Fire Hose Games—the creators behind tower defense game Go Home Dinosaurs— released Slam Bolt Scrappers on Steam last week. Slam Bolt Scrappers features many mechanics from different types of games creating a unique blend of gameplay that consists of tower building, beat ‘em up, and tile-matching. When you have so many elements coinciding with one another, the biggest question would have to be: “Does it all work together?”
Slam Bolt Scrappers has two main game modes: Campaign and Battle. Campaign may be played cooperatively with up to three other players, during which players traverse a neat spherical map to choose stages. Battle is a custom game mode where a stage and block types, otherwise known as weapons, are chosen to either be activated or deactivated. Bots may be set to fill in empty slots and have five difficulty settings. There are eight playable characters—four unlocked from the start—which have different outfit colors and collectible hats, something I’m sure Team Fortress 2 fans can appreciate.
The main goal of the game is to build destructive chunks of like-colored blocks against an opponent’s tower by matching tiles. The twist on the genre is that, rather than having blocks drop from above, players control a flying character who will drop puzzle pieces down. Players can also hit and perform combos against baddies who, once killed, drop tiles. Occasionally during a match, a flying ninja may appear which drops certain power-ups. These power-ups range from a super shield to a mass repair that fixes all damaged tiles. This all may sound simple, but the player is also open to attack from the enemy. A blocking mechanic mitigates damage taken while discarding tiles helps recover lost health points. If either of the flying characters dies they drop any tiles they were holding and must wait a few seconds before respawning, providing valuable time.
As tiles are matched, fully formed squares transform into weapons; these either fire projectiles such as laser beams and rockets or generate shields for surrounding weapons. Didn’t like where a certain tile was placed? Transparent tiles for the sole purpose of picking up and moving other tiles are always available on the sidelines. As the tower is built, the weapons will fire at the opposing enemy’s tower in an attempt to destroy it. The game is won once all of the enemy’s tiles are destroyed. So not only does the player have to worry about matching tiles to create weapons, they have to continuously gather tiles from baddies that deal damage to the player and tiles while also defending against the opposing player themselves. I’m not opposed to having to perform many actions during gameplay, but it all plays out in a manner that feels downright tedious.
When I won, I felt like I was supposed to get some kind of satisfaction from just having completely annihilated my opponent. Unfortunately, however, I didn’t I enjoy competition and was hoping multiplayer would rekindle my competitive spirit. Multiplayer actually worked out fine and gave me a bit of enjoyment for defeating an actual intelligent human being as opposed to a bot, as with any multiplayer game. Although, there are too many things on the screen to tend to all at once for me to have gotten a sense of gratification from anything that was happening. There were so many things happening at once that I couldn’t appreciate anything individually.
Boss battles had some semblance of excitement. Bosses had their assortment of weaknesses that had to be addressed before doing any damage with weapons. One boss had a sphere in their chest that needed to be hit, and another needed to be knocked off of a flying cloud. Their stages varied to create different types of challenges. The cloud boss’s stage features a building with spaces in it that allows the placement of tiles. However, at certain moments during the fight, the camera will pan up or down making the player have to strategically place tiles to get the most out of them. Music during boss battles and throughout the entire game generally felt uninspired and would, at times, become repetitive.
Slam Bolt Scrappers has massive potential and offers an interesting amalgamation of gameplay mechanics. However, there’s room for improvement. It’s apparent it was designed to be played as a party game with friends, but as a single player experience, it’s just not worth the time and effort.
Available on: PC; Publisher: Fire Hose Games; Developer: Fire Hose Games; Players: 1 – 4; Released: March 14, 2013; ESRB: Everyone; MSRP: $9.99: Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.