At first glance I suspected Bombsquad would be just another Bomberman knockoff, but boy was I wrong.
Previously being a MAC exclusive, Bombsquad has made its way onto the OUYA, a platform I found very fitting for it. Bombsquad puts you head to head against AI or your friends, using bombs and your fists to complete objectives.
Bombsquad aims to be a party game, and nails it. The game’s mechanics are simple enough for new players to pick up and enjoy, yet detailed enough to where the skill of an experienced player can shine through. The game follows the usual tropes of a bomb game. Players use bombs to kill enemies, while collecting power-ups to acquire different bomb types and special abilities. However Bombsquad takes this a step further with its design. Players also get the ability to sprint, jump, punch, and grab.
These actions are fairly simple and mundane by themselves, but using and combining these abilities in different situations is where the fun and strategy really comes in.
Players have momentum which can be used to their advantage to hit harder or throw farther, but it can also work against them when they accidentally run off the map, or slam into a wall. These tactile physics in addition to the wonderful look of the levels, really makes the game world feel tangible and engaging. The game also features a classical orchestral soundtrack which adds to the fun and excitement of the world.
While the game’s core gameplay is massively fun, it could have gotten stale, luckily Bombsquad features a slew of game types to keep the game fresh. Ranging all the way from football, to tower defense, Bombsquad has a large collection of different games to play. There are 12 cooperative missions, supporting from 1 to 4 players. If you are interested in PvP, there are Free-for-All and Versus game types that can be played by 2 to 8 people. If playing alone, your only option are the 12 cooperative missions.
The problem with playing these alone is the difficulty. When playing solo you are given 1 life per mission, and after the first few missions, the difficulty ramps up massively. After a long and difficult grind I was finally stopped at the 7th co-op mission while playing alone. It was simply too difficult to complete by myself. This frustrated me, but the inclusion of the 2 endless wave mission that can be played solo, and the fact that this is made to be a party game, allowed me to look past this.
While not optimized for solo play, the game’s co-op touts 3 achievements per mission which encourage you to go back and complete it with different techniques. Bombsquad also saves your high scores and features a very competent leaderboard, allowing you to see how you stack up against the rest of the world.
Typically the problem with a party game is that you don;’t have enough controllers for everyone to play. But Bombsquad tackles this issue head on. In addition to the normal OUYA controllers, there is support for PC keyboards and gamepads, Wiimotes, and both PS3 and Xbox 360 controllers. These can be connected either wirelessly, or via a USB hub attached to the OUYA console. And that’s not all. With Bombsquad’s free app, any IOS or Android device can be used as a controller. I tested the app out on my Nexus 7 and found it very customizable, but as expected, the game is best played with an actual controller.
Bombsquad allows for an hour of the game to be played for free, before requiring a $4.99 purchase to keep playing. It was the first OUYA game I bought, and I highly recommend it. Its fun humor, brilliant design, and simplicity has captured what a party game should be. Bombsquad gets a 5 out of 5.
This review was based on the Bombsquad available on the OUYA Marketplace as of 7/21/2013