“Cover you eyes, little Timmy, this game is not for you!”
There is something a little unnerving about Sanuk Games’ Bombing Bastards on the Nintendo eShop for Wii U. What is essentially a Bomberman clone with a single player mode that involves blowing up relatively cute little critters, begins with a twinkly music track that would not seem out of place in a Disney movie (which may be where I have heard it before). Somehow, I don’t think that Disney would approve of either the name of this title or its content.
Anyway, despite the not quite fitting music and the questionable name, Bombing Bastards is a competent, if not ground breaking, arena-based puzzle/battle game for the Wii U. Any excuse to get some friends around and blow them up is okay in my book.
Bombing Bastards offers the player both a single player mode, which acts as more of a puzzle game, and an all action multiplayer competitive mode. Sadly, the game only allows for local multiplayer, but supports all manner of controllers for the Wii U and up to five players can sit around and blow each other up.
For the single player mode, players are given control of a bomb-dispensing robot, created by Dr. Wallow. This mad doctor seems intent on taking over the universe, and his bomb throwing creation is exactly how he intends to do it. While there is not really a story present, players will be treated to Dr. Wallow continuously spouting corny one-liners throughout the game. While light-hearted in purpose, the constant insane raving of Dr. Wallow can get tiresome after a while.
For those who have never played a Bomberman title before, as it has been a while since we have seen one, it is quite easy to pick up. The game area is a grid with various destructible obstacles and enemies littered around. The player will simply drop a bomb and move out of the way. This will destroy any obstacles or enemies within its range, allowing the player to move further and then drop more bombs.
Bombing Bastards’ single player game is set out more like a puzzle. After the tutorial which teaches the basics, players will move from level to level, achieving the objectives within a time limit. The levels are set upon different themed worlds which will add further conditions as the player progresses.
By destroying obstacles, the player will come across power ups which are essential for success. These may gift the player with a larger explosion range, the ability to drop more bombs at once, faster movement or even the ability to throw bombs over obstacles or remote detonate. The enemies vary, from the simple critters that seem to want to be blown up, through the more intelligent that actually avoid bombs, to the downright aggressive. There are even boss battles which are a real test of skill.
But then, the whole single player mode will test most players to the extent that they may start wondering if the game is somehow fixed. It is quite easy to fail in the game, despite the appreciated power ups working in the players favor. Also, the levels are randomly generated, so there is no chance of working out a plan through trial and error.
The single player mode is enjoyable and challenging, but the local multiplayer is where the most fun can be found. While the game doesn’t feel as smooth as the Bomberman games I remember from the past, all of the players will be dealing with the same limitations. Running around the arena, dropping bombs and watching for the blast radius of opposing bombs, while being mindful of power ups, teleporters and the like is multiplayer mayhem and can easily waste away a few hours with buddies. The options available for setting up matches are not huge, but when you are blowing up friends, how many options do you need?
Visually, Bombing Bastards is nothing particularly special. The actual gameplay areas are colourful and bright, but don’t feel as polished as perhaps other games on the eShop, whilst the menu screens feel positively dated, even down to the mouse pointer for selecting buttons. There is certainly room for improvement, but the way the game looks doesn’t affect the gameplay.
Bombing Bastards does what it says on the tin. The single player game is challenging enough to occupy a puzzle gamer, whilst the local multiplayer makes for an enjoyable party game. If you can ignore the unwise choice of title and you need a Bomberman clone in your Wii U library, then this is for you. Otherwise, Bombing Bastards is a serviceable if unremarkable game.