What the hell is going on here?
A burly man with massive fists flies through the air and wallops an impish creature in mid-flight. The monster turns into a Tetris block held by and dragging behind the brawler as he swipes at another player. Drills, lasers, and rockets fly through the air as platforms become covered in ash from a volcanic eruption. Meanwhile, I try to delicately nudge the guy with the big knuckles into a position so that the Tetris block forms a square with a similarly colored block already in place. Was my character always wearing that chef's hat? WTF?
[image1]It's not every day that a video game gives me pause. The medium we love so much has gone from inventive, constrained 8- and 16-bit titles to games that struggle to fit within a single dual-layer DVD or Blu-ray. What happened? Luckily for those of us with aversions to grandeur, the downloadable space is filling in nicely with plenty of quirky, imaginative, and genuinely fun titles. Slam Bolt Scrappers embodies this movement like no other. Fire Hose Games seemingly broke the mold with this PSN download despite borrowing a lot of small elements from other games.
The developers themselves have called Slam Bolt Scrappers a mix of Tetris, tower defense, and Super Smash Bros. Those cover the bases for gamers whose experience spans the '80s, '90s and 2000s. It might sound like a core gamer's wet dream, but Slam Bolt Scappers isn't without issues.
Whether you play campaign mode or multiplayer, the core mechanics in Slam Bolt Scrappers rarely let you put down the controller. You'll control a fighter who can punch with the X and Square buttons. Those attacks will be directed primarily at imps who spawn in the air regularly or the other players you're trying to defeat. Knocking out an imp will provide you with between one and three Tetris blocks. You can consume these blocks with the Triangle button to fill your health bar or drop them in position on your platform with Circle. More often than not you'll have to rotate the Tetris block with the L2 or R2 buttons. The L1 button controls your defensive guard and the R1 button lets you select which block to use out of those you're currently carrying.
[image2]Your first instinct may be to drop the blocks to create complete lines. 20 years of Tetris will have that effect on you. Instead, you'll want to take similarly colored blocks and build them into squares. The bigger the square, the bigger the weapon. Before your head explodes, remember that Slam Bolt Scrappers also mixes in tower defense. You'll have to build up your tower to aid in the destruction of your opponent's tower. Power-ups will occasionally give you the ability to attack the enemy's tower directly, but the real battle is between your tower and theirs.
Team battles in Slam Bolt Scrappers are the most engaging modes. Combining your efforts with another player to take on two opponents makes the chaos more manageable. In solo matches or free-for-alls, Slam Bolt Scrappers can get so hectic that you'll lose a match and have no clue how it happened. When I lost I'd often realize that I had focused too much on my opponent's tower or the imps in the air.
Campaign mode mixes in different gameplay every so often to keep things fresh and entertaining. If you're like me, you'll have a hard time getting more than one other player to sit down and enjoy Slam Bolt Scrappers. Unfortunately, without online multiplayer, lone gamers will be stuck with the campaign. Luckily, some of the best action can be found in the campaign's boss battles. Multi-tiered levels, environmental effects, and special win conditions will keep you on your toes.
Downloadable titles usually take the risks deemed too dangerous for big-budget retail titles. Slam Bolt Scrappers is packed to the brim with risks. And it's also full of rewards. Despite the chaotic nature, the infrequent failures followed by "Wait, what just happened?", and the lack of online multiplayer, you should still go spend money on Slam Bolt Scrappers right now.