The best puzzle games are often the simplest – take Tetris for example. Well Super Bomb Rush is certainly a simple game. It’s essentially a number of brief stages, each lasting no more than five seconds, where you have to quickly enter a series of on-screen commandsto prevent a bomb from exploding. But is that enough for gamers to have a blast, or is just a dud?
You might expect a game about defusing bombs to be quiet and suspenseful, but that’s definitely not the case here. Looking and sounding like a particularly in-your-face arcade game it’s all bright flashing lights and and blaring noise. It even prompts you to insert a coin at the title screen. The arcade styling continues when actually playing the game as the with giant, colourful bombs in the centre of the screen and pink directional arrows on the left. And that’s the start of several problems right there – when playing you spend all your time staring at this narrow field on the left and ignoring the other 90% of the screen. If you do glance at the centre you can see the increasingly agitated bomb and a burning fuse, but no clear indication of how much time you have left. (There is a timer at the bottom but it counts up rather than down, and is cumulative rather than specific to the current stage).
There’s a whole host of basic design mistakes, including the lack of a tutorial. This isn’t immediately a problem when playing as it’s fairly obvious you just need to press the corresponding directional buttons. But when the red hazard icon appears how are you supposed to know that means press the ‘A’ button? Or that when the arrows are red instead of purple it means press the opposite direction? Frustrated by this I was forced to access the help menu where I encountered another problem – you can’t scroll backwards when reading! Not a huge problem (you can quit and open the menu again) but a very obvious issue.
This sort of problems could be overlooked if the gameplay of Super Bomb Rush was worth it, but to be honest it’s very much lacking in that department as well. Gameplay is extremely repetitive, and there isn’t even a particularly solid feeling as you press the relevant buttons to defuse the bombs. I do feel I should say something positive at some point, so I’ll at least give credit to the music. As brash and cheesy as it is I actually quite enjoyed it. I’m not so sure about the commentator though whose obnoxious exclamations (WINNING! SKILLS! DEFUSED!) do start to grate after a while.
Four gameplay modes are available, although at the start only the standard arcade mode is unlocked. This consists of 50 quickfire stages of increasingly difficulty, with just one mistake resulting in a ‘game over’ screen sending you right back to the start. Admittedly there is an element of enjoyment here, especially as you feel yourself improving and getting further with each attempt. But conversely it gets frustrating having to repeat the easy early stages, particularly as they’re exactly the same each time. An option for a checkpoint system so you could start at level 20 or 30 would have helped enormously.
But at least every failed attempt rewards you with a random amount of gold coins so within about half an hour of failed attempts you’ll be able to unlock the three other modes. Unfortunately two are the local multiplayer modes (one competitive, one co-op) which quickly outstay their welcome. This leaves Goal Rush mode which is actually briefly engaging with five challenge types and seven difficulty levels. Bizarrely though, once you’ve passed a challenge you’re unable to make any further attempts at it. Also conspicuous by their absence are any online multiplayer options, or even leaderboards. Not that you’d be likely to use them, but you’d think the option would be there.
Super Bomb Rush is a limited concept and not executed very well either. It feels cheap and basic, and I’m not sure why any self-respecting Xbox One owner would purchase it – at least not deliberately.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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