When the very first thing asked of you by a game and its developers is whether a buttery biscuit base is still a thing, you quickly realise that what is to come isn’t ever going to treat itself too seriously.
And that is exactly the case with what Curvature Systems have done with Super Bomb Rush!.
That question has absolutely nothing to do with any part of Super Bomb Rush!, but it goes some way to allowing you into the mind of the development team. It also puts you fully at ease with what is to come… a rather clever, very simple, amazingly hectic affair that is unlike anything else you can find on the current batch of consoles.
Super Bomb Rush! tasks you with defusing a number of bombs, with a five second fuse time on each one. You’ll need to follow the direction and face button inputs at speed, bashing out the required pattern for each. Because if you don’t you’ll be left with an almighty crash and thrown right back to the start again.
Visually, Super Bomb Rush! is absolutely nothing to look at. In fact, the visuals for this game are pretty much the most unimportant aspect of all – and thankfully so too. You will however find bright colours and lots of flashing lights – enough in fact to ensure you won’t be able to sleep for seeing them ingrained on the inside of your eyelids. Accompanying those colours though is some pretty damn fun, massively addictive gameplay.
The Arcade mode is your first port of call, if only because until you get to grips with Super Bomb Rush!, all future modes are locked down. This is classic bomb defusing at its best as one player tries to defuse a run of 50 bombs, with just the one life available. With the screen filled with a ready to blow bomb, your required inputs run down the left side of your screen. It starts off easy, with the first five bombs just requiring you to hit three different directions on the d-pad. But then the next five drop an extra input in, whilst the five after that include the involvement of some face button pressing.
As you can guess, things ramp up in difficulty the further you get down the line, with red arrows signifying the reverse button needs a hit, whilst mirror prompts mean you have to press the last arrow in the sequence first. Curvature Systems have done their best to ensure your mind gets just a little frazzled, and that’s exactly what happens.
With 50 bombs to defuse – each with that five second defusing time – the Arcade mode is a great place to learn the ropes of Super Bomb Rush!. It’s also hugely addictive as one mistake will see your run end, leaving you with attempting to make your way past your previous faults on your next attempt.
When all goes to pot and your head becomes too scrambled by the multitude of arrows and flashing visuals on display, with things culminating in an explosion, you’ll be gifted a random reward of Rush Coins. The amount you get is entirely random, and so no matter whether you drop out on the second bomb, or manage to grind your way to double figures and some of the trickier patterns, your reward will be determined by the randomness that Super Bomb Rush! allows. If I’m honest, this is pretty annoying, especially as Rush Coins are used to unlock further game modes, and it grates to see just two coins distributed for what feels like a decent run, whilst an early mistake can see you hit with considerably more. Some form of tie in, delivering more coins the further you get, would be hugely preferred.
But the more you play, the more coins you’ll inevitably earn and the better you’ll get at Super Bomb Rush!. Manage to make it to level 25 of Arcade and you’ll open up the local Versus mode, whilst level 35 will enable full-on Co-op. These are both great additions to an otherwise solo experience and should you have a local friend who is willing to sit down and fire out some patterns alongside you, will find a great amount of joy… and shouting. Lots of shouting in fact as one wrong move by either party sees everything come crashing down.
Goal Rush mode is attainable by reaching level 40 of Arcade, and whilst this seems to be a big ask for many, the opportunity to unlock each of the modes mentioned with those collected Rush Coins is a good one. You’ll need to grind away with Arcade for a little bit, unless you have proper hardcore bomb defusing skills, but will never find it too much of a chore.
That final mode – Goal Rush – is where the real fun begins though, delivering five different challenge types and multiple levels of difficulty. It all starts off with simple defusal objectives, much like that found in Arcade, but without the tension of trying to hit 50 stages in a row. That is followed by the Reversal challenges in which everything is, well, reversed and the Combo offerings which see you needing to hit the same defusing sequence three times in a row. With everything from Beginner through to Legendary style patterns included, and paying out big coins upon completion, you can be sure that Goal Rush will deliver the longevity that a game needs.
Gather up enough of those delightful Rush Coin and you’ll also be able to unlock two further challenge types – Hacker and Cypher – both of which will appeal to those who think of themselves as something of a legendary defuser.
If you think that collecting up coins to unlock these challenges is going to ensure that Super Bomb Rush! is a bit of a grind, then well, yes, you’d be right. But the inclusion of multiple gameplay objectives paying out extra coins upon completion sees it never be too bad.
You see, extra coins come about once you’ve hit out just a few co-op and versus games, whilst 100 attempts at the Arcade mode delivers even more. That may seem a lot of games, but when each run of bomb defusing madness could well be over in just a minute at most, it’s really not too much of a stretch to aim for these extra objectives.
So Super Bomb Rush! is a good fun playthrough, especially if you find yourself bored for five minutes and wish to try and better any personal bests.
It does however let itself down slightly in the actual gameplay department as those with the very fastest fingers will occasionally get frustrated by the fact that inputs aren’t always recognised. When you only have five seconds to defuse a bomb, every millisecond counts and you rarely get time to think and wonder whether that button press you actioned has actually taken hold. That nagging feeling at the back of your mind as you go into another run isn’t a nice one, and no matter how much you wish you could block it from your head, just like most naggers, it’s always there no matter what.
Many may also find fault in the lack of variety found in the actual defusing patterns. Initially all will seem fine as you batter out your defusing antics, but each time you see a bomb explode, you’ll be thrust back to the start again, with the exact same pattern requirements in place. I get that there are only so many variations that are possible with the d-pad directions – and learning the patterns is most definitely key to any success – but a bit of randomness may well ensure that the earlier, easier stages don’t get boring.
But for those negatives, in comes some awesome audio to pretty much save the day. Not only are the backing and menus soundtracks by ArgoFox delivered beautifully, really heightening the bomb rush action, but the over enthused, loud mouth narrating and bomb shouting excitement that is found throughout each and every run you attempt is brilliant. Hats off to Richard Maevers for never coming across as annoying with his constant gameplay narrative.
It is with this narration that we get back to what is good about Super Bomb Rush!. The fun. It’s hugely addictive one more go attitude is a massive draw, whilst the enjoyment aspects it delivers from start to finish is massively appreciated. The gameplay is simple and effective and even though it lets itself down on occasions, the sheer pace of matters ensures it is never to big a deal.
It may not have a buttery biscuit base, but Super Bomb Rush! has just enough mix to create something that is well worth a little shot.