Bombslinger (Switch eShop) Review
A spaghetti western, pixel-art, Bomberman-inspired game at approximately an eighth of the price, Bombslinger offers a good value alternative to those who felt burned by the steep asking price of Super Bomberman R. Featuring roguelike procedurally-generated levels in its single-player Adventure mode, and a four-player competitive mode, this indie title packs a fair bit into its neat little package.
In the Adventure mode, players assume the role of a retired outlaw motivated by a typical revenge plot, involving the murdering of his wife and razing of his property. Prior to beginning each run, players can equip a limited amount of equipable items, customising their loadout and resulting play style. These items include being able to drop more bombs at once, starting with more health, or increasing explosion blast zones. By defeating enemies and earning in-game achievements, more items are unlocked, in addition to more equipment slots to start each run with.
Upon starting this single-player jaunt, the level of detail in how each pixel is animated took me by surprise. Every aspect of the characters and environments looks and feels fantastic to interact with. I ran around in the beginning just laying bombs everywhere, just soaking in the high level of responsiveness in the smallest of details, such as the way long grass sways violently against a nearby explosion while the screen shakes in time with the action. As superfluous as this sounds, these dynamic, kinetic responses made the act of blasting enemies all the more satisfying.
Each level in this mode is made up of a series of procedurally-generated screens snaking their way to an end-level boss. From point A to B, there is a healthy variety of enemies to prevent monotony and challenge players to think beyond dropping bombs on random squares, hoping for the best. In between, treasure chests pop up on a regular basis, rewarding players with gold to spend at randomly-located shops, and power-ups to see them through their tale of revenge. However, the snake oil potions that are often found may yield a negative effect, such as loss of health, which can sometimes feel like a cheap way of adding difficulty at the behest of chance. This is soon forgotten once the challenging boss encounters kick in, featuring a range of big baddies complete with their own unique attack patterns, like the demonic goat who bashes your bombs straight back from whence they came, with devastating results.
After several attempts at beating Adventure mode (which must be beaten in one playthrough) over the course of five hours, I saw the credits roll after a thrilling final encounter. However, despite still having not unlocked all the loadout items, I did not feel the need to go back and play more. My biggest reason to go back for more would be to listen to Bombslinger‘s real John Wayne-swaggering soundtrack. While not quite Ennio Morricone classics (a totally unfair comparison, I admit), the fuzzy guitars and the dramatic tubular bells percussion arrangements make for great listening.
Arguably a significant drawcard for those seeking a Bomberman alternative, Bombslinger features a four-player multiplayer mode. Offering deathmatch and last-man-standing variants, the action is solid, chaotic fun, but it lacks enough depth and variety to be a Switch multiplayer staple. Granted, the AI bots in the absence of human players are very competent and will gleefully kick your arse over and over again, but one limitation kept bugging me. Once all the settings have been selected, the map stays the same for the number of rounds selected. A random map setting would be fantastic, allowing for a widely varied multiplayer session, but the only current solution would be to play single rounds and changing the map manually in between. A minor complaint, yes, but having the maps change during a tense best-of-five tournament would add another layer of excitement to the multiplayer action. As it currently stands, Bombslinger‘s multiplayer is good for short bursts, but is not quite a go-to experience.
Far from being a bomb itself, Bombslinger features a challenging single-player experience and a competent multiplayer mode, but not enough overall compelling depth to keep you coming back for more once the end credits roll. However, as it currently stands, Bombslinger represents better value than the Switch version of its Bomberman inspiration for what it offers at the tempting $13AUD price tag.
- Fantastic pixel-art animation
- Challenging and varied boss fights
- Bombing baddies feels extremely satisfying
- Multiplayer, while solid, feels thin
- Little incentive to keep playing after beating the Adventure mode