As promised, here's my review of Bomb Monkey for launch day! You guys read up on that, which will hopefully have you ready to drop some cash on the game later today! See you guys in a few, short hours.
Happy Bomb Monkey day, everyone! Renegade Kid's latest eShop title will be available in North America in just a few hours. Last time we enjoyed a Renegade Kid title on the eShop, it was the platforming throwback Mutant Mudds. This time around Renegade Kid tackles the puzzle genre with Bomb Monkey. I think we all saw this game as the next logical step. Everyone knows you follow up water-fueled platforming with monkey-bombing madness!
The key to any good puzzle game falls in with the 'easy to learn, hard to master' mantra. Just take a look at Tetris. Everyone understands how to play Tetris after giving the game a go for a few minutes. You move around blocks and clear lines...that's about it. Bomb Monkey makes sure to waste no time in getting gamers into the meat-and-potatoes of the experience. It's not a tough game to explain, but it's one you'll really need to hone your skills with in order to stay alive.
In Bomb Monkey you take on the role of a...monkey that bombs things. Don't go looking for any story, because there isn't one! It's not like a puzzle game needs story anyway. This monkey loves bombs. That's motivation enough for me! Anyway, you'll move this monkey back-and-forth at the top of a puzzle trough, throwing down different colored blocks, as well as bombs. It's your job to connect like-colored blocks and bomb them away. Keep the colored block tower from slowly rising above the 'kill' line and you're good! You can do this with either Dpad or stylus control, the choice is yours.
That's the basic mechanics of the game, but of course, staying alive isn't that simple. First thing, you never know when a bomb is going to show up. You're at the mercy of the game with this. The only way to clear colored blocks is with a bomb, so you'll have to patiently stack similar colored blocks while you wait for that bomb to show up. Once it does, toss it down on a color grouping to eliminate those blocks. You'll get one of two bomb types, with each type having a certain amount of reach when it explodes in a cross pattern.
Every so often, locked color blocks will appear in the Bomb Monkey's hands. These blocks are matched with similar colored blocks as well, but they take a bit more hard work to eliminate. You'll have to hit a locked block with two bombs in order to get it out of the trough. The first bomb will unlock it, then the second bomb will blow it up. You have to keep these locked blocks in mind when placing them, as they'll kill off any like-colored combination you've built up. In other words, try to bomb your like-colored blocks at the opposite end of where you placed your lock block in order to keep that block-bombing combo alive!
Thankfully, there are some blocks that help you out rather than making life tougher. Your Bomb Monkey will also throw down red blocks that have direction arrows on them. These blocks will unleash a massive explosion in the direction that the arrows are pointing. Left/right arrows create an explosion that takes out an entire row while top/bottom arrows will blow up whatever column they're in. Using these blocks to create combos is absolutely crucial to staying alive. You can have one arrow block blow up another, which sets that arrow block into action, which can also create yet another combo.
Finally, if things get really down to the wire, you can hope that you've collected all four 'BOMB' letters. If you manage to spell out the word 'BOMB' by blowing up letters that appear on the board, you'll go into a Bomb Monkey frenzy. For a number of seconds, the only thing your Monkey will throw down is bombs. If you luck out and hit this 'BOMB' bonus at the right time, you can manage to take a game that's nearly over and turn it into a completely clear board!
Now that you know how the game plays, just how will you be experiencing Bomb Monkey's fun? Well, there are 6 different types of play available to you. Some of them are self-explanatory. I think we all know how Endless, 2P Versus and 2P Co-op work. The more unique modes are Rescue, 3 Minutes and Numbers.
Rescue mode drops a caged monkey into the puzzle trough. It's your job to not only keep the trough from filling up with blocks past the kill line, but you also need to bomb your monkey friend out of his cage. The cage takes a certain number of bombs to explode and the game isn't over until you unlock your monkey friend out of his prison. The game keeps track of your score, time and level to see just how well you managed in busting your friend out.
3 Minute mode works out as you might expect it to. This mode aims to make you the best Bomb Monkey you can be. You get 3 short minutes to rack up the highest score you possibly can. No special rules or settings...it's the same mechanics as endless mode, but with the added pressure of the time limit. See what you can pull off before the final bell tolls!
Lastly is Numbers mode, which is the most varied of all the modes. In Numbers, you'll have to blow up the numbers 1, 2 and 3. The thing is, you have to blow them up in their correct order. All you have to do is bomb them to blow them up, but you have to make sure you do so in the correct counting order. If you blow up the 1 and 2 numbers at the same time, or 2 and 3 at the same time, it's game over. Keep an eye on your combos in order to know what you're blowing up when!
While 2P Versus and Co-Op are self-explanatory, the way they are played really makes them much more enjoyable. Instead of having you play wirelessly via another friend on their 3DS, this mode has two players using the same 3DS. You sit opposite each other and use either the Dpad or face buttons to control your Bomb Monkey. Depending on what mode you're playing, you're either clearing blocks to send 'garbage' over to your opponent to kill them, or you're working together to see how long you can last.
The fact that you're sitting just a few inches away from your opponent while you play is what makes these modes so much fun. It's absolutely intense sitting face-to-face with your opponent or companion. With both of you holding the same 3DS, you feel a sense of connection through the multiplayer that you really don't get anywhere else. It may seem like a strange choice to go with multiplayer the puts you on the same system, but it's an absolutely fantastic idea. Trust me, you have to give these modes a go for yourself. It's hard to find multiplayer this frantic and engaging in any other 3DS title out there.
What complaints do I have about Bomb Monkey? I guess the biggest issue I have is that the game doesn't feature an online leaderboard. This is such a strange complaint coming from me, as I hardly ever look for online features in a game. With that said, an online leaderboard seems like it would have been a great inclusion for Bomb Monkey. With all these modes focused on high scores and levels, online leaderboards would have been a great way to keep you motivated and keep pushing forward.
I know that others are going to complain about the lack of online multiplayer in Bomb Monkey, but I personally don't find that to be an issue. I honestly think the local multiplayer really is a fantastic experience, which makes me very glad to see that it was chosen over online play. Yes, it may be hard to get some people together to enjoy this unique multiplayer experience, but I promise that hunting down friends/family to give it a go will be worth the trouble.
All in all, Bomb Monkey succeeds in creating a puzzle experience that is both familiar and unique at the same time. It puts together that special recipe that certain puzzle games have. You'll play for 5 minutes and become hooked right away. You'll definitely find yourself coming back whenever you have a few spare moments. Just one more round...just one more chance at beating your high score. I honestly cannot put the game down. Bomb Monkey takes me back to the days of Tetris Attack, another puzzle game that sucked me in for years and years. Looks like I found my new puzzle addiction.
If you're not one to carry around your 3DS with you, Bomb Monkey could very well change that. Having this puzzle game in your pocket will definitely help the time pass when you're out and about. Just be ready to sit down and play for a few minutes, then see a few hours pass by in a blink.