Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hieronymus Bash Review


When I play a game like this, it really makes me appreciate the XBCG community and what it's bringing to the table. This is clearly a project that was a labor of love for the developers, and something tells me they had a ton of fun and laughs creating it.

If you think the name is a little 'out there' wait until you see the title screen. I have to point it out because I was laughing for a good minute trying to figure out what I was looking at. Two ears with a switchblade coming out of it? A little creature climbing a ladder in to a woman's butt? Priceless.

So once you jump in, you'll find it's a nice pick-up-and-play design. It's dodgeball platformer style, with a strong (funny) thematic twist. You pick devils and angels to play with (either team or free-for-all) and the balls are actually human souls!! That may sound horrific but it's actually very light-hearted. You jump and float around (A button), pick up balls and throw them at your opponents (both using Right Trigger). You can also use a well timed push of the Right Trigger to cancel out an incoming hit (catch). The simple play also allows for dedicated players to master the dodgeball trade.

As hinted at, the graphics and theme are strong (while a bit odd/random). There's a nice variety of levels to play and they are well-designed for fast paced action. The controls are tight and responsive. And the SFX/music follows through well on the quirky theme. We're not at the high end of what we've seen graphically on XBCG, but it's a very nice 2D presentation.

So as you can tell, I feel this game has much going for it. There's really only one design decision that brings it down for me, but it's sort of a big deal, and I am sure it was something the developers thought about. It's heavily aimed at multiplayer. In fact, the game originally 'shipped' with only a multiplayer aspect, but the devs smartly re-released with a 'bot' element allowing for single player dodgeball action. While bot play helps, the game still really requires that you have a good group of gamer friends to play with in order to get full enjoyment out of it. It's a shame too, because the mechanics are tight enough where I could envision a full single player campaign using all of the same set pieces.

I did convince my wife to sit down and play with me (second time this year maybe?) and it confirmed that this game is really easy to pick up, much more fun when playing with friends, and that my wife is in fact always going to be terrible at video games. Ahhh well.

The bottom line is, grab this game sooner rather than later if you have a group of friends to play it with. It's a good deal at 200 MP, and if you're a family of gamers this would also be a solid battle game (in the spirit of Mario Brothers battle mode) for the family. If you're more of a solo gamer and/or are looking for a strong single player aspect, it's probably a pass. My hat is off to the devs though, nice presentation and delivery - and bonus points for following through on a great wacky theme.

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