Official Review: Slam Bolt Scrappers


Fire Hose Games and Sony Online Entertainment are proud to present to us Slam Bolt Scrappers, a new and quirky puzzle/action game that is available on PSN for you to acquire (with money) and download (with the internets) to your PS3 HDD ASAP. Here are some fine words from them about this Frankestein (in a good way) creation:

Build and brawl in this fast and frantic mash-up – exclusively on the PlayStation®Network! Race your opponents to build the most powerful towers in Slam Bolt City while defending against
deceptively adorable baddies and hugely epic bosses. Create weapons that shoot lasers, drills, missiles, and more to annihilate your adversary. Battle in four-player co-op campaign mode, or go head-to-head for more brawling and block-building awesomeness.
Game Features:
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* Build tons of devastating weapons
* Competitive multiplayer! Up to four players can join the brawl, fighting each other or computer-controlled enemies
* Cooperative campaign where up to four players work together to save the city, unlocking new weapons, levels, characters and hats along the way
* Unique gameplay combining building and brawling that is easy learn, but takes skill to master
* Tons of replayability from the many weapon options, built in challenges, multiplayer modes, and unique levels

A friend of mine described the game as Smash Bros meets Tetris, which is true to a certain degree, due to how hectic the matches can get and how the pieces you use to build your defenses ARE tetrominos, but, in the end, this new IP has a style, and overall “feeling,” that makes it feel fresh and separates it from the usual onslaught of puzzle games available on all digital games services.

Your building blocks (that is, blocks you use to build things. Sorry, had to check if you got that right) are obtained by defeating the enemies (but not your opponents) that fly around each level every now and then. You can use your two main attack buttons to mix things up and unleash a combo here and there to turn the tide of battle as you decimate the flying vermin population.

The blocks are color coded for ease of use and, depending on what color you pick up, you’ll be able to build a certain type of weapon or defense system to allow you to continue in your adventure in a far away kingdom… What, no full-on fantasy setting? My bad! Minimum number of little blocks needed for a weapon to activate is a four by four structure, and you go up to 5×5, 6,x and so on. Squares are sooo in right now!

What are these weapons I speak of? Glad you asked! Here they are, in all their spoiler-tagged glory (big shout out to Fire Hose Games for providing us with all this info):

[spoiler intro="Slam Bolt Scrappers" title="These are your Weapons. Use them wisely!"]

Red Missile Blocks

* Attack baddies, opponents, and blocks (sometimes all at once!)
* Fire a spread shot that targets multiple things
* Follow their targets with bleeding edge military grade homing technology

There’s something to be said about raining down destruction on someone with a huge barrage of missiles. Causing explosions all over your opponent’s tower is bound to strike fear into even the most seasoned scrappers. While a 2×2 (two blocks high, two blocks wide) can do some damage with a single missile, missile launchers 3×3 and bigger fire a spread shot of multiple missiles that can home in on different targets. And unlike most other weapons in SBS, this isn’t limited to the enemy’s tower – missile can hit flying baddies as well (with a tendency to attack anything flying over your tower). Since these missiles generally seek out multiple targets, they spread out their damage instead of doing a focused attack – good in some situations, but detrimental in others.

Purple Laser Blocks

* Only attack the enemy’s tower
* Do focused damage to a single weapon or block
* Great for attacking a single powerful weapon in your enemy’s tower

Instead of wasting time damaging flying baddies and the other players, like missiles, they focus all their energy on a single weapon on in your enemy’s tower. Since weapons in SBS generally attack other weapons that are the same size or larger, laser guns will almost always focus their attack on your opponent’s most important weapons.

Blue Shield Blocks

* Protect adjacent weapons from enemy attacks
* Glow blue to show when they are active
* Cause adjacent weapons to glow blue when they’re protected

Blue shield blocks are crucial to really dominating a match of Slam Bolt Scrappers. Their placement should be a part of your strategy from the very beginning, so you can continue to expand your fortified base in an effective manner. Since shield blocks protect any weapons that are touching them, it’s generally best to make the center of your tower a stack of shields – that way, they can protect the weapons you build on both sides of them. Their protective blue glow doesn’t last forever, though – after taking enough damage, they temporarily deactivate so that they can recharge, leaving your previously shielded weapons open to damaging attacks.

Black Cannon Blocks

* Converts collected blocks into a deadly attack.
* Deals MASSIVE splash damage to your opponents tower.
* Does NOT fire automatically. Needs to be loaded in order to fire.

The black cannon is unique in Slam Bolt Scrappers. Unlike all other weapons, the black cannon must be manually loaded and fired for each shot. Instead of using their blocks to build more weapons, players fly into the green arrow on each empty cannon and press the circle button to load their block into the cannon. The cannon then finds a target and fires a flaming block, causing massive damage to whatever it hits along with splash damage effecting other nearby blocks.

Green Drill Blocks

* Deals tons of damage to your opponents tower over time
* After destroying blocks will keep on drilling down the tower until it runs out of steam or is punched off
* Nothing intimidates an opponent more than seeing (and hearing) their tower covered in drills!

There’s one sound that strikes fear in the heart of any scrapper more than any other. That sound is the whirr of the green drill as it carves its way through their tower. The drill is a mighty offensive weapon that when left to its own devices will deal more damage than any other block type. The turret shoots out a wind-up drill that will keep chipping away at the opponents tower until it runs out of juice. However, scrappers can find hope in the fact that while these drills do deadly damage to the tower, they are not built to withstand being pummeled by fists. But if you’re gonna punch them off your tower, you better be quick, since the turret’s always got another batch ready to wreak some more havoc.

Orange Ping Pong Blocks

* Stop some attacks from hitting your tower
* Reflect these attacks right back at your enemy’s blocks
* Make lasers bounce back and forth across the screen in an awesomely psychedelic light show that makes Pink Floyd jealous

The basic defensive options in Slam Bolt Scrappers come down to the blue shield blocks and the awesomely powerful, rocket powered orange ping pong paddles you see above. Instead of fortifying your tower, orange ping pong blocks have the unique ability to reflect incoming attacks from your opponent’s weapons. So, not only do they prevent your tower from getting hurt, but they deal that damage right back at your enemy. Missiles flying at your tower? Just knock ‘em back with ping pong paddles. Lasers shooting towards your blocks? Your ping pong paddles got it covered. Their awesome combination of offensive and defensive qualities make ping pong blocks a crucial part of any scrapping strategy. Not to mention that it looks really cool to see a bunch of missiles stopped mid air by a hoard of flying ping pong paddles!

Teal Lightning Blocks

* Sends bolts of lightning at baddies, opponents, and blocks
* Has a chance of disabling the weapons they hit for a short time
* Larger blocks can fire multiple bolts

The Teal Lightning weapon strikes fear in the hearts of your opponents. It fires giant bolts of electricity that can destroy your opponents tower or protect your tower from enemies wandering a bit too close to your tower. However, the lightning’s true strength lies with its devastating ability to disable weapons that it hits. On any given strike there’s a chance that the shock will take their turret out of the fight for long enough for you to try to pull ahead. What’s worse is that larger blocks fire multiple bolts out, potentially incapacitating multiple weapons in one fell swoop![/spoiler]

There are also some transparent blocks available for you at all times, and picking them up helps you change your weapon structuring theorems since any block under the drop shadow of said see-through marvels are taken out of place, allowing you to either place them elsewhere and hope for the best or just get rid of them altogether to be absorbed into an invisible black hole that transports them into an everlasting vortex of self-aware existence under the oppressive rule of the all-seeing-eye. Well, that’s how I picture it in my head, since they just go “poof” and disappear.

You’ve got two choices after loading up the game: Campaign or Battle. First one is the single player experience and the other is a Multiplayer-only endeavor. In single player, you have to go from level to level, defeating the resident protector of truth, justice… wait, that’s not right. OK, you go to a level, build weapons and defenses, kick some ass and live to battle another day. Yep, that’s more like it. How do you choose a level in adventure mode? Why, by flying to it on a small, but spinning, 1/3 of a globe miniature, of course!

You can change the difficulty to better suit your skills (or lack thereof). Two trophies are tied to you beating levels/multiplayer battles at a certain difficulty setting, so you have to take that into consideration during your time with Slam Bolt Scrappers, especially if you’re like me and can’t get ever feel like you’ve got enough trophies for your profile.

Some levels have special “extras” that keep you on your toes and tosses another ball to juggle while playing. In one level, you have to manage two building spaces at the same time, having only one building space while your opponent has two, realizing that your two building areas are connected to a pulley system that requires you to keep both sides balanced; unless you’d like one of them to go under the flames of justice, etc.

I would have liked it if each character had a special attack gauge that filled up as you killed your enemies/opponents, or built structures so there was actually a reason for having different characters instead of getting stuck with a “just a different color” single robot/human model. Then again, that’s what sequels are for… so I hope you’re listening Fire Hose Games!

Final info about Slam Bolt Scrappers’ available Campaign mode: you get to battle against big, lackey commanding bosses! You must work hard to find their weak point, and then attack it for massive damage fun! These levels are a great change of pace from the rest of the campaign, and it would have been nice if an extra boss or two would have popped up for my entertainment but… well, see the paragraph just above this one!

As for the other mode available, Battle mode is a local-only Multiplayer mode. Up to four human players can participate at one to wreak havoc in a free for all war, or maybe go with a more civilized “Team vs Team” fighting system (any others not included in said four will have to assume cheerleader duties). In case you don’t have three more blood and bone vessels around, you can choose to include bots (A.I. controlled opponents) to fill empty spots and choose how difficult they will be. Very easy makes them plain stupid and it goes up from there all the way to “please, please, just kill me and end my suffering!”.

The Campaign mode can be finished in about two hours if played on the casual difficulty, but this is mainly so you can get used to the controls, weapons and combos available for you, as well as to start figuring out strategies too; like, totally own and demolish the diverse flying thingies all around you.

Review

ProsCons
Innovative Ideas
Great Local Multiplayer Experience
No online multiplayer
Characters don't have unique skills to go along with their unique looks
Rating
85%

Published by Sony Online Entertainment
Developed by Fire Hose Games

Cost – $14.99

Available on PSN

Disclaimer

- Obtained almost all trophies (wait, finish all campaign levels on expert difficulty… seriously?).
- Total amount of time played: 12 hours.
- This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of Slam Bolt Scrappers provided by Fire Hose Games.


Written by: EdEN - Owner / PR / Editor-In-Chief


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  1. #1 by Eddie on March 28th, 2011 [ 44542 Points ]

    looks awesome Eden. I’m loving the layout. Great read too.

  2. #2 by premiersoupir on March 28th, 2011 [ 17020 Points ]

    sounds like an interesting, frenetic game. thanks for the great review, @EdEN!

  3. #3 by EdEN on March 28th, 2011 [ 139841 Points ]

    @Eddie: Trying something new (thanks Jay!) to see what the response is.

    @premiersoupir: Thank you for reading!

    Now I hope we can drive up the hype on this game so we can eventually get a sequel next year.

  4. #4 by Oly on March 28th, 2011 [ 132150 Points ]

    Great review as usual Eden.. they add online-multiplayer to this and I’ll def pick it up.

  5. #5 by hobbes on March 28th, 2011 [ 30476 Points ]

    will wait till it goes on sale.

  6. #6 by EdEN on March 28th, 2011 [ 139841 Points ]

    Maybe if you buy it they’ll add online MP? See, catch 22!

  7. #7 by Markus on March 28th, 2011 [ 4322 Points ]

    Nice write up, for realsies

  8. #8 by Kane112 on March 29th, 2011 [ 34187 Points ]

    great review. A shame the game doesnt have online mulitplayer would make it so much better

  9. #9 by Luke on March 29th, 2011 [ 27382 Points ]

    @Kane112 Don’t get Eitan of Fire Hose Games started about the mulitplayer.

  10. #10 by Kane112 on March 29th, 2011 [ 34187 Points ]

    @Luke haha aye whys that

  11. #11 by pedro on March 29th, 2011 [ 39949 Points ]

    Nice review/small tutorial for the game Eden.

    I didn’t know there was more to this game.

    However, even with the good reviews and apparently fun everyones seems to be having, I can’t get excited about this title.

  12. #12 by Luke on March 29th, 2011 [ 27382 Points ]

    @Kane112 When I went to their office, he was busy finishing up straightening out some people like you on the Kotaku website. Funniest thing ever!

  13. #13 by EdEN on March 29th, 2011 [ 139841 Points ]

    @Luke: DO tell about said episode! Did he get mad and started flinging poo everywhere?

    It WOULD be nice of them to add MP either as a patch or as a paid DLC. Would pay $2 for online MP.

  14. #14 by XMBeaner on March 29th, 2011

    Where is the unofficial review? That’s the one I want to read.

  15. #15 by Kane112 on March 29th, 2011 [ 34187 Points ]

    @Luke haha bet that was a funny sight. Well im holding off for now then hopefully they will bring out an online patch

  16. #16 by hobbes on March 30th, 2011 [ 30476 Points ]

    is this just 2 players? i’m loving tetris with 4 players… and moon driver is interesting, not sure what i think of it, controls are a bit “floaty”

  17. #17 by Jay on March 30th, 2011 [ 83111 Points ]

    I believe this game has 4 players

  18. #18 by EdEN on March 30th, 2011 [ 139841 Points ]

    It’s for up to 4 players. In case there’s only 2-3 human players, you can set the other 1-2 to be controlled by the computer. You could even decide to play by yourself against 3 computer controlled enemies for a challenge!


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