Slam Bolt Scrappers actually released yesterday on the Playstation Network, but if you’re anything like I was you may not understand what the game is really all about. You see, I knew enough about Slam Bolt Scrappers to understand that it was a puzzler with a unique twist, but I hadn’t been following the game closely. Our esteemed leader, Jarret, had mainly been the one providing coverage on Slam Bolt for the site, and I had been too busy with other things to keep up with it. I had interest in the game, but the sort of ‘I’ll try it out when they release the demo’ interest that many gamers would be familiar with.
This past weekend at PAX gave me the unique opportunity to satisfy that interest, as Fire Hose Games was present on the show floor demoing Slam Bolt Scrappers just days before its release! I got my chance to play in the last hands-on of Saturday evening after being encouraged to step up and take part by a wonderful young woman helping out at the booth (I unfortunately didn’t get her name). I picked up a controller and found myself at a character select screen getting ready to enter a two versus two team match with three other PAX-goers. There were 4 characters available in the demo, and each character had different helmets and hats available to wear to give them a different look. The young woman told me to “think of it as a mix of Super Smash Bros. with Tetris”, as a way of giving me a quick and dirty explanation to prepare me.
The description was pretty accurate, and as soon as all the characters were selected we were starting the match. What happened at that point was insanity at first; monsters of different colors fly on screen, and you float your character around punching them until they explode into various-shaped blocks that you use to build with. As you build squares of four or more blocks of the same color, you actually create weapons that attack your opponents blocks and blow them up. The ultimate goal being that you lay waste to anything your opponent builds on their side and then stand cackling on the ashes of their failure. (That last part is optional, but great fun.)
The beatings aren’t limited to the block monsters though, because you can attack (and be attacked by!) your opponents directly. In team matches especially this adds another layer of strategy to the game. Maybe you’ll choose to team up with your partner to slow down an opponent who’s building up a bit quicker than you like, perhaps one person on your squad will focus on building while the other plays enforcer; handing out punishment to the other team or running interference on anyone who comes to your side. There’s a lot of possibilities for tactics in the game. Knocking out your opponent is only a temporary solution though, as a character’s life bar starts filling back up as soon as they’re knocked out. If you find yourself knocked out you can participate in a little button matching mini-game to get yourself back in the action quicker. You can also consume bricks you don’t need in order to recover a little health.
There are also power-ups that you can obtain that can help swing the game in your favor. The two I experienced were a power-up that gave your character a high-speed flaming dash that did a lot of damage and could quickly knock out both opposing players, giving you a few precious moments to build uninterrupted. The other power gave a character the ability to fly to the opposing team’s side and steal bricks from them, which given the point of the game has obvious benefits. With each layer of the game going on at the same time it can be a bit confusing at first – which is why it was insanity starting out (especially when you have the guys and gals from Fire Hose all around you shouting encouragement and advice and being rather excited) – but it doesn’t take long to get a grasp on game play as you battle it out.
Matches turn into a fast-paced and tactical tug of war that will have you frantically building and fighting until the last block is destroyed. As I mentioned earlier, Slam Bolt Scrappers released on PSN on March 15th and also currently has a demo available. The full game will have a variety of modes available in addition to the team battle I got to spend time with, in addition to a ton of unlockables and even huge bosses to battle. If you still have questions about whether you’ll like Slam Bolt, then definitely download the demo. As for me, my copy of Slam Bolt Scrappers just finished installing, so I’m gonna go get slamming.