The fine folks over at Fire Hose Games are combining two things that I never thought could (logically) be combined; Tetris and weapons! Slam Bolt Scrappers is Fire Hose Game’s first release and even though it’s not slated for release until early 2011, it’s already looking pretty sweet. Never heard of Fire Hose Games? Luckily for you they put together a nice little video to show you what they are all about.
There used to be an embeded media player here, but it doesn't work anymore. We blame the Tumbeasts.
Now that you know the team, lets talk about the game. SBS is Tetris-like in the way you take shaped blocks and combine them with other shaped blocks, but that’s about it. There are definitely key differences in the game that separate it from other Tetris games and makes it far from a Tetris clone. The biggest difference is that instead of clearing lines you will be forming groups of blocks into squares of 2×2, 3×3, or 4×4 that will then turn into weapons to blast your opponents tower. The color of the blocks will determine what type of weapon is created when a square is formed. So far I’ve seen red shoots missiles, purple gives you lasers, green launches drills, and blue provides shields. You want your tower to be as large as possible so you can tear down your opponents hopes and dreams faster. If you didn’t know, the tears of your enemies taste like Skittles.
Another aspect of the game is the fighting. To get blocks you need to pulverize the monsters that appear on screen. Their color will denote what color block you will get when you kill them. The monsters do more than just sit there and wait for you to kill them; they also drop bombs that damage your tower. These bombs can also damage you so if you’re not careful you will find yourself knocked out. On top of the monsters, you need to be on the look out for other players. Just as you can beat up the monsters you can also knockout other players. This adds a entirely new dynamic to game play and strategy. If a player is knocked out, their tower is left defenseless until they get back; the opponent can really get the upper hand if they’re smart. If you do get knocked out, you can respawn faster if you successfully complete the button combination that will appear next to your health bar. There are power ups you can attain to help you protect yourself and take out opponents faster. So you will also need to be on the look out for those because if you don’t have them, that means your opponent does.
I reached out to Fire Hose Games to get more info and Eitan Glinert (fearless leader) was kind enough to answer some questions for me.
Where did you come up with the concept?
It came to me at 5:24am after pulling an all-nighter with a 2-liter of Jolt Cola and a box of Pixie Sticks. That and it was a completely evolutionary process. The game actually started out based on architecture if you can believe it, and the version you are looking at now is iteration 5(!) of Slam Bolt Scrappers; iterations one through four didn’t quite make the cut and required heavy reworking. The game was always about building and fighting but has changed a lot over time; in one earlier, you were building with tangram-like shapes to fill in puzzles, and in another, you were racing with other superheroes to patch up a crumbling dam before it collapsed.
Will the game come with online multiplayer? If the multiplayer is online will there be any type of matchmaking or ranking system?
The game will definitely have 1-4 player local multiplayer; both competitive and co-op. We don’t know if the final version will have online multiplayer yet.
Any permanent character upgrades or powers that can be obtained by achievements or other methods?
Well, we don’t want to give too much away but I will say that we have a lot more in the hat department besides the few that we’ve shown off so far (hard hat, sombero, viking helm). Beyond that we will also have other unlockables but they won’t be simple stat boost things like you see in some other games – our unlockables will generally result in new play mechanics and abilities. For instance, one unlockable will be block types, allowing you to build different weapons in your tower.
The game play between different videos look different. Are you planning multiple game modes or will each level have different aspects that will change game play? Can you tell us about some of the differences?
Yes! Glad you picked up on that. The game will have two central game modes. The first will be a battle mode where players pick characters, enable block types and power ups, and choose a level for a quick battle (think Smash Bros). The second mode is a complete co-op campaign with all sorts of different levels and advancement (think Castle Crashers). Of course everything is playable with 1 to 4 players. Beyond that, each level will present its own twist to keep things interesting – so Mountaintop level features a giant robot boss battle and snow hazards, while Volcano City features platforms precariously balanced on scales above lava pits. There’s a lot of stuff in there, and we can’t wait to show off the new levels!
I’ve read that SBS is the sixth iteration of this idea. What happened with the other five? Any chance those might resurface some day?
Sixth? Who told you that! THEY’RE LIARS. No, SBS is the 5th iteration. Basically the earlier versions were scrapped because they didn’t blend the fighting and building elements adequately. Iteration 2 led to people choosing which role to fill (“You fight! I’ll build”) instead of doing both, iteration 3 was too building-centric, and iteration 4 was too fighting-centric. But that’s the nice thing about being a small indie studio – you can take the time necessary to make something really good and can push back deadlines if necessary to make a great game. Plus we always managed to keep the good parts from the earlier builds, so it’s not like we were starting from scratch every time.
Why did you decide to make the game a PS3 exclusive? I was pretty sure that when I played at PAX East it was on a 360. Where there previous plans to release on multiple platforms? Is that a possibility in the future?
Ha! Good memory. Basically we think that the PSN is probably a great marketplace for us – Sony does a fantastic job of promoting small new indies with great ideas (especially ones that don’t necessarily fit in predefined genres), and PSN fans and customers are really willing to try out awesome looking new games. Also, we really wanted to work with Sony Online Entertainment since they’ve got a kick ass track record of helping indies get in to the market and letting them keep creative control. As for the future, who knows? Anything is possible, but currently there are no plans to release SBS on any system besides the PS3.
Can we expect anymore hardcore hip-hop videos from Fire Hose?
Man, I hope so. Working at this place is kinda like Glee in real life, so we just need to remember to video tape the spontaneous musical numbers more often.
Fire Hose was also kind enough to provide us with some screenshots and extended game play footage that you will find below. I had a chance to play SBS at PAX East (several times I might add) and had a blast. Nothing makes you feel better about yourself than demolishing your opponents carefully constructed tower. I’m really looking forward to the release and can’t wait to see what has been added to the game since I played. I’m also hoping that there will be online multiplayer. Crushing your friends is awesome, but crushing the hopes and dreams of a stranger gives me a reason to wake up in the morning. I’d really like to thank Eitan and the rest of Fire Hose Games for answering my questions, providing these screenshots, videos, and creating a game that looks like its going to be pretty awesome. You can expect Slam Bolt Scrappers sometime in early 2011. You can check out Fire Hose Games on their website, Twitter, and Facebook to keep up to date on new developments regarding Slam Bolt Scrappers.
The videos are displayed in 720p so if you are having trouble loading you may want to dial down the awesome to 360p.