Slam Bolt Scrappers

March 18, 2011

Slam Bolt Scrappers is a tough game to explain. Fire Hose Games’ PSN effort is part-puzzle game, part-brawler, part-tower defense and all-crazy. We think, though, that it’s worth checking out. 

In Slam Bolt Scrappers, you’re a fighter. Well, you could be a welder-looking guy, a construction worker, a demon or a girl with dyed hair, among other things. You fly around an area. (How do you fly? It’s not clear, but it’s best that you give up on trying to apply logic to this game before we get any further.) Baddies pop up, and you punch them with the X and Square buttons to defeat them. Why are you doing this? Well, when you beat up an enemy, it drops a Tetris-like block that you can drop in a set area to form squares of the same color. Your opponent is doing the same thing, punching enemies, dropping blocks, and occasionally coming over to beat you down too. 

Okay, hold tight. We’re only about halfway through.

Back to those squares. Those form towers, such as laser towers, rocket towers, shield towers or drill towers. These towers attack your opponent’s towers. The larger the square gets, the exponentially more powerful the tower is. It’s easy to form little 2-by-2 towers, but if you can manage to construct a 5-by-5 or 6-by-6 one, you’re a formidable threat.

When a player loses all towers, it’s game over for them. Fighters respawn with a time delay, and hitting buttons as prompted speeds up that process, so things stay frantic. Add to all this the ability to use invisible blocks to pick up parts of the tower and move them around, the addition of ninja enemies that drop power-ups and special levels with gameplay variations, and Slam Bolt Scrappers is the game version of an energy drink.

There are two main modes: Campaign and Battle. Battle allows for four players to take each other on, be it in teams or free-for-all. (The options here are very similar to Smash Bros., as is the menu interface. Everything is very familiar-feeling.) The game has seven different block types, and creating a battle match includes picking which to use. The game allows all seven, but it recommends three or four, and we agree that it’s the sweet spot. 

Campaign allows one to four players to take on increasingly-powerful enemies in various scenarios. The campaign mode is rather short, but each level scales to one of four difficulty levels and one to four players, and it keeps track of best times for each one. The lower levels let players learn the basic strategies, and the Expert difficulty is simply brutal. If you want to play this multiple times, it’s definitely possible. 

Technically, the game doesn’t impress, but we’re not sure the developers care that much about pushing graphical capabilities or making an awe-inspiring score. This game is bizarre, and it’s going to be bizarre even with those things. Another point that may disappoint some: there’s no online multiplayer. We don’t mind it, since the best way to play games like this is with everyone in the same room, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt things to include it.

Slam Bolt Scrappers retails for $15, which may not be everyone’s favorite price, but there’s legitimately innovative gameplay here, and we say it’s worth it. Not everyone’s as crazy as we are, though, and it takes a little bit of crazy to like this one.

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.