At first glance, Boom Blaster actually looks pretty decent. An army of robots have gone rogue and decided to stage an uprising against the Confederacy. You – a prisoner of the Confederacy – have been sent to stop them to atone for your sins. To do that, you’ll have to overcome a horde of robotic enemies as well as your usual spike traps, pits and lava pools.
Sounds good, right? Well, not so fast. Because Boom Blaster really doesn’t live up to its billing.
Indulge me as I tell you about my experience with this game: within thirty minutes of starting, I was forced to reset. The game had completely frozen. Never mind, I thought. These things happen sometimes. I rebooted the game. But when I got back to the action, I realised my progress hadn’t been saved and I would have to play through the entire second level again. So I did, slightly frustrated. Only for the same freeze glitch to happen again. Rinse and repeat this exact situation a few more times and I gave up trying.
I never worked out what caused it. Pausing the game, pressing the Xbox Home button, even respawning all seemed to be seperate causes of the glitch. It made me question who play-tested Boom Blaster, or even whether it was play-tested at all.
This wasn’t even the only glitch I found. There are issues with the achievement system too. On my first attempt, I didn’t earn any when I should have unlocked four or five. My first reset seemed to fix it for a while, until they stopped popping again for some reason. This won’t be a big issue for many, but it’s utterly damning for a game like Boom Blaster. Because this is exactly the kind of game achievement hunters would buy.
If you’re sat there thinking Boom Blaster sounds like some poorly-optimised beta, you’d be right. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any better from there.
Because when it does work, it quickly becomes clear that Boom Blaster is packed full of questionable design choices that only serve to frustrate. The complete lack of a save button is perhaps the most damning, because it places you at the mercy of the game when it inevitably freezes. You could get lucky, and end up losing almost no progress, or end up having to play through the same level three times like I did.
And then there’s the strange choice of control scheme. In Boom Blaster, you’ll be using the left bumper to jump, and the right to shoot. It’s something I’ve never come across before, and after using it I can see why. It makes the game feel incredibly clunky. Using the triggers would have been a much better option, especially because you’ll be using both sticks to move and aim.
The upgrade system looks good on paper – after all, you can upgrade your health, movement speed and weapon power to make your soldier the best they can be. But it doesn’t really work in the game. To buy upgrades, you’ll need to spend the coins found through the levels. Unfortunately, if you die, the amount of coins you have will be halved upon respawning. You’ll be dying a lot, so you’ll often end up finishing a level with only one coin. The result? Levelling your character is extremely slow, and ultimately not worth it.
And finally there are little gameplay features that only add to the already long list of problems. There is no respawn immunity, so you’ll be swarmed and attacked immediately upon respawn. Similarly, you can’t talk to the NPCs and engage with the story because dialogue doesn’t pause combat. Some traps like spikes aren’t distinctive enough. You often can’t see them, and they’re a one-hit kill. And the game is full of spelling and grammatical errors.
The thing that makes all of this especially frustrating? The fact that there are the beginnings of something good here. Having a choice of three characters is a welcome addition, not often seen in indie games. The fact they each have a special ability – an enhanced weapon, more health or faster movement speed respectively – could have allowed you to really specialise and approach the game at different angles. Having a functional upgrade system would only have aided in this.
Furthermore, the boss fights played well and actually put up a challenge. And the game doesn’t actually look that bad. But it’s all completely ruined by terrible gameplay and glitches.
So ultimately, Boom Blaster on Xbox left a bad taste in the mouth. In fact, the only blasting I wanted to do by the end of it, was blasting this game off my hard-drive. Don’t bother picking this one up, because it’s frankly unplayable. There are far too many issues to overlook and it’s an all-round horrible experience.