Some games fit comfortably into a genre, while others straddle lines and defy simple definition. Slam Bolt Scrappers is in the latter group, combining a mix of puzzle, brawler and strategy elements. The result is a frantic, fun game that is unlike anything else. It’s a real treat to play, even though most people will be stuck playing it single player.
The game is divided into levels, each with one or more platforms for both the player and opponent(s). Flying through the air are gremlin-like creatures, which, when attacked, drop blocks of various colors and shapes. Blocks of the same color can be fitted together to create squares, which then become weapons capable of attacking the opponent’s platform. Weapons can be upgraded by adding more blocks, and larger squares mean larger weapons.
Winning requires destroying all of the weapons on an opponent’s platform. The strategy element in the game comes from knowing when to build and when to attack. Weapons will automatically attack the opponent’s platform, but players can attack each other, stealing blocks they have collected or knocking them out of the game for a short while. There are times when it is more important to forego building weapons in order to prevent an opponent from bolstering his or her own arsenal.
In addition to offensive weapons, certain color blocks will build defensive gear, which will absorb enemy attacks or even reflect them back. Unwanted blocks can be used to regain health, or fed to super-powerful cannons that must be fired manually. Some stages also have ninjas, which can be attacked to reveal powerups, temporarily granting abilities like stealing another player’s weapons, or even attacking weapons directly.
Slam Bolt Scrappers is fun and frantic, as decisions to build, attack or hunt powerups must be made constantly. Occasional boss fights require a combination of attacks, as usually direct assaults are required to create openings for weapons to do damage. The boss fights are a nice change of pace, and they add another dimension to the game.
The game features full support for the 360 controller, and in fact states explicitly that a controller is highly recommended. After playing, I can understand why, as the game just doesn’t lend itself to keyboard and mouse controls. The gameplay is smooth and sharp, and I had no trouble navigating, attacking or dropping blocks right where I wanted them.
Slam Bolt Scrappers features a cute, cartoonish art style. Players, enemies, weapons and powerups are all whimsical and fun, and play unlocks additional characters as well as some goofy hats to put on them. The music fits perfectly; light and playful, it provides a nice background without ever getting in the way or becoming repetitive.
This is a game that cries out to be played with friends, but options on that front are sadly limited. The game supports local play only, which is especially limited by the control scheme, since not many players have more than one controller hooked to their PC, let alone 4. It’s a real shame that there is no online play, because advancing through the single player campaign really made me want to jump online and trash talk with a friend as my cannon destroyed their weapons.
There’s a lot to Slam Bolt Scrappers, and the game does a great job of walking you through new concepts as you progress. It’s a unique concept and a lot of fun to play, although the lack of online multiplayer is a real disappointment. Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had in the single player game, and for $10 it’s definitely worth picking up.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.