Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy (Wii) Review

Folks, we have reached the apocalypse. The U.S. economy is in a horrible condition, and now? Now, my Blast Works review has finally been posted! Excuse me now. I'm going to set off these fireworks I've been saving for this occasion. Have a great night, all, and see you tomorrow!


Think It. Dream It. Build It.

Oh, how I long to insert quarters into an arcade machine just to test my lack of mettle in Defender or some other game of its kin! The shoot-em-up genre (or shmup for short) hasn't seen much action within the past two console cycles. In fact, they've been mostly relegated to the handhelds. That hasn't stopped developer Budcat Creations from developing a Wii-exclusive installment of the genre. Enter Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy-- a game which tips its metaphorical hat to Kenta Cho's Tuniki Fighters. Is Blast Works a title that Wii owners will want to build and trade with, or is it one that they'd want to more than likely destroy?

Each level ends with a boss battle with multiple parts to wear down.

There's really not much to the main modes-- the Arcade and Campaign modes of Blast Works. The campaign mode throws you directly into aerial battle with no story or nonsense like that. It is split up within five parts each with three levels. Each level (some tend to drag on a bit more than others) culminates with a cleverly-designed boss. It's your standard side-scrolling arcade shooting fare where you dodge enemy fire whilst retaliating with shots of your own. Given the premise, you'd think it was just some plain old shooter you've seen before-- maybe even less interesting, and you'd be right. However, the savior of the gameplay is that fact that when an enemy is incapacitated, your ship can fly into them and they'll become part of your vessel until you die, or the piece is shot off. Pretty much every enemy and the sum of their parts can be caught by your ship. Furthermore, if the ship had a cannon that intermittently fired off a round, the cannon would still be active to give you a greater offense. There's two catches to this: 1) As stated before, the pieces can easily come off whether an opposing force runs into them to knock them off or does enough damage to them, and 2) The pieces that attach to your ship stay on as is. This means your ship doesn't transform itself into a larger being as it accumulates items-- the parts merely stick to the ship however you caught them, so timing is crucial. You wouldn't want to catch an enemy with a flamethrower on the back of your ship since all of the enemy's armada attack from the right.

Enemies will take a moderate amount of fire in order to be destroyed. However, that isn't the case with your ship. For you, it's one shot, one kill. You'll lose a life if your core gets damaged. Nonetheless, you can earn an extra life for every 10,000 points you earn by defeating enemies or holding onto an exorbitant amount of debris-- becoming an offensive planet of enemy ships and weapons. The parts that can attach to your ship can be used as a shield as well. They won't hold up under repeated enemy fire, but they will take the brunt of the damage. If things become too crowded on the screen-- which they will, you can hold a button to draw in all of your attached appendages. This is perfect for when there's a lot of bullets firing in your direction, and you can't tell where your ship's core unit is.

Use your own foes as temporary shields from enemy fire.

The single-player Arcade and Campaign modes will only hold your attention for so long-- even with three difficulty levels and four classic games to unlock such as Kenta Cho's own Tuniki Fighters. The real treasure and value in Blast Works is the incredibly detailed and exhaustive Editor mode. Not only can you rearrange pre-existing levels and models, but you can create your own from scratch or edit a template to get your creative side jonesing for more. It's not just ships you can create-- it's full-fledged levels, bosses, bullet patterns, background and foreground objects, or just say "enough with polygons" and create pixel art like Mario, Mega Man, and Sonic. With enough time and effort you can honestly create your own game. Unfortunately, the developers didn't make the process as simple as it could have been. It's really not user or newbie-friendly. There's needless clicking and dragging, thinking three-dimensionally when creating a ship or object with little assistance, dealing with making parts and joining them together properly to make a cohesive unit, there's no way to copy a shape from one part to another, et cetera. Don't let that dishearten you though. With enough knowledge and learning, you'll be making sensational ships and shapes in no time. The real fun is knowing that your levels are really only limited to your imagination. You can change the horizon, ground, and sky colors, add mountains in the background, add an ocean to battle in, alter the scrolling speed and direction of your level, and not have to worry about not having enough room as there's plenty of space to make an engaging and lengthy enough level.

The editor is pretty convoluted if you don't seek help.

Even if you lack the creative touch or you're not feeling that wonderful sense of inspiration, Blast Works may still be worth the asking price. Players either share their designs with friends via WiiConnect24, or-- and this is the best part-- they can head to Blast Works Depot online, sign up for no cost at all, and download a variety of uploaded ships, levels, and other content straight to their Wiis. These creations are uploaded by Blast Works fans all around the world to share their masterpieces (and rapes of polygons) with other players. These aren't limited to ships that look like wangs either. There's some really cool and inventive ideas and creations there from the original to video game-themed levels and sprites for use in your own levels. Of course, there's some really cool and inventive wangs, too, but that subject is for another day.

Instead, we'll talk about the framework of Blast Works itself. It runs rather well on the Wii. There's no terribly dreadful technical hiccups, framerate issues, or anything like that. However, some folks, including myself, have had the game freeze on them in the Editor mode. This could be a problem with our Wiis (make your two year-old jokes now about our Wiis having a problem), or it could have to do with the game itself. Who knows? It's not an issue that presented itself too terribly often though for most people. The presentation of the game is rather simple, too. Every model in the game is made up of polygons,. Each part that make up the models are one color each, so there's not a lot of detail to work with unless you're making pixel art or using a lot of shapes in a creation. The soundtrack is made up of techno music from a third party. None of it is too memorable, but to be fair, techno isn't my forte.

Make a Mario sprite, or heck, why not make a Mega Man stage!

For being $20 new, Blast Works is one load of a deal. The already-put-together single-player campaign and arcade modes are nothing fancy, but the real prize lies with the editor. If you find yourself as the imaginative type with a creative flair, you'll get your money's worth and most likely the original asking price money's worth ($40), too. Those without such qualities can still find a lot to enjoy, but perhaps they won't enjoy the title as much. If you aren't creative and you lack a great internet connection to download created and shared goodies, you might want to steer clear of this one.

[SuperPhillip Says]

Graphics: Very simple, and I imagine that's to keep the look and feel of Kenta Cho's Tuniki Fighters and to make creating your own ideas simpler.

Gameplay: An below-average shooter by itself, but being able to latch onto enemies and debris for a shield makes it very cool.

Sound: Nothing out of the ordinary here. If you're into indie techno, you'll be pleased.

Replay Value: Like making your own levels and ships? Awesome. Don't? You may want to rent this then.

Overall: 8.5/10

1 comment:

Kyle said...

I made the mistake of buying this game. The game is somewhat fun IMO, but I really lack the creativity and patience to be good with the editor.