - Slam Bolt Scrappers
Black cannons are block operated, but launch a spicy meatball.

These drills, as well as other weapons, offer a nice differentiating gameplay, as drill-heads fired from the square can perform devastating attacks and need to be punched off. Additionally, players can defeat the “worst ninjas ever” and obtain power-ups from their corpses. Again divided amongst defense and offense, these temporary boosts can alter an outcome if used properly. But teamsters can also clubber each other to prevent this from happening or just to steal an opponent’s blocks. If killed, a player will become unavailable for a time and a quick time event will trigger to lower the time of death before reentry. With all these things present as building progresses, there’s always a lot going on during a game of Slam Bolt Scrappers.

Strangely enough though, this cluster of action is both the appeal and downfall of Slam Bolt Scrappers. While the hectic gameplay keeps a pace at an all-time high, it is also very easy to get overwhelmed by it all and lose focus. An overview, especially in panned out levels, is almost impossible to maintain and this leaves players vulnerable to become swamped without their knowledge. In addition, the very tough control scheme isn’t so much rigid as it’s just impossible to time during all the mayhem. Turning and dropping blocks accurately require a certain finesse that is unavailable as a contractor is getting punched in the face or torpedoed. Arguably, this can be part of the fun, but mostly it just leads to frustration as a building strategy is completely ruined if just one block falls out of place. This isn’t like in Tetris, where a badly placed block can be turned around in the end. As colors prevent improvising, a badly placed block can only be removed with transparent blocks, requiring more time which a player does not have. This will result in a game being easily bogged down or requiring a very steady and focused hand.

NoobFeed Review - Slam Bolt Scrappers
Slam Bolt Scrappers has alternating levels such as an enemy Armageddon.

Still, the colorful and amusing appeal of this game is more than enough to keep gameplay fun at most times. A campaign takes players through a set of different levels and challenges with set boss fights. But unfortunately this campaign is ridiculously short and out of 3 or so boss fights, 2 bosses are the same; leaving not much lasting value to that part of the game, even if playable in 4 difficulties.

As a whole, Slam Bolt is a game one will need to enjoy with friends. Co-operative play is immediately more pleasing and shouting at companions becomes part of the routine, as it is always someone else’s fault a building plan is collapsing! The difficulty of team play also ramps up adequately, leaving multiplayer to become the foremost attraction of Slam Bolt Scrappers. In an additional Battle mode, players can choose to duke it out in up to four player free-for-alls or in teams, with the latter being the most amusing. But the strangest part of it all is that there isn’t any online mode to take on players not fraternizing on a couch together. And while I’ll be the first advocate that these implementations are mere surplus, it’s inexplicable why an online-only release that simply screams of multiplayer does not offer an online mode. In an age where every other game needlessly has one, the one game that should offer online play shrugs its shoulders; it’s the world in reverse.

NoobFeed Review - Slam Bolt Scrappers
This Slam Bolt Scrappers boss can't get enough beatdowns.

In conclusion, Slam Bolt is a very innovating concept with a good idea and amusing alternating gameplay. While its brevity and tough to master mechanics can be a downer for some, other players will enjoy the simple yet tactical feel from revisiting the most twisted version of Tetris ever created. Even if it makes some quaint choices with no online mode, any person with at least one friend and a couch can lean back and let the good times roll on this release.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed. (@Daavpuke)

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General Information

Platform(s): PS3
Publisher(s): Slam Bolt Scrappers
Developer(s): Fire Hose Games
Genres: Strategy
Themes: Action, Puzzle
Release Date: 2011-03-15

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