I first played the game at EB Expo, shown off by the guys at Nnooo all the way in the far back corner of the indie pavilion. This version of the game was on the PS4, but the general idea was there- you’re holding off violent bunnies using a culinary arsenal of vegetables launched from a rotating turret. There wasn’t a 3DS version of the game to show off just yet, but I was excited to see how the game would handle the 3DS console’s gyro capabilities. It’d basically be Virtual Reality, just without the headgear, right? And well… it’s exactly that!
The controls remind me of the first person aiming in Ocarina of Time 3D or Majora’s Mask 3D; but instead of a slingshot or bow, you have a cannon launching carrots into the battlefield. You can’t move, instead fixed to one pivot point where you swing your turret around all 360 degrees. A circle, if you will. I ended up using the controls in a similar fashion to Splatoon or the aforementioned 3DS Zelda games- swing the camera into the rough area where I want to shoot, and use the gyro to put the carrot right where I needed it.
There’s a lot of different types of ammo, with different properties. You start off with a Carrot Rifle, but you can soon upgrade to Heat-Seeking Parsnips, or the shotgun-esque Sweet Potato Pellets. From there, you can also change up the turret weapon entirely- the Turnip Mortar will lob gourds and large veggies like grenades, while the Watermelon Machine Gun (band name, called it) will shoot seeds, including chili and berry seeds to choose from. And finally, the Runner Bean Laser, shooting… lasers? I wish my veggies were that exciting.
I could talk all day about the weapons, but what the heck are you shooting? Well… bunnies. You blast them. There’s a small but smart selection of different types of bunnies- there are the fat walkers (they’re big, so they’re slow), the energetic runners (wearing jogging gear, and they also make a karate chop sound when they’re close to you), and a few more that have some clever and obvious traits to give you a clue to what they’re going to do. My favourite are the flying bunnies, using a wooden frame under their massive, wing like ears to slowly glide towards you. On top of the types, they will also show up in different colours to indicate how tough they are, with blue as the weakest, yellow in the middle, and red being the toughies.
There’s also the uncommon boss battles, with a gigantic kaiju bunny menacingly stomping it’s way towards your turret. It’s not too tough- you just shoot the bandaids on his belly to topple him, then shoot the massive, gross and engorged belly button while he’s down. On top of that, you will also randomly encounter bunnies holding your baby rabbits at hostage… with a knife. I haven’t discovered what happens if you fail to rescue, and nor do I want to! I actually find it a tiny bit out of place in the mostly cartoony world of the game, but it definitely did achieve the goal of making me feel like the stakes were high, at least for that moment.
Also, as a big fan of video game music, I want to say the soundtrack for this game is just perfect! At the time of writing, I can only listen to 3 or so tracks (each Arena DLC will come with 3 tracks to fit the theme), but they fit so well with the setting of the farmhouse and general mayhem! Anyway, moving on…
One issue I ran into, however, is there’s no real impact or feedback when you hit an enemy with your vegetables. The particle effects and sounds are mostly the same depending on if you hit the ground or an enemy, so you have to pay very close attention to where your carrots, or whichever, are hitting. Something like a text confirmation, to a sound effect upon hit would help making the connection a bit firmer.
Another minor issue I had was with the frenzy mode that activates when you kill the golden bunny. Basically, you go invincible for the entire wave, with a 3 barreled cannon, and there’s a buttload more bunnies to shoot. Too many bunnies, perhaps, with my 3DS chugging a bit when there was a lot of shooting and fat bunnies in my face. It’s not gamebreaking, however, if you consider you can’t be harmed during this period- but still worth noting. I also noticed a similar problem in the Slaughter Mode, which I’ll get into in a bit!
If there’s one thing I’m a sucker for, it’s the mobile game trope of “complete missions, buy upgrades, level up”. In Blast ‘Em Bunnies, there’s a few missions active at a time, with things like “kill this many of this type of bunny” or the daily missions of “collect this many coins”. It’s enough for me to play ‘just one more’ to try and complete a mission, and then see it immediately replaced by a new one. On top of that, there are medals, which I feel are similar to the idea of achievements or trophies. Some are simply “kill this many in total”, and some are asking for tasks a bit more straight forward, like “Defeat your first boss”. It’s cool to see something like 4-5 of these pop up on screen during a particularly hectic round.
As for stuff to unlock, you can change the type of cannon you use, to the type of ammo it shoots, and you can even upgrade the number of barrels! A lot of the ammo types drop as power-ups in normal play, which is a really neat ‘try before you buy’ mechanism. You can also upgrade your hearts, up to a max of 8. Everything else beyond this point is paid DLC, which was a little frustrating. I would love to see more stuff in the game unlock depending on progress! There are also different customisation options available as DLC, including levels and bunny themes (like zombies, ninjas or clowns), but you seem to be locked into the farmhouse and normal bunnies for the base game, which is a bit of a shame.
The game itself costs $6.99, with the skin packs being $2.49 and the arenas $3.99. You can also grab a bundle of a skin pack and arena for $5.49. I haven’t had the chance yet to add on more DLC, however depending on how much fun you get out of the game it may or may not be worth it to expand
Lastly, there’s a few different gametypes that play around with the established rules. I’ve mostly been talking about the game in the normal, endless shooter mode. You shoot bunnies in waves, and basically just try to last as long as possible.
There’s also the Slaughter Mode I mentioned earlier, which will turn on invincibility/frenzy mode, and you have to kill as many rabbits as possible in two minutes. Sadly, the sheer amount of bunnies on screen will slow the game down, even with 3D turned off. Hopefully this can be fixed in a future patch, but for now, it does feel a bit like a struggle. And lastly, there’s Slaughter Mode Super and Ultra, where there’s no invincibility, and in Ultra, only 3 hearts!
Solid controls, fun gameplay, addictive progression
Some slowdown at times, not much variety in environments outside of DLC