There is a lineage of portable puzzle games that have been successful on handheld consoles. Tetris for the Game Boy and Columns for the Game Gear were the originators and set the groundwork for an influx of puzzle endeavors. While the market has been flush with options over the years, the games we remember most are those that are intuitive while being challenging and fun. Released exclusively on the 3DS eShop, Renegade Kid’s Bomb Monkey is one of those games.
In Bomb Monkey, you hold your 3DS vertically and use either the directional pad or the stylus to aim random colored crates and bombs as you look to destroy as much as possible before the boxes reach the top of the screen. Survival is the goal in the main Endless mode, where your level increases and things start to move a little faster with each combination of exploding crates. By placing same-colored blocks near each other, you’re able to score more points with each successful explosion. These mechanics are very familiar, but Bomb Monkey throws in a new wrinkle which expands on traditional puzzle tropes.
In addition to your pastel colored cargo blocks, some of which require two hits to destroy (they have locks on them), there are fuchsia blocks that have either vertical or horizontal arrows on them. When these blocks are destroyed, an entire row is blasted, shuffling the entire board down. And as mentioned, while some blocks require two hits, there are also bigger bombs that have an expanded radius of destruction and can wipe these locks in a single attempt. With the order of your materials random, there is a bit of strategy in placing these arrowed boxes in order to grab the biggest combos and increase your score. (Our tip for new players: running their blazes of glory into each other creates quite the cleared screen.) The letters in”Bomb” are also scattered throughout your game and when four are destroyed, you get a bombing spree to destroy as much as possible in a short amount of time.
If the standard Endless Mode was the extent of the game, I would have left satisfied, but there’s more to dive into! There are three other single-player modes. Rescue has you trying to clear boxes to be able to bomb your captured friend’s cage a certain amount of time (while avoiding losing and having boxes hit you up top). 3 Minutes is just a timed sprint to get as many points as possible, and Numbers has the numerals 1, 2, and 3 on the screen and you must destroy them in order. Each time you clear all three, your level increases and the numbers appear again. All of these have a high score leader board easily viewable as you pick out your challenge. If these single-player features weren’t enough, there are also two-player Versus and Co-Op modes. Both are played on the same 3DS, with your partner holding the opposite side.
With an easy-to-learn gameplay mechanic and a ton of replay value, it is hard to find weaknesses in Bomb Monkey. For $5, you’re getting what amounts to a full commercial release with a ton of originality and game play modes. The simplicity of the box types keeps the learning curve short, which appeals to a number of gamers (myself included), although hardcore puzzle aficionados may look for a little bit more there. When you stack everything together, Bomb Monkey is a memorable gem worth seeking out.
Pros: Intuitive game play, easy learning curve, number of game options
Cons: Possibly a little variation on block types