BlastWorks: Build, Trade, DestroyESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer: Budcat Creations
Publisher: Majesco Entertainment
Wii Remote and Nunchuk
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
2D shooters have been around since the early inception of videogame consoles. They have ranged from the simple to the complex. Many people have attributed 2D shooters to the success of videogames as they seem to have a somewhat addictive quality to them while allowing one the feeling of satisfaction when getting to the end. However, the 2D shooter is pretty much a dying breed given that everyone seems so hellbent on the world of 3D. But don’t fret; there are still a few companies who see the need to continue the 2D shooter legacy. Majesco Entertainment is one such company who recognizes that there are fans out there who love old school and original games. They have recently released an innovative game of this nature with an interesting twist. BlastWorks: Build, Trade, Destroy is a crazy 2D shooter that allows you to create, edit and share user created content. So in the end does this game have what it takes? I would say that it pretty much does.
Simple is a word that comes to mind when explaining how this game looks. There is no doubt that BlastWorks definitely does not push the limits of the Wii hardware. That being said the game has a special charm all of its own. The game makes use of colors, but it really seems to stop there. The visuals are blocky and lack a lot of the special effects that are associated with the current crop of 2D shooters already on the market. However not is all bad as there is a smattering of visual tricks such as reflections off of the water. But what really struck me was even with a lack of pizzazz in this area the visuals still manage to get the job done and you really don’t take offence to the lack of such things as particle effects and whatnot that the Wii is capable of. In the end it really is about the gameplay, so the graphics take a backseat here.
The music and sound also take a backseat to the overall gameplay in BlastWorks, but that does not make them a particularly bad thing. The music is very well suited to the on screen action. They can best be described as electronica in nature. The beats that come forth out of the game manage to add to the crazy atmosphere that a shooter tries to create too. As for the rest of the sound effects, the game manages to get the job done, but a lot of them seem to lack the oomph that I expected. For example, the explosions that are a result of an enemies death just don’t pack the punch that many shooters before BlastWorks has managed to convey. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers and all in all I am relatively satisfied by the audio in this game.
BlastWorks is based on a PC game by the name of Tumiki Fighters which was an online 2D shooter which has quite a loyal following. The game is played horizontally, so those looking for a comparison can look to R-Type in terms of the style of play. And as with most shooters, your main goal is to get from point A to point B without having the enemies you face destroy you before you reach the end. There are 15 different levels of mayhem for you to face and each provides its own set of challenges for you to battle through.
Now, 2D shooters are generally just about shooting and navigating through endless levels of enemies and bullets. Well, although this is somewhat true with BlastWorks you can do something else that is quite innovative. Once you destroy your enemies you can absorb their parts and use them to make your own ship bigger and stronger. But that being said you really shouldn’t absorb them randomly as you need to make a conscious decision on the fly as to where you want the enemy ship to land on your own ship. This will determine if their weaponry can be useful in battle. If you just haphazardly let them land on your ship, their bullets may not be useful as they may go in a direction that is no good to you. Having to think about where to let the enemy ship fall adds a bit of strategy to the game given that you must figure out how to use the enemy ships to your advantage. Something that I really enjoyed about this aspect of the game is that I did not just have to try to memorize the pattern of bullets headed my way as I had extra shield power via the enemy ships. I was the author of my own destiny in such that I decided where to put my enemy on my ship so if I died or didn’t make it, it really was my fault.
Controlling your ship on screen is done by using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo, or you can opt to use the classic controller if you have one in your home. There is no doubt that the hardcore shooter fan will choose the latter given that it really does make this game feel more old school. However I do challenge all those who try this game to play with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk as it does give the whole shooter experience a bit of a fresh feeling, if not just something different for awhile.
The single player campaign is quite challenging, and I would expect it to be given that there is so much happening on screen at once. It can get pretty crazy. But the enemy absorption mechanic I speak of really does add to the playability of the game. I have never been the best gamer when it comes to shooters, but I would have to say that I was able to stand a chance when it came to getting through this game.
BlastWorks also has a multiplayer mode, but to tell you the truth I didn’t play this mode much, if any, given that I was having so much fun with the single player aspect. But bottomline here, there is a mode for more then one player to play at the same time and that is a good thing given that you can sit down with a friend or two and enjoy what the game has to offer. The only negative thing I can say about the multiplayer aspect is that when more then one ship starts to grow in size it can get pretty tough to see everything on screen given that the camera does not pull back when the ships get bigger. So be forewarned, the more players who are taking on this game at once, the harder it can become to see what exactly is going on on-screen.
The actual single and multiplayer campaigns are only just the start of what BlastWorks has to offer. Added to the game is a level editor that allows you to design your own levels, ships, enemy ships, objects and even bosses. Yep, you are free to do whatever you want in creating your own level(s) of shooting mayhem. I fooled around a bit with this feature and I found out that I am not nearly as creative as I wish. As well, it took a lot of time for me to even get remotely good at using the editing tool, and it is something that I think any budding level designer out there will need to overcome. That being said, the editing tool is usable and you should be able to make basic levels after a bit of time.
Now given that I am definitely not the most artistic person in the world, and I am sure that there are others out there just like me, Majesco has recognized that some people are going to be better then others. With that in mind anyone with a PC or Wii can head over to www.BlastWorksDepot.com and download user created levels, ships, items, etc. This is one of the most innovative features that I have ever seen in a shooter and something I think everyone needs to try after getting this game. It is very simple to download items and you can use your PC or your Wii to do so. Just go to the website, register for free, include your own Wii number, peruse the site for any content you like, and then send it to your Wii. I found that there was some pretty neat user created items already available in this early stage of BlastWorks lifecycle. I have to hand it to the users out there who have submitted content as they have created some very interesting, original and funky stuff.
For those looking for a bit of added content, if you manage to finish the game you can unlock four complete Kenta Cho (original mind behind the game BlastWorks is modeled after) games including Tumiki Fighters, Gunroar, Torus Trooper and rRootage.
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