In the past, indie developers would indicate the past games that inspired theirs through the adoption of some gameplay concepts or even animations. These days, many indie developers show off their inspirations by pretty much using the exact same formula as the games that inspired theirs. Bombing Busters is one of those games. Unfortunately, the Bomberman-style gameplay just isn’t as endearing here, regardless of whether you’re playing single player or co-op.
Aesthetically, the visuals are simply fine. Very simplistic and not stylized to really stand out in any significant way. The maps remain the same with the rectangle maps and the fairly standard-looking enemies, with the only alterations to them being the theme switches during transitions to new worlds (there are 5). Textures aren’t particularly detailed, the character models are stylized similarly with an overly-simplistic look that doesn’t stand out for its complexity or its simplicity like the iconic Bomberman model.
The maps themselves are also the standard “forest, fire, ice” themes (with the fire and Spark worlds being the most visually appealing maps). The focus may be on the gameplay during the player’s time on these maps, but that’s also because the visuals don’t do enough to truly stand out from the gameplay itself.
Speaking of gameplay, it’s enjoyable but not particularly note-worthy. As is immediately apparent when starting your first level, this is a Bomberman clone in every respect. The difference is that spread out throughout the map, there are certain power-ups that range from increased number of bombs, farther-reaching bomb explosions, faster movement, and a gained ability to throw bombs or kick them. This certainly gave another incentive to blow up each block or obstacle in an effort to better your chances of dispatching the foes, but it has its drawbacks as well.
The drawbacks mainly derive from the loss of gameplay flow due to the map design and these power-ups that certainly add some additional strategy, but slow down the pace of each level. When compared to their B-Man counterpart, it simply doesn’t retain the same level of fast-paced and engaging action. The pace is slower, certainly more strategic, but due to the slower movement of the player, lacks the same level of flow and ends up being far more rage-inducing.
This rage typically stems from the boss battles and hard-to-avoid instant deaths. The difficulty level for the game is surprisingly brutal at certain moments, requiring extreme levels of strategy even at World 1-1. The rest of the rage comes from when players aren’t given the multiple bomb ability or even the ability to throw, so they have to make do with what they’ve got. It certainly helps test the player’s ability to improvise on the go, but more often than not, it just leads to a death.
Thanks to the enemies that are programmed to avoid your bombs, you will likely die A LOT. That is certainly par for the course with this style of game, but since the gameplay lacks any kind of variety outside of the slightly altered maps, it gets old too quickly. Boss battles help change up the flow of gameplay and offers a different challenge, but these often lead to plenty of cheap deaths and restarts. They’re fun at first, but quickly grows tiresome and you’ll be glad when you lay down that final bomb to take them out and end it.
Overall, the gameplay offers some strategic and fun moments, but lacks the variety needed to provide longevity and ultimately comes up short of providing players with a memorable experience.
When starting up the game, you’ll notice that many of the songs are classical ones like “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and “Carnival for Animals” with slight alterations (The Nutcracker theme also makes many, many appearances). The songs are perfectly enjoyable and fitting to the gameplay. However, the game could’ve use more songs for their soundtrack as these select few songs get overplayed too much and add to BB‘s overall repetition.
There’s also the few examples of voice acting involving Dr. Wallow’s extremely eccentric dialogue delivery and the narrative voice that explains the game’s concepts. It’s clear that they’re going for a very personable and fun motif with Wallow, but he can become pretty irritating due to his high-pitched delivery. The fact that there’s an option to turn off Wallow’s voice in the Options menu illustrates that the developers recognized the potential annoyance and decided to make it possible to eliminate the voice entirely. The narrative voice is fairly standard, monotone (but fitting), so it at least doesn’t become irritating or bothersome enough to turn it off.
While the music is enjoyable, the voice acting isn’t noteworthy and, in Dr. Wallow’s case, can be a bit of an annoyance. The gameplay noises seem pretty standard as well, so they too are a little too standard.
The multiplayer experience is another aspect of Bombing Busters where it doesn’t quite reach the level of the multiplayer in Bomberman and its fast-paced, energetic co-op. However, that doesn’t mean BB multiplayer isn’t a fun time. The Xbox One version this review is for didn’t have matchmaking for online multiplayer, so the game was limited to just couch co-op. My time with it was still enjoyable as I got to play with some friends around me and it got pretty chaotic at the conclusion of the matches. The goal here is to knock out fellow players through the strategic placement (and flame extension) of your bombs in an effort to be the last player standing. It got to be addicting for the first couple modes as a sense of arrogance washed over the room if a particular person was winning the most matches, so additional matches were needed for some lessons in humility.
However, if you’re thinking of picking up the Xbox One version of this game and you don’t have anyone to play with, then your options will be very limited. You can play against AI (which is still entertaining enough) or you have to go recruiting for some potential couch competitors. I hope that there will be an update in which some matchmaking can be made possible for Xbox One players because the multiplayer is too limited without it at the moment.
Multiplayer offers a good amount of chaotic fun a couple rounds at a time, but without the online matchmaking, it’s simply not too enticing to keep loading up a match without other friends to play with.
Finally, when it comes to the replay value, it’s somewhere in the middle between good and poor. If you make a silly mistake and blow yourself up, then you shrug it off and start up another round to try and get the max three stars for each level. However, after playing for over an hour, those extra attempts start to lose their appeal and begin to make the game feel somewhat limited in what the gameplay can offer.
As previously mentioned, the replay value is strong for the first 5-10 rounds. After that, the game can begin to feel too familiar and lacking in variety for players’ liking, leading to them moving on shortly after a couple of quick deaths cut their playtime short. The game’s slightly changing maps and scoring system adds a sense of replayablity to each level, but that too remains short-lived as players may look to move on shortly after a couple levels.