Coming from the fine folks over at High Tea Frog, there’s a new party game in town; one that combines two of my biggest loves: cakes and fighting. Have you ever wanted to be a cake, with the ability to punch other cakes in the squishy bits? Have you ever wanted to use a cocktail umbrella as an offensive weapon, or fight off a hermit crab? Well, I have great news for you and you’ll most certainly want to come with me to a world of sentient cakes, violence and silly minigames. The only caveat is I get to be one of the yellow French Fancies, okay?
So, I’d best explain what Cake Bash is all about, hadn’t I? The story, as if it matters, is that you are one of four cakes (either bots, or players on the couch screen-sharing or over Xbox Live can take the part of the other three) who has to compete to become the tastiest cake in the bakery. When playing the single player mode, the goal is explained in a cutscene; the brief from the customer is displayed. For instance, they may be looking for a fancy cake, or a cake with animals on, for instance. Playing multiplayer removes this briefing, strangely, so going all in with others means you are competing without a clear idea of the goal. But it’s not a massive issue, to be honest.
Get Tasty is the main competitive mode, and is split into three categories: Bash, Snack Time and Shopping. Bash is the main PvP (or PvE) section of the game, and it’s the one that generally just devolves into a massive ruck as various sweet treats try and punch the filling out of each other. There are a variety of different games to play, ranging from throwing stars or fruit into a pie, all the way up to smashing fortune cookies, via attempting to pick up as many sweets as possible or even getting covered in hundreds and thousands. The main aim should be to attempt to play the objective, but there is a wealth of room in Cake Bash which will let you disrupt your competitors from actioning similar objectives, all with the judicious application of a good slap. If there is a sillier sight than four cakes all fighting to push each other out of a stream of confectionery that is falling from the sky, I’ve yet to see it.
The various modes, along with the differing maps that Cake Bash comes with, make each game different. It’s also nice that each round is voted upon by its participants, so if you have a favourite map it’s possible to influence voting towards it. The maps are great too, my favourite being that of the Patio, set on a table in the garden, complete with peril in the shape of pigeons and their various excretions. Again, seeing a cake being chased around a patio table by a pigeon is a sight you are unlikely to see anywhere else. But there are others too – do you want to be chased around a beach blanket by a hermit crab, or maybe have a level that looks like the surface of the moon, complete with disappearing chunks? How about a factory stage, with a fan blowing the cakes around and a burner in the middle, that can be turned on by cakes to get flame-based vengeance? Well, you’ve come to the right game for sure.
Snack Time splits up the bashing, working as a series of minigames, involving such diverse activities as toasting marshmallows, which can then be stuck to your cake, scoring points for each perfectly browned specimen. Other tasks involve spearing fruit from a chocolate fountain and throwing fruit into a Bakewell Tart (yes, I know it’s traditionally called a Bakewell Pudding, but the game is what it is!) and many more. These aren’t combative in any way, and the only competition comes from the clock and the amount of points your competitors score. Now, each time you complete an activity, depending on how well you do there are varying amounts of coins awarded to your chosen cake, and these can be spent in the third mode, Shopping.
It is here where another cake wheels in a shopping cart, allowing your hard-earned coins to be exchanged for toppings that can be applied to your character. There are varying sizes and prices, and if you find yourself short of pennies, there is a luck-based capsule that can be bought for only two coins. These can contain sweet toppings, but can also contain stinky cheese or fish skeletons, so beware! If you do end up with an undesirable item attached to your cake, you can get rid of it in the bin, although that also costs two coins. However, as each bad item that is attached to you at the end can reduce your tastiness quotient (I have no idea if that’s the correct term, but you are scored on how tasty you are at the end) by up to 50 points, occasionally the difference between a win or a last place is this; getting rid is usually a good idea.
So, I have to address the elephant in the room here, and chat about how ridiculously cute the cakes look. With several well-known archetypes of cake to choose from (cupcake, Viennese Whirl, eclair and so on) in various different colours, all of which have an endearing hand-drawn kind of look, Cake Bash is almost enough to cause diabetes just by looking at it. It’s helped that each of these cake types comes with a humorous name too. The audio is funny also, with scrapping cakes providing some meaty sounding punches being thrown. All in all the presentation of the game is first rate – cakes with skinny arms and legs, fighting, sounding like a scene from a Bruce Lee movie: who could want more?
Well, people without friends, for one. You see, although the cute gameplay and look is all well and good, playing solo against bots is a bit of a sad affair. Being kind, the bots are fairly dumb, and they won’t really stretch your gaming capabilities; as such I can’t really recommend this to the anti-social lone gamer. Get a group of friends though and Cake Bash is transformed. I can honestly say, from testing this game with others from the hard-bitten, cynical review team here, I’ve never heard so much laughter, so much name calling and so much general abuse/banter as I have in a round or five of Cake Bash on Xbox One.
If you have a team of friends who are always online, I can almost call Cake Bash an essential purchase, as it is truly bonkers, and different each time. It’s just a shame that for single players, whilst there is fun to be had, it’s reduced down a smidge.