Awww... puddy tat fall down, go BOOM!
It's been years now since I saw the fabled, quarter-hungry Street Fighter first appear. From its throne of honor in the corner of the local Pizza Hut, it began a worldwide craze for fighting games. Since then, how many different fighting games have come out? 200? By now, there must be nearly 100 different permutations of the Street Fighter name alone (Take that, Street Fighter 2 Alpha Goku Turbo Extreme!). Capcom is so inspirational.
Over the years, innovations in the genre have occured in little baby steps. A new combo system here, 3D graphics there, and then occasionally someone tries to add full freedom of movement to the fighting arena. However, while combos and 3D graphics have been standardized by games like Tekken 2 and Soul Blade, arena fighting just hasn't caught on big, even with flashy titles like Bio Freaks and Ehrgeiz.
In my opinion, it all comes down to control. It's just easier to punch, kick, throw, and pull off super-gamma-ultra-power-limit-x-mega moves when your character automatically faces the enemy.
And so we come to Boombots, a new arena combat game (bet you didn't see that coming) and one of the strangest fighting games to come out in a long time. Or ever. Perhaps the strangest thing about Boombots is that the best part of the game isn't the game. It's the movies.
Welcome to the year 15 million billion, when alien cats have taken over the world. Or they're about to. Or something. It's actually not quite clear, and it not really important, because here to rescue the Earth are the Boombots! These intrepid combatants are the invention of the more-than-somewhat-mad Dr. Pick.
The wacky cast includes such unique robots as Boomer (leader of the Boombots), Chicky Boom (obligatory female), Hans - Texas Walker (Yeeehaw!), Pittsburg (big n' slow), and Moby Tank (Oklahoma militia). Of course, I just couldn't leave out Le Chip: "The French harnessed the power of Jerry Lewis, injected it into a mechanical monkey and Le Chip was born." Add five hidden characters for a total of 15 totally deranged entries.
In their mission across space to defeat the alien cat king, the Boombots will have to do battle with... no, not alien cats... other Boombots! Although they are painted different colors, you only fight against your fellow bots. The alien cats are really just in the movies that you get to see in-between each round of combat. In fact, the whole.. err... 'plot' is really just an excuse to justify the claymation movies, and they are worth it.
Boombots is the latest creation from the animation geniuses at 'the Neverhood', the folks who brought us the Neverhood Chronicles and Skullmonkeys. However, unlike those other great titles (which also had great movies), the unique claymation shorts are by far the best part of Boombots. The bizarre antics of the Boombots, the green alien cats, and one particular flatulent housekitty will have you in stitches.
Unfortunately, there aren't that many movies, and since they play in between each bout, you only have to play through the game once to see all of them. After that, all you're left with is the game...
...which isn't that great. The fighting itself is actually not too bad. It has been simplified a bit to allow for the extra controls of running around the arena and jumping. Each Boombot has missiles, machine guns, and some throw moves for close-in work. Blocking a missile actually reflects it back at your opponent, leading to some deadly games of tennis.
The big problem is the graphics, which are grainy and choppy at best. It's a real shame to keep going back and forth between the fantastic looking animated bots and the clunky lo-res polygonal bots in the actual game.
Finally, as a last insult, if you spend the time and beat the whole game flawlessly, you are awarded with... no, not a new fantastic claymation movie... a movie of the developers in their offices acting goofy. Very disappointing. Sorry guys, I just don't really care about your little home movies, and I don't want your mom to show me your baby pictures, either.
And that's about it for Boombots, yet another arena fighter that won't advance the genre at all. I actually recommend this one as a rental, since the fighting isn't that bad and it's worth checking out just for the movies. But for god's sake, don't buy it - you'll never get more than a few days of amusement out of the Boombots.