Many will disagree with the statement I’m about to make, but for me, as long as it has a decent artistic design, a nice little story and a unique feel to it, there is very little you have to do to a twin-stick shooter to make it a success.
Now I’m not saying simply copy and paste every successful twin-stick shooter out there and slap a different coat of paint on it. What I’m saying is if you look back over to games like Hotline Miami, LA Cops, JYDGE, God’s Trigger or any other similarly brilliant twin-stick shooters, it doesn’t take much to see that the key mechanics that make them so good are, generally, very much alike. Now though it’s time for Flutter Bombs to make an appearance, and with a keen hope that I could find another title to add to my list of all-time favourite twin-stick shooters I jumped in to see just how good or bad it was.
Flutter Bombs doesn’t quite start players off in a typical twin-stick shooter setting. There’s no story based on hate or revenge – or even a story based on anything to be honest – there’s no world ending catastrophe, or corrupt organisation to topple, and most surprisingly of all, there are no proper guns. Instead Flutter Bombs puts you in control of a simple butterfly, a wingset. Or rather one of 10 wingsets and more importantly one of nature’s most beautiful creations. Fear not though, as whilst butterflies aren’t your usual fear-mongering protagonists, this one is certainly more than capable of finding a way out of the most harrowing situations that can be found in everyday garden life, even if it means firing shots at the local critters.
The game starts off in the garden, however things soon progress to various other overgrown areas, each unique in visual design. To see all 10 of them you’ll need to navigate your way through each of Flutter Bombs three distinct game modes – Campaign, Survival and Boss Rush.
To get to Survival mode or Boss Rush though you’ll first need to get to work on the Campaign as until you’ve made some progress there, you’ll find the other options locked away. In the Campaign, players are tasked with taking out different swarms of enemies – such as bugs, flying ants, spiders, and later on environmental traps. To do this you’ll need to collect balls of nectar from the plants scattered around, loading your Nectar Gun with nectar providing ammo, whilst further Flutter Bombs are a capable way of dealing damage to ground dwelling critters such as spiders. It’s also worth noting that upgrades can be obtained – vastly increasing the attack strength – and this is something you’ll see happening with progression requiring no real extra effort from the player.
With a gauge at the top of the screen filling as enemies are killed, there is always a way to track how much progress you’ve made until the boss appears and the stage is done. It’s nothing complicated, but it works, and it’s easy to understand, making Flutter Bombs a fantastic twin-stick affair for younger gamers.
As is usually the case in these types of games, you can’t expect these attacks to be a one-way feature, and with a vast number of enemies chasing the player down, you should expect to find a consistent barrage of fire heading in your direction too. This is where concentration is a must, as with the environments proving so colourful and a ton of movement happening on-screen at any one time, it can be easy to miss the fact that a stray bullet is about to hit you. Fortunately, you can pick up extra health through the collection of dead bugs, but you’ll still need to keep your wits about you until you’ve at least drowned out a fair few of the local critters.
Flutter Bombs sadly has no online co-op which often works so well in this genre, however there is the chance for local co-op gameplay with up to four players able to play at once. The option is a good one for anyone who wishes to get involved, and with the game presenting itself to younger players, this may be a decent game for a family sit down after tea – particularly should you be finding playing solo a little too challenging.
Once you’ve mastered the game’s Campaign mode however – either alone or with friends – you can then venture further into Survival mode or Boss Rush. Neither really offer anything that hasn’t been seen before, but to have them both included is always going to be a positive. As you would expect, Survival mode is exactly that… a mode to see just how long you can survive against the relenting enemies of the garden. Boss Rush meanwhile focuses on the tough as nails boss fights – something you may or may not be all that interested in getting challenged by.
The gameplay side of Flutter Bombs on Xbox One provides a perfectly capable, albeit repetitive experience, but the visual side of things is something that truly stands out, with eye-popping visuals that illuminate the screen with vibrant colours, plenty of character and tons of detail to enjoy. Of course, should you have numerous enemies on screen at once then things can become a little too hectic at times, but overall the visuals set the tone perfectly for the audience the game is so clearly aimed towards.
If you’re a fan of twin-stick shooters then Flutter Bombs is a game you could well have some fun with. It’s not exactly in-depth, there are only 10 levels to get through, and it can feel repetitive after a while, but with a few different modes to get stuck into, visuals that are pleasing on the eye and some solid gameplay, there are definitely worse ways to spend both your time and money. It’s not going to be a contender for Game of the Year but if you’re someone who likes to sit down with the family for a session of casual gaming, this is one you should consider adding to your collection.