Boom! is worth its price tag and little more.
Let’s just call Boom! what it is—a slightly different take on the Angry Birds formula. In the newest game from developer Happy Sprites, you play as some sort of green alien-like dude who must save his caged pal Pinky from the evil wizard Belzaar by riding his monocycle (yeah, monocycle) through various physics-based/platforming levels.
Given the heightened control and many objectives, we could technically say that Boom! is a little deeper than Angry Birds; but even as you collect coins, set off bombs and discover secrets while you attempt to free Pinky and get to the bottom of why Belzaar is such a jerk, it’s still hard to look past the general lack of polish. There are currently 81 available stages in Boom! (with more reportedly on the way), and for the first few levels it’s pretty easy to get swept up in the simple fun. The color palette is bright and cheerful and the characters are cute enough, but once you’ve reached the middle portions of the second world, the sad truth starts to set in: Boom! simply isn’t interesting enough to be a must-play.
Sure, level design is mostly clever from a timing/physics standpoint, but most stages are flat-out boring and seem to just be thrown together with little thought beyond attempting to make getting from point A to point B as tricky as possible. Controls are limited to two virtual buttons that allow you to zoom either left or right, and by repeatedly tapping in either direction, your little guy will accelerate faster. Gaining speed is all well and good, but zipping along too quickly will often cause you to overshoot your goal and far too often opens you up to environmental hazards like spikes or pits. You’re going to die a lot, and though the aforementioned objectives are more than enough reason to try again or revisit cleared stages, you just won’t want to.
Light puzzle aspects (such as timing jumps to access hidden areas or setting off bombs before freeing Pinky) add a layer of difficulty, as do level-specific challenges like beating a set time, collecting every coin or racing against a friend. World Cup mode pits you against the world’s players, and there is even the ability to challenge random players, which is helpful because the third world is inaccessible until you’ve completed 5 races against other players or coughed up real-life coins via the unsurprising existence of micro-transactions.
Collected in-game coins can be used to customize your monocycle or unlock new characters. There are no real advantages beyond cosmetic when it comes to these customizations, and this seems a thinly-veiled means of tricking gamers into more micro-transactions. Surely most of us are smart enough to avoid spending our hard-earned dough on something as trivial as a different colored chassis for a video game conveyance, but we can’t help but feel like there just might be gamers out there who care enough to actually spend the money. Take a tip from us—don’t.
Sound effects are few and far between in Boom! and are sadly limited to the “Vroooom!” of the monocycle, a few chirping birds here and there in the background and noticeably tinny explosions. Music doesn’t exist beyond the title screen, and even though the sound of obtaining coins is kind of pleasant, it might be time to take a long hard look at your developing ability when something so trivial is the crowning achievement of your sound design.
Boom! even sort of looks like the earlier iterations of Angry Birds, but lacks the charm and well-planned levels of the iconic Rovio game. And really, it’s not so much that it’s a facsimile: just similar enough to warrant a mention. Happy Sprites is currently working on new levels for their title, but Boom! is a time-killer at best. This is perhaps a great game for young children or new converts to the world of casual gaming, but with a cost of zero American dollars, more seasoned gamers who just can’t overcome their curiosity for whatever reason certainly won’t have anything to lose by giving Boom! a try – just don’t say we didn’t warn you.