Remember the days of playing video games with friends? In the same room, I mean. Long before online raids and multiplayer lobbies filled with people you don’t know, it used to be you, a friend or two or three, and a couch. Great local multiplayer has a stronger party-vibe than playing with friends digitally. Rather than struggling to complete a sentence over an unstable internet connection, you can turn to your friend and taunt them in person when you successfully remove a portion of their head in Boomerang Fu – the new and terrifically fun game from Cranky Watermelon.
On the surface, Boomerang Fu looks incredibly simple. However, it actually is incredibly simple. From the most seasoned of gamers to people that call every console a “Nintendo”, anyone can pick up a controller and start having fun. Within minutes of opening the game, you and up to five friends will go from knowing nothing to having hilarious and bombastic battles.
Each time you begin a new match, you have the option to do a warm-up round for those who wish to become familiar with the controls. It does not take long as all you need is a single stick and three buttons to play. Using your handy-dandy boomerang, you can slash what or whoever is in front of you, or throw it to get those foes that will not stop running away. Despite this simple set of actions, there is plenty of depth to the combat in Boomerang Fu. A well-timed throw or slash can deflect enemy boomerangs, and you can even charge or curve a thrown boomerang for some skillful trickshots.
Pulling off said trickshots becomes pretty tricky when you and your frenemies begin collecting power-ups. Dropping randomly onto the battlefield, the 12 unique power-ups can be combined together to create a variety of crazy attacks. You may hold the lead for a while, but once your friend has a multi-boomerang that splits into five boomerangs which all leave a trail of fire and end in a large explosion, you are going to regret the taunts and boomerangs you threw in their direction. These power-ups are completely customizable before each round. You can turn off power-ups altogether if you want to. In fact, the customization does not end there as you can change the rules and options for each of the game’s three modes as well.
The three game modes available are Team Deathmatch, Free for All, or Golden Boomerang. Within each variation, you will be slicing, exploding, and destroying your friends to achieve victory. In Team Deathmatch and Free for All, the conditions for victory can be changed between scoring the most kills or being the last one standing. In Golden Boomerang, the objective is to maintain a grip on the coveted golden boomerang for the longest amount of time. Though three game modes does not sound like a lot, the options available for customizing and changing the rules of the game leave a lot of room for experimentation with friends.
Of course, maybe you cannot always play Boomerang Fu with friends. That does not mean that you should let the game pass you by. There is the option to play with up to five CPU players as well. After playing against bots on Easy, Medium, and Hard, I can assure you there is plenty of fun to be had against some challenging and thoughtful AI. In fact, you can train against them in order to destroy your friends the next time you have them over.
Aside from its bevy of frenetic gameplay options, Boomerang Fu is also one of the most visually pleasing games I have played this year. Choosing from one of 12 adorable foody characters is difficult. Do I want to be the chubby donut, the over-caffeinated coffee mug, or the cute popsicle that bounces around on a single stick? Each one of these characters is lovingly and uniquely animated in ways that not only look adorable, but make it easy to keep track of the action on screen. One of my favorite touches of animation is the way that characters dramatically fall to the ground after being eliminated. The carton of milk is especially great in the way that it slowly “bleeds” out.
I have a hard time finding great local multiplayer games. Not only are they not being made all the time, but a lot of them seem to miss the mark when it comes to engaging gameplay that does not get stale. Boomerang Fu on Xbox One rises above this crowd by providing plenty of options, being easy to pick up, and hard to put down. Add the game’s adorable visuals, and you have a recipe for a local multiplayer game with a lot of staying power. After every match ends, you and your friends will find yourselves constantly saying, “Just one more”.