|The year is fifteen
million, give or take a year or two. An insidious race of feline evil-doers has attacked
earth and is going to deliver some futuristic butt-kicking, but only after they free all
of the house cats. So what do you do? Well the answer is actually relatively logical. You
hire a mad scientist (Youll recognize him by his coke bottle glasses and his vintage
frizzy white hairdo), and you get him to build some robot warriors that know how to skin a
cat faster than the Hong Kong café behind my house. Take the resulting warriors, a.k.a
Boombots, turn em loose and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Neverhood, the creative masterminds behind such innovative titles as SkullMonkeys, are at it again. They bring their signature style of wacky characters, claymation FMVs, and a wonderfully twisted sense of humor into the fighting game arena. The game is set in a 3D, interactive environment reminiscent of Power Stone. Rather than slugging it out with fists and feet in vintage fighting game style, Boombots focus more on projectile attacks which are complemented by a few melee attacks such as throws and strikes. As you move around the arena you pick up shiny yellow stars that increase the damage of your weapons. If you pick up enough stars you go into Mongo Mode where you can lay down a relatively serious whooping.
You have access to a total of fifteen different characters, and can do battle in up to fifteen different 3D arenas, ranging from a space station to a giant litter box with a special surprise steaming in the middle. As you progress through the various levels, your objective is not only to win, but to win on your first try so you can remain undefeated. If you are unbeaten, you are allowed to access bonus levels, and if you beat those levels you can add new Boombots to your roster and new levels to play on. Between each level you are given a claymation style FMV that shows the wacky antics of Boombots and their feline foes. The cut scenes range from amusing to down right hysterical, and are a very enjoyable experience.
I was in love with this game, for about a half an hour. I mean I was really having a great time with it, and then it just kind of stopped. The cut scenes are great, but theyre the same for all fifteen characters. If youve been through the game with one character youve seen everything the FMVs have to offer. No matter how funny something is, it just isnt going to be funny after five or six times. I would have liked more variety here, and more of an incentive to play through with multiple characters. The wacky professor who guides you through your missions is also quite amusing, but he suffers from a similar problem. He says the exact same things to you every time, no matter which character you play. Even if you play one of the hidden characters, like Mandu the Cat Aliens leader, he says the same thing to you and even calls you his Boombotwhich clearly you are not. A little more variety here would have gone a long way, and greatly increased the replay value.
The control is good, in that it is very precise and simple. On the downside all of the characters have essentially the same moves: machine-gun, rocket, and guided missile. The graphical differences between the moves are very small, and they all work nearly identical to one another with only slight variation in speed and power. Everyone has different throws, but they function about the same. Collecting enough of the glowing yellow stars will put you into Mongo Mode. In Mongo Mode your character gets bigger, looks even funnier, and is attached to the roof by a cool-looking energy column. While in Mongo Mode you can unleash some serious damage, but once again its the same for every character. You can shoot a giant ball of energy at your opponent. Each character shoots a different color ball of energy, but I would have liked to see more variety. When playing Boombots, I was reminded of Unholy War, an earlier title on the Playstation, which used a very similar design of projectile based fighting in a 3D environment, but it had a great deal of variety in moves, strengths, and weaknesses. Most importantly, every character was unique. In Boombots the replay value is hurt considerably by a lack of variation.
On the up side, the design does have its advantages. The simple control scheme and relatively low violence content make it an ideal game for pre-adolescents. Although the game is centered around combat, it is a mild form of violence between funky robots, and is along the lines of, say, the Road Runner cartoons. The humor, while still funny for adults, isnt going to be above anybody's head-- once again making for ideal for a younger audience.
So, while Boombots is an innovative, creative masterpiece thats full of fun and humor, its lack of replay value and depth prevents it from getting a great score for the general audience, but its defiantly worth a rent. For the younger video gaming public Boombots gets an enthusiastic thumbs up, and with a suggested retail price of $39.95, the price cant be beat.