Super Bomb Rush Review

Super Bomb Rush from Curvature Systems, LLC has arrived on Xbox One, but unfortunately for us here in the UK, it’s currently only released in America…for now. We will have to wait and see if this title releases on our shores but for now, check out the review below.

It’s a loud, brash affair with retro stylings and loud dance music. The game presents users with a series of bombs that need to be defused before they explode – the player does this by entering a sequence using the D-pad that has to match the one displayed on screen. Simple enough – except that the game then throws a couple of spanners into the works to keep things interesting. Red arrows require the player to enter the opposite direction on the D-pad (so if it’s pointing left, you press right). Later on, button inputs appear and you eventually also face instructions that have to be entered out of sequence.

A variety of game modes are on offer: ‘Arcade’ pits you against bombs of increasing difficulty that require more and more inputs to be performed more and more quickly, while ‘Goal Rush’ sets you the task of defusing a specific number of bombs of a specific difficulty level in a specific amount of time – each round harder than the one before it. A couple of multiplayer modes also exist – one pushing you to compete while the other has a more co-operative edge. To unlock these additional modes, you’ll first need to progress to certain levels in Arcade mode.

Successful defusing of a bomb will result in the commentator shouting excitedly about your success. The phrases “Flawless” and “Excellent” come up regularly, as do the terms “No Scope!” and “MLG!”. Yep, some of his choices of phrase didn’t make a lot of sense to me either. Failure results in detonation and a Game Over screen – and can come from failure to enter the combo in time, or by pressing one single button wrong!

SuperBombRush_Gameplay

It’s a pretty straightforward affair – but despite its apparent simplicity, the game has some fairly serious problems.

In spite of the size of the screen, the part you actually need to pay attention to as a player is tiny. Literally the only bit of the screen you’re interested in while playing the game is the panel on the left hand side of the screen – as this is where the arrows you have to mimic on the D-pad appear. It’s a shame, as the bombs are huge and colourful with a big cartoon fuse that burns down as the time to defuse them runs out, plus the game is so unforgiving that even a glance to the opposite side of the screen will result in the Game Over screen, which you’ll become very familiar with extremely quickly.

The first button inputs to appear in the panel present themselves as a red button. In Xbox language, that equates to a press of the B button. Always has, always will. Right? Wrong. Not here. The buttons that display on the left are NOT colour coded to the ones you’d need to press on the controller – and in Super Bomb Rush,  a red button equates to a press of the green A button. Later on, a yellow button will appear. You guessed it. Not Y, but B. We had to actually look at the ‘Help’ section of the game menu to figure out how this works – which just struck us as bizarre in this age of built in tutorials. That a game as apparently simple as this required us to look up how to play it says a lot about the quality of the game.

The strange UI choices do not end there, unfortunately. Even navigating menus is unusually difficult – as the B button does not function as a ‘back’ button in the way that it normally does on Xbox games. And if you play Arcade mode and then jump into Goal Rush, the game actually breaks its OWN conventions.

For example – in the main Arcade mode, as mentioned above, a red arrow indicates you push the D-pad in the opposite direction. Go into Goal Rush and select the ‘Reversal’ mode and the game presents you with the normal pink arrows… and expects you to push the D-pad in the opposite direction. Of course you won’t, and you’ll be greeted by yet another Game Over screen – and you’ll be scratching your head as to why.

Another problem is that the game doesn’t always seem to actually acknowledge inputs. Maybe it was just us, maybe we’re not as good as we thought we were – but there were occasions where a direction had been pushed on a D-pad or an A button had been pushed, and nothing happened other than the bomb detonating and us swearing at the screen. Again.

The single biggest problem though is that the game simply isn’t a lot of fun. It’s frantic and it’s noisy and it’ll keep you amused for a little while, but at no point during our time with it did we ever really feel that we were enjoying ourselves. There’s no narrative, and the action isn’t entertaining enough to make doing it its own reward. A frantic game is all well and good if the controls are tight enough to back up the pace – but in the case of Super Bomb Rush, they don’t feel as though they are.

Overall, Super Bomb Rush is an inconsistent experience. We’re sure there’s fun in here for some – but you’ll need to persevere to find it. Ultimately, the boisterous presentation style makes promises that the fiddly gameplay fails to deliver on.

Super Bomb Rush! is currently only available in the US.

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