The puzzle genre has not seen innovation in some time. Sure, Puzzle Quest upped the ante a bit, but something so far out there that makes you step back and re-think your strategy has been in remission. In comes Slam Bolt Scrappers, a wildly twisted take on the genre. Think one part tower defense, one part Tetris and even one part Smash Bros. and you’ll begin to understand the core concept. This is one twisted game, but, once you get the hang of the controls, it also becomes one of the most addictive couch co-op games available on PSN.
I will try to explain the premise as best as I can in words. The game gives you control of one character. Your character will then be assigned to one side of the stage where you create your blocks. In order to obtain blocks you have to defeat enemies. Colors are matched up and you can cycle through the shapes creating blocks on your side of the stage. For every combination of colored blocks you create, you also create a turret, which, in turn, attacks the other side.
Sure, it sounds simple at first, but there are a lot of factors involved in the overall gameplay. For instance, you can obtain power-ups that give you advantages. You can also create shields that take the damage for your turrets. You can also create larger turrets by adding more blocks, and even attack your opponents head on. There is a lot going on at any given time and things can become chaotic. Your first two or three matches are going to be lessons in confusion with plenty of WTF moments, but if you take your time, play through the tutorials and keep an open mind, this game will hook you in no time flat.
This is, of course, a very rudimentary explanation of the game itself. You still need to play it to fully grasp what is at hand here, but, needless to say, it is unique. Now, that doesn’t mean it comes without some issues. I found the combat to be a bit shallow and not worth the time and effort. By the time you fly over, attack an opponent and, somehow, manage to take him down, your tower is taking a pummeling. It can also be cumbersome to place blocks properly with four players onscreen.
The biggest omission, though, is a lack of online play. When I chatted with the developers of the game at PAX East this year, they assured me it was something they didn’t leave out without considering the repercussions. They truly feel the game needs to be played as a couch co-op experience, and while I agree wholeheartedly, it is still disappointing to see such a common feature completely nixed.
Outside of that, there is still plenty to see and do within the core game. The campaign is short but sweet and offers plenty of replayability with unlockables and, of course, complete co-op. There is also a battle mode where you can pair up against friends and AI opponents. There are also boss battles that require careful strategic thinking. When you do get four friends together and take one down, it really is a satisfying experience.
Visually, the game is about as simple as it can be for as much chaos as is happening onscreen. The frame rate keeps up, for the most part, and the character designs are a nice blend of humor and originality. The boss creations are definitely imaginative, and the level designs are about as diverse as they can be. The game is bright and fun to look at, but when you get some of the more complex levels onscreen, things can get lost in all the chaos.
Slam Bolt Scrappers is definitely unique and original, but not without its share of issues. Still, you will be hard-pressed to find a more chaotic and fun experience, especially if you have three friends and four controllers. I dare you not to get wrapped up in the insanity. Plus, this makes an awesome drinking party game. Expect to lose some friends and, perhaps, a controller when the chaos ensues. Slam Bolt Scrappers is certainly worth checking out if you are in the market for a new, and unique, puzzle game.
Review copy provided by publisher.