Blastworks: Build, Fuse and Destroy
As the power of consoles grows over time, developers have a tendency to try and squeeze every last bit of graphical grunt out of a machine that they can. Games get more graphically impressive, then, but there are times when gameplay can take a backseat to all this eye candy. With that in mind, it’s always welcome to see a game that focuses on gameplay over visuals. A game that recognises that being simple and straightforward can still be a lot of fun. That game is Blastworks: Build, Fuse and Destroy.
Based on the 2004 PC Shareware title Tumiki Fighters, Blastworks is a horizontal shooter like any number of games from days gone by, such as R-Type or Gladius. The twist to Blastworks is that as you destroy the enemies you face, they’ll turn into parts which you can pick up and add to your own small ship. Just bump into the parts as they fall off the screen and they’ll be added to your ship. All sorts of weapons can be added in this fashion, firing in all sorts of directions, and these can turn your tiny ship into something resembling a flying machine of death. The extra parts can also act as a defence for your ship, but they will fall off as you’re hit, leaving you vulnerable again. You can also retract the extra bits into your own ship at any time, saving them from bullet fire and letting you unleash them again whenever you choose. This does leave you with less firepower, but also makes your ship much smaller, and therefore much easier to manoeuvre through small gaps in enemy fire, or the bullet spray from a boss. You could of course use the same tactics I did, which is to simply use your attached parts as a proverbial battering ram, letting them get shot and fall off, and simply replacing your lost parts with the broken shells of your dead enemies.
The mechanics of the game and the random way in which extra parts are added to your ship give the game a wonderfully random feel to it. You could replay the 15 levels countless times and on each of them end up with different bits stuck in different places firing different weapons in different directions. And replay the levels you will certainly have to do, as they will provide a stiff challenge, especially to players who may not be too familiar with this type of game. For the more masochistic gamers out there, the harder difficulty levels will present a challenge of near epic proportions. Just be sure to keep all the breakable items out of your arms reach.
The campaign mode can be played by up to four players locally, and while it’s enjoyable to have friends playing with you, as you build up bigger and more powerful ships, things can get very chaotic on the screen, and it's even confusing at times trying to figure out where you are and who is who. It’s not very often I would say this about a game, but this is definitely a game you’ll get more enjoyment out of on your own.
Should you complete the game, you’ll unlock 4 bonus games to go with the main campaign. As well as unlocking the original Tumiki Fighters, you will also get access to Torus Tooter, rRootage, and Gunroar. These games are all made by Kenta Cho, owner of ABA Games and a lover of shoot ‘em ups. They’re all fun titles and well worth spending a bit of time with when you unlock them.
To go alongside the main game, there is also an in-built level editor. This was initially a part of the game I didn’t have too much interest in, as I’m not really the most creative chap in the world. However, when I decided to have a play with it, I came to realise that the editor in Blastworks is an impressive feature that will increase the longevity of the game immensely. Using the editor, you can create ships, enemies, level elements, enemy placements, scenery, and much more. There are hundreds of objects that come with the game that you use as the basis for your creative efforts, all of which were used on the campaign mode, so you know you’re working with proper objects.
The editor itself isn’t the easiest tool to use initially, especially given the fact that you have to use the Wiimote. Grabbing and rotating objects can at first be a challenge in itself, and the less patient out there may certainly turn their back on the editor before they fully get to grips with it. If you persevere however, and use the tutorials as a guide, then with a bit of work your creative juices will start to flow and the shelf life of the game will be dramatically increased, as you create your own levels and share them amongst your friends.
To aid in the sharing process, you can use the game's official website - BlastWorksDepot.com. On this website, you can browse through the categories, such as Ships, Levels, Enemies, Elements, and more, to find the features you’d like to download. You can get whole levels created by the community, download elements and objects to use in your own design, or simply look for inspiration for your own ideas. For creatively challenged people, of which I am one, this is an excellent way of allowing people to get ideas and inspiration from others. Or to simply download the complete levels and play them. It’s a feature I wish was in more games, as it really does mean the longevity is in a league of its own.
There aren't many games around that have the ability to keep people entertained for a huge amount of time. Stories come to a conclusion, the action gets repetitive, it becomes too easy, all are reasons why some games stay sat on the shelf instead of sitting on your console. Blastworks is a game that won’t suffer from this setback too easily. With a challenging campaign and four mini games to unlock, by itself it offers an enjoyable experience that will keep a smile on your face for some time. When you then factor in the editor, and then add BlastWorksDepot.com to the mix, that smile may become permanently attached to your face. It’s not the perfect game by any means. The graphics are rudimentary and won’t be to everyone’s taste. It’s difficult to see what’s going on if you’ve got friends around to play with you, too. The editor is tough to get used to and will put some people off. However, if you can ignore these problems, you’ll find a very enjoyable shooter that will keep you challenged and happy for months on end.