Bombing Bastards

Bombing Bastards is Bomberman.

By Daavpuke, Posted 28 Dec 2014

Some say innovation is dead and judging by Bombing Bastards’ swagger, this may be a more accurate statement. This arcade game’s carbon copy of Bomberman’s tile grids and explosive antics is nearly as capable, if anything, though it comes with some lesser tweaks that upset its carefully constructed balance. Some odd control choices are tougher to swallow than the project’s appropriation from greater peers.

Bombing Bastards,PC,Wii U,Review

For what it’s worth, at least the game’s look doesn’t lazily tie to nostalgia with pixel art, instead opting for a sleek, cartoon blend of its own. Effects and their respective sounds may be dull, but a singular attempt is something to go on. In more of a throwback, the soundtrack remixes classical tracks into a modern beat. It’s a clever twist, even if it does more of that leaning on others bit it’s doing for its entire gameplay scheme.

In short: Bombing Bastards plays nearly identical to Bomberman in every sense. A character starts on a sectioned grid with destructible obstacles in the way that can be dealt with via bombs. Each block leaves a power-up, such as increased bombing range, ability to throw or being able to detonate explosives remotely. These abilities are the key to varying the normal design of putting down a bomb, getting out of dodge and waiting for it to blow up. With these boosting items in pocket, the character can now lob death from behind obstacles or kick a charge to a retreating enemy. As enhancements stack, creativity can flourish to some degree. Maintaining this talent well, midst the chaos of explosions, is the joy of playing Bomberman and so also this arcade venture.

Enemies have different behaviors and abilities of their own. Some merely saunter, while others actively seek out bombers. Monsters can also surprise with a shot projectile or by punching down obstacles, closing that safety gap between player and instant death. Any touch from any foe and the level has to be redone.

Bombing Bastards,PC,Wii U,Review

In particular, setting multiple bombs in an attempt to trap enemies can become a tense puzzle. As the fire spreads far and wide into the mazes of the game, trying to figure out which tile is still safe for cover makes all the difference between a bumbling apprentice and a master craftsman. Yet, Bombing Bastards has a sizable issue on that matter. Instead of moving tile to tile, the character’s cursed with a fluid motion. This means that if the bomber isn’t precisely shuffled behind the block, the hit box will be triggered by a fraction of its model not being behind cover. As such, this leads to many cheap deaths and a lot of frustration, before that strategy is all but an effort in futility. Instead, Bombing Bastards has to be played with a much larger margin of effort. Are bombs put in the upper right quadrant of the screen? Better move to the lower right to avoid any and all blowouts. It certainly is not as satisfying a tactic and won’t work in later confinements, but it’s a workaround, if anything.

After a few normal levels, the campaign’s worlds are capped off with a boss fight with limited power-ups handed out. These battles are strenuous affairs, requiring the main enemy to be hit time and again, while the onslaught of attacks grow ever larger. Luckily, should these challenges be too grating, it’s possible to skip to a new environment, without overcoming the main bout.

Aside from the singleplayer mode, Bombing Bastards has two alternatives: A free rendition of its arcade gameplay with a few more local opponents or artificial intelligence (AI) or a lowly populated online possibility. With the latter one usually out of the question, the prior will be more important to add to the endless replay value. Here, however, there’s a strange problem that the game doesn’t detect the proper control scheme. Despite operating a controller, the first choice is always mapped to the lesser keyboard controls. With no custom controls, but instead an alternate scheme, playing locally is more of a hassle than it ought to be.

In turn, still, the free brawls are as functional as Bomberman days as well. Defeated players can come back as ghosts that pester the remaining contestants, even trying to trick them into an early grave. With a bunch of customization options, matches can be played as leisurely or hardcore as desired.

To reiterate as succinctly as possible: Bombing Bastards is Bomberman. It may have sloppier controls, but it’s otherwise all there. The tile mazes, the bomb constructions, power-ups and hectic arcade gameplay; it works as it always has. It’s not an extravagant mastery of the genre, but it isn’t a horrible cloning effort and if it is, at least it’s a diverting one.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed (@Daavpuke)

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General Information

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Sanuk Games
Developer(s): Sanuk Games
Genres: Arcade
Themes: Action
Release Date: 2014-12-04

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