The puzzle genre is slowly dying in this current generation of immersive
action, adventure, RPG or sports titles. It seems like nowadays the only real puzzle
games we see are ones we've seen in the past, such as Tetris Worlds and Puyo Pop.
It's tough to find an original puzzle game these days, let alone one that's addictive
or fun. The closest game that has fit that description in recent times is Amplitude,
but that really blurs the line between music/rythm games and puzzle games. But
here comes Bombastic, a title slipped through into the PS2 lineup thanks to Capcom.
Is this the game to cure all your puzzle ailments?
Bombastic's concept/gameplay is really not that new, but by judging how well
this game has sold in this country in the past (in the form of Devil Dice on the PS1),
this might as well be new to you. Bombastic is an interesting yet somewhat difficult
game to grasp. Everything is not as easy as dropping pieces to clear lines, objects
or what-not. You pretty much have to take control of one die with six sides numbered
from 1-6 (like a traditional die), and match that number with adjacent dice on the
board. But, the number you intend to match has to have that amount to match. Did I
lose you? Okay, in simpler terms, if you wish to clear "4's", you need to match 4 adjacent
dice with "4" on it. If you want to clear the 6's, you need to match 6 adjacent "6's".
When these dice match, they start to glow a red color, an depending on the number,
it may take a shorter or longer time for these dice to explode. When they do, GET
OUT OF THE WAY! You could blow yourself up and end the game. But, when the dice do
exlode, any dice around the glowing ones that are LESS than the number (or equal)
that you matched will be included in the chain. It sounds complicated, and it
kind of is, which is why you should go through the tutorial.
Like I've mentioned earlier, Bombastic is not an easy game. Unless you're
familiar with the game series already, or can really think on your feet, this
may not be the puzzle game for you. Sure, you can go around the board hoping to
match some dice together (and at times, it's not a bad of strategy), and create
a chain reaction to build your score. But that's almost the equivalent of button-mashing
in a fighting game. Sure, you'll land some hits, but you might be missing out on
the skills the developers intended you to use in the game. At least in Bombastic,
it's not apparent that you suck. You won't really lose a match that easy, especially
in the trial mode. Unless you end up blowing yourself up, you could keep yourself in
a typical trial game for 15 minutes or more. But if you plan on scoring big, you
really need to learn the basics and use your brain.
Bombastic comes with several modes of play, some of which may need to be unlocked.
Off the bat, you have the Trial mode, Story mode, Battle Mode, and a tutorial.
Along the way, you can also unlock different gameplay modes, such as the classic
mode and the advanced mode (both of which were only Japanese versions of the game).
The extra modes to add some variety to the gameplay, but are more difficult to
rack up big points compared to the standard Bombastic mode. As for the Story mode,
there is no real story. You pretty much follow this one person through a variety
of stages. But the gameplay design is a bit different here. You actually have to navigate
through platform-like stages using the techniques you've learned. It's an interesting
twist to keep the gameplay fresh. As for the battle mode, 1-5 people can play against each
other on one board. Why 5 people is beyond me. But the real meat of the game is
within the trial mode, which is your equivalent to an arcade mode, and you can partake
in an endless match or a timed match. There, you go for score, and nothing less.
Which is what you pretty much do in a puzzle game.
The visuals are pretty plain. Most of the graphical variety in the game can be
found within the story mode, and even that's not a whole lot of detail. But the
game does look sharp and clean, and is absent of the typical aliasing that hurts
many PS2 games. I do have to complain about the perspective, though. Sure, it's
isometric, and for the most part, everything is visible, but there's no way to see the opposite side of the
board by turning a camera around. It would be nice to have that option.
The sound consists of your typical techno. It's not offensive, but it's
not earth-shaking. The explosion sounds from the dice are pretty well done.
Character voices are a little too cutesy and annoying.
Bombastic is not for everyone. Unless you are a die-hard puzzle fan,
or are good with logical puzzles, you probably won't think much of this game.
It's also kind of hard to get into, as even though you do clear dice off of
the board, you just don't score a hell of a lot of points. Unless you know
how to play the game. I also found the use of these oddly cute characters in the
game uneccessary. It kind of robs the explosive nature of this game. So my bottom
line is, that while this is a different puzzle game with quite a bit of variety,
there's going to be a select few who will "get" the gameplay and get the most
of what this has to offer.