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Review: Bomb Monkey
Developer: Renegade Kid
Publisher: Renegade Kid/Nintendo
Release Date: Out Now
Platform: 3DS eShop
ESRB: E for Everyone
Everyone loves monkeys, right? But give one a bomb and you may get some rather explosive results (pardon the pun). You'd also get Renegade Kid's latest game, a new eShop puzzler appropriately called Bomb Monkey. Luckily, the titular character is not destructive for mischevious reasons; rather, he's a participant in an in-game sport called Blok Bombing. The goal of the game is rather simple - toss bombs at blocks that rise up from the bottom of the jungle floor (or bottom of the screen in our case) in an attempt to destroy them, all the while making sure that they don't rise high enough to knock you off of your perch. But is this your typical falling blocks puzzle game, or is there more to it than meets the eye?
In what might be a first for an eShop game, Bomb Monkey requires the game to be played by holding the 3DS in a "book style" format (90 degrees to the left from how it's usually held). Ultimately, it's a smart design decision that allows the gameplay to flow much better as you'll soon hear about. As for the game's controls, you're given three different input methods to choose from: the d-pad, circle pad, or touch controls with the stylus. There are only three main actions in-game: moving left, moving right, and dropping bombs (left, right, and down, respectively). It's nice that all three control inputs can be used to control the game, but I found the touch controls to be the most effective, though the D-pad works fine as well.
Six different gameplay modes await you when the game starts up, and they are: Endless, 2P Versus, 2P Co-op, Rescue, 3 Minutes, and Numbers. Endless is what you could consider the main mode in the game, and it consists of Bomb Monkey's core gameplay and mechanics - to match colored blocks together and detonate them with bombs in order to clear them away. There is no end goal (except in some other modes) - only bragging rights for getting the highest score.
Where Bomb Monkey really begins to shine, however, is its added layers of complexity when compared to the usual falling block puzzle formula. As the game progresses in its difficulty, you'll need to deal with more and more locked blocks that take two blasts to clear. And where the fun really kicks in is when you can set up special blocks that increases the bomb blast's radius to clear a whole row either vertically or horizontally (depending on the type you get).
At this point, you'll begin to start setting up elaborate ways of clearing the blocks in order to maximize the points you get from the detonation when all is said and done. In fact, the right chain reaction could potentially clear the whole screen - if you're savvy enough. There are also special letters that are scattered through the blocks as they rise up from the floor, and by bombing them and progressively spelling out "B-O-M-B," you'll trigger a short power-up mode in which the Bomb Monkey will toss nothing but bombs for a few seconds. It adds a fun little twist to the game and is especially useful in the higher levels where the blocks move punishingly fast.
The 2 player modes are wonderful additions that allow you to play with a friend using the same 3DS; the execution of which was mind-blowing to me when I tried it for the first time. Each player uses one screen of the 3DS and opposite ends of the handheld to control their respective character, with Player 1 using the circle pad/D-pad and Player 2 using the A, B, and X buttons. It's definitely a great inclusion, and makes me wonder why more 3DS games haven't implemented this sort of simple functionality in other games as well.
Another mode is "Rescue," and it's easily one of my favorite modes. The objective is simple - break out your monkey friend out of a cage that is laying among all of the other blocks. However, it'll takes 50 direct explosions to destroy the cage, so in addition to working to free your friend, you'll also need to keep an eye on the overall circumstance of where the rest of the blocks are. Pay too little attention to the rising blocks and you'll pay the consequences by being knocked off your perch (and having to restart). It's a nice little game that definitely infuses a bit more strategy into the gameplay, and you'll need to divide your attention equally if you hope to conquer it.
The 3 minute mode is exactly like the Endless mode but contained with a 3 minute time limit. It's perfect for controlled sessions where you don't have much time but also want to see how much of a score you can squeeze out in that time period. And finally, Numbers is another of my favorites - the objective being to clear numbers marked 1, 2, and 3 among the blocks, but in order. If you accidentally clear one out of order, it's game over. It makes for some truly interesting gameplay, especially in the later levels when the number you need to get to is buried in such a way that you'll have to avoid bombing the other two while getting to it, or they might all be right next to each other.
The design of the game is simple, yet it works. There's something entirely whimsical about the Bomb Monkey character himself, and thus he ends up being likeable. In Endless Mode, the left screen displays a bigger version of the Bomb Monkey, and I can't help but smile when I see him bouncing back and forth and smiling; there's definitely some great sprite work here that pixel enthusiasts will especially appreciate.
Last but not least, there's only one main music track in the game (aside from the menu music) but it's quite catchy and faintly reminiscent of Renegade Kid's last eShop game, Mutant Mudds. Everything considered, Bomb Monkey represents a simple game at its best. It doesn't beat you over the head with lots of unnecessary exposition or clutter; everything is to the point and simple enough for anybody to understand. That said, those looking for a challenge will still certainly find it here in the way of setting high scores (which Renegade Kid keeps track of on their site if you send in photographic evidence).
Anyone looking for a great little puzzle game would do well to download Bomb Monkey; its different modes will keep you busy and addicted while you attempt to keep beating your (or your friend's) high scores. Simply put, Bomb Monkey is a blast.
+ Addictive puzzle gameplay
+ Catchy music
+ Multiple game modes to play through
- If you dont like puzzles or aiming for high scores, this may not be for you
Overall Score: 8 (out of 10)
Bomb Monkey is a quintessential game to own on 3DS for puzzle fans and will no doubt become the new go-to title for when you want to play a quick game.
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