I love games like Super Smash Bros, which add in quirky humor to the fun of ridiculous and fairly epic fights. I also love puzzle games like Tetris, where the really fun aspect of the game is just playing it and figuring out how to last. It’s different styles and motivations of play. One’s the extrinsic motivation surviving a fight, while the other’s an intrinsic motivation based in playing for its own sake. There is one thing to wonder about. Would the two formats actually mix well?
Slam Bolt Scrappers plays a lot like a test of this mixture, while also being a full game. The result is actually pretty good. Though, personally, if there was something to complain about, I would say that it’s the lack of a story. I mean sure, Tetris doesn’t need a story, but fighting games usually do have a story or at least a premise to give context to any violence. That’s where a mixture of the two game styles ends up having a failing.
Stack ‘n’ smack
As said earlier, Slam Bolt Scrappers is Tetris meets Super Smash Bros. You build towers of increasingly powerful weapons and defenses to destroy your opponent(s)’s tower(s). In the process, you’re also physically fighting to try to stop your opponents from effectively building a tower and defense. Sometimes there’s just random power ups or enemies that wander into frame to complicate matters further. The complication is just added challenge. Let’s face it. If you didn’t like taking on unnecessary challenges and trying to think about problems in new ways, you probably wouldn’t enjoy games anyway.
The mechanics are pretty simple. As blocks appear after defeating random fly-in enemies, you attempt to grab them to incorporate them into your tower. As you build squares of at least a 2×2 size. You can either continue to make smaller weapons and shields depending on how you build. You can also continually increase the size and strength of weapons and defenses by building larger squares (3×3, 4×4, 5×5, etc.) of the same color. You can take multiple blocks to build with or to limit your opponent’s access to building materials. They can do the same thing to you too. You can temporarily knock your opponent out through physical attacks until they respawn, but they can do the same thing to you. If the random enemies aren’t taken care of, they can do damage to either of the fighting characters or their towers. By the end of each level, the character with a tower still standing wins. As things progress, the settings get more dynamic. For example, platforms end up switch positions or change altitude in the level.
The art design is simplistic, yet effective in its own quirky light. It does come across a lot like Super Smash Bros. It’s a similar bright and flashy style that Nintendo games tend to have, at least for games where Mario is directly involved. It definitely will grab the attention of at least the Nintendo fans out there.
While it is good, there is one other flaw other than the minimal, barely-there illusion of a story. It’s more the fact that while there are multiple characters, in the campaign, there really isn’t much in the way of variations in play styles that each character is more suited to. More varieties in play style would actually give the game far more replayability than it already has. This is just more of a personal gripe, but it really doesn’t drop the overall quality of the game all that much. The variety really depends on the multiplayer since then you have to adapt to how the other players play.
Best with gamepad
Now there is one thing that might seem like a flaw, but it really doesn’t affect the overall quality of the product. Since the game is optimized for a gamepad, the controls can get confusing if you’re playing using a mouse and/or keyboard. This is especially true when there’s a lot of action happening. Then again, it also warns the player that a gamepad is recommended. It’s not really a complaint about the overall product. The keyboard controls could be more streamlined, but aside from the occasional confusion . That being said, the game has also shown up in the PSN store. So if you don’t want to get a Windows-compatible gamepad, but have a PS3, it’s still only $9.99 and well worth the price.
My tower still stands
So, all in all, Slam Bolt Scrapper‘s a basic and immensely fun game. It has a lot of heart and a distinctive style that is also reminiscent of Super Smash Bros. It’s a solid mash-up of genres that normally don’t work all that well together, at least in my opinion. Even though, it can get confusing using a mouse and keyboard, the game does warn you about being optimized for a gamepad. So you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. If you’ve got friends willing to play, it has strong multiplayer components, including a co-op campaign for up to four players locally. And it’s very affordable, especially for the amount of replayability that’s possible.