Tuesday, April 10

Review: Bombslinger [Nintendo Switch eShop]

One of the best things about playing indie games is they have a tendency to do things that are initially unexpected but then feel like they were meant to be together. I consider it a sort of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup moment where you realize two play styles you love, when combined, just plain rock. This is most definitely the case of Bombslinger, and the two game styles being combined in this case are Bomberman and roguelikes. Having now played these two styles combined in such an expert manner I’m going to find it awfully hard to go back to plain old chocolate.

What story there is centers around your main character being done wrong, his wife killed and his ranch burned, and his quest for explosion-filled justice. While it may initially feel like a vanilla Bomberman clone once you begin to get your first items and upgrade choices as you level up those feelings will quickly fade. In fact, as you progress you can put together quite a diverse arsenal of skills and weaponry that make each playthrough feel quite distinct. It starts with the perk selection before you start, which gets more and more fleshed out the more you play and unlock achievements tied to beating bosses or completing certain objectives. At the start you’ll only be able to choose one perk from a very short list but with success you’ll be able to choose more than one and the selection will increase greatly, making your starting character a few hours in quite powerful even from the beginning.

That’s a good thing because your former associates are quite a formidable bunch and even some of the generic wildlife and normal enemies you encounter can be tricky to deal with if you’re stuck with only vanilla bombs. That’s where your skill and secondary weapon pick-ups can really make a difference, and pretty well everything you can use you should experiment with because combining the right skill with the right secondary weapon can make you quite fearsome, just be sure to keep an eye on your spirit gauge that powers your secondary weapon so you don’t come up short when you really need it. In true roguelike fashion there are temptations in the form of passive skills like luck that give you nothing specific but can return significant rewards, as well as Snake Oil, which you can consume hoping that it will help you and not hurt you. Boss battles are quite varied and pretty well always a challenge, especially since you’ll never know which boss you need to prepare for.

While the game has a solid multiplayer mode that is fun I’d say that, as a whole, it is just good but not necessarily great. While it features some of the same power-ups and can be chaotic fun the main attraction in the game is very much the single-player campaign that you’ll be hard-pressed not to want to return to in order to see and unlock every crazy thing the game has to offer. Being a roguelike it’s appropriate to warn that the degree of difficulty isn’t anything to laugh at, but at the same time each run you work through will help you refine your tactics and with some luck the right string of perks can really help you make it further than you’d previously thought you could.

Overall, Bombslinger is one of those titles where it feels like a crime if the world isn’t shouting from the rooftops about how much fun it is. Seeing only a few screenshots and a short description the possible impression would be that it’s merely a pixel art Bomberman clone and that’s a pity. Flat out, Bombslinger absolutely puts all attempts at the single-player Bomberman experience to shame, and confirms the sneaking suspicion I’ve had for years that the potential was always there for it to be much better than it was. Throw in a great generally classic multiplayer mode and the package is a real winner!

Score: 9

  • Makes significant strides towards perfecting the single-player Bomberman experience
  • A wide variety of perks, secondary weapons, and skills that make each run feel distinct
  • Diverse and and challenging enemies from the bosses all the way down

  • The great power-ups, perks, and skills don’t fully translate over to the multi-player, making it very good but not nearly as special
  • It being roguelike the level of challenge from run to run may not be for everyone