Take a concoction that’s two parts Bomberman, one part Wild West, and lace it with some thick rougelike elements. The result? Bombslinger, a game that’s equal parts addictive and explosively maddening.
On the one hand, developer Mode4’s Bombslinger wholeheartedly and almost blatantly borrows the formula of the Bomberman games. At the same time, the game offers its own twist; injecting grueling roguelike mechanics and a raunchy western theme. These elements seem subtle, but nonetheless help breathe new life into the basic top-down gameplay prominent in Bomberman.
Like the aforementioned classic series, Bombslinger offers its own competitive 4 player local multiplayer mode. It doesn’t exactly come with all the bells and whistles of your typical Bomberman game. Yet, it still proves to be chock full of chaotic fun and intensity. You’re given the option to play against CPUs, though squaring off against friends naturally proves more entertaining.
A plethora of power-ups, weapons, and more effective bombs are at your disposal as you blast your way around a variety of environments and grid layouts. From there it becomes a mad scramble of dropping bombs, dodging explosions, and snagging items. Simultaneously you must trap and catch your rivals off guard utilizing your arsenal of bombs, explosive barrels, and other items you’ve managed to snag amidst the carnage.
Athough Bombslinger’s multiplayer takes the spotlight, surprisingly, the single player Adventure Mode is no slouch either. While it doesn’t quite reach the level of excitement found in the multiplayer battles, it provides its share of fun in its own unique way; in part by putting you through the ringer with some grinding, tough-as-nails roguelike gameplay. It took some time to grow on me, but once it did, the levels of addiction and enjoyment soared to great heights.
You play as a former Bombslinger turned rancher on a vendetta. To your utter horror and anger, one day you find your ranch set ablaze and your wife murdered by a ruthless crew of bandits. Thus begins a quest of vengeance, as you set out to punish the perpetrators, along with all who stand in your way. These include shirtless hillbillies wielding pitchforks, shotgun-toting cowboys, and even maniacal stampeding goats.
Bombslinger clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously with its off-the-wall themes and its almost comical tone, despite its gritty and violent nature. This goofy vibe throughout made the experience all the more amusing and provided me with plenty of yuks. Though there was also no shortage of frustration and controller slamming to be had with the multitude of hazards.
A Ruthless Romp
Even for those who have played Bomberman before, Bombslinger is awfully difficult to penetrate at first. Had I not been obligated to power through and eventually hit that breakthrough, I may have set this one aside prematurely. Ultimately I’m glad I kept going, but it’s easy to see many give up on this one too soon. This is a shame because there is a deceptively healthy amount of depth and enjoyment beneath the tough surface.
When you begin your journey you’re quite vulnerable, as you’re granted only a few hits, limited bomb power, and movement that’s slow and clunky to say the least. You’re given but one additional supplement from a choice of three buffs. These include a spirit-enhancing perfume – essentially the equivalent of mana which is used for items and abilities – and your wife’s locket, which grants you one revive upon dying. The game all but sends you out to be slaughtered on the very first boss – if not well beforehand – until you’ve mastered some janky mechanics and have obtained at least a few unlockable enhancements.
These items include keys that can open chests, an ammo bag that drives up your bomb count and firepower, and boots that make you quicker. Over time, they can turn you into quite the bombslinging beast when enough have been accumulated. Unfortunately, this takes a great deal of playthroughs, as most are unlocked by notching various achievements throughout. In typical roguelike fashion, you have no other means of permanent progression.
Dying wipes any weapons, potions, and boosts obtained from leveling up. Thus, it’s crucial to unlock permanent items if you want to make a dent in the 4 grueling stages. Each screen’s layout and foes are partially randomized, which helps keep things fresh, but also makes it tough to plan your attack.
Gritty but Pretty
Bombslinger certainly provides the feeling of retro grittiness, not just from its relentless gameplay, but its aesthetics as well. The art style uses pseudo-8 bit pixel art with some blocky 3D models integrated. The subtle shifts to 3D add a unique twist and makes the visuals “pop”.
The game’s soundtrack is very Spaghetti Western; harmonicas and blues guitar melodies laced with some heavier crunching rock riffs to intensify the mood. It fits both the atmosphere and the action-oriented gameplay.
- Fun and action-packed multiplayer mode with up to 4 players
- Enjoyable Adventure Mode with roguelike elements that provide depth
- A multitude of items, weapons, and abilities to play around with keeps things exciting
- Neat retro aesthetic and amusing wild West themes
- Only 4 major environments in the campaign
- Movement can be janky, stiff, and unreliable, especially when attempting to play with a joystick
- Insane difficulty in the early-goings may be off-putting to some
Bombslinger is a fine example of taking a formula that works and adding a signature twist to increase its impact. Sure, the gameplay doesn’t reach mind-blowing status, the difficulty is tough to overcome, and movement can be touchy at times. Yet, the game provides a fun new take on Bomberman, and offers plenty of depth for those willing to take their lumps.