A GEARVR RETRO REVIEW
*Retro Reviews Discuss Games & Experiences that were Created Before November 21st, 2015 when the Consumer Edition 1 was Officially Released.
BombSquad VR is a frenetic, high-paced-action game from Eric Froemling, a computer-graphics and programming genius living in San Fransisco. You throw various types of bombs at your enemies and watch them get flung rag-doll style through the air over the edge of the cliff wailing as they go. It’s so funny!
You do your best to snare your enemies in your traps while not getting yourself blown to bits in the process. It’s very challenging game, I only wish I could speak to the Multiplayer Modes more, because it has a lot of modes, almost every-known variant ever created since the beginning of gaming.
I live in China and it’s a bit hard to find people to game with, when most people here have never heard of VR before, let alone this game. I know that this must be so much more fun when you’re pitted against real people not just computer-generated bots.
This is the kind of gameplay that can make for the most frustrating, yet exciting, multiplayer experiences out there. But just in case you also don’t know anyone else with this game, the single-player campaign is really well done, too.
The first time I played this was in the demo version about a year ago. At that time, I wasn’t writing articles about GearVR games yet. That means I wasn’t trying my best to pay attention to the whole game like I do now.
Back then, I got immediately sucked into the funny and wild action of this game. I really enjoyed the hilarious explosions and cute voices of the characters with their inane babbling. I couldn’t put it down.
I ended up sitting there for about 4 hours playing the demo until I reached a level that was really hard and I couldn’t go on. I played it about three more days and never could beat that level, so finally I gave up.
But the experience was amazing just the same and I realized lately I’d never given the full game a chance. So today I got it and found this title now has so much more than before.
There is single-player Coop Mode (which allows 1-4 players), a “Teams“-Multiplayer Mode for 2-8 players, and finally a “Free-For-All” Mode for .?. you guessed it: 2-8 players. And all of these types offer different challenges, different rules and situations, and varying goals … all that keep the game fresh and interesting.
This game is not only visually-stunning and fun, but I feel it could also serve as Eric’s Resume, demonstrating what he is capable of, which–apparently–is quite a lot.
DEEP MENU SYSTEM:
Any developers looking to make their game’s “menus and interface” screens look awesome, with an even-more incredible level of functionality, should contact Eric at once. I say this because I spent just as much time marveling over the menus and options screens as I did enjoying the insane gameplay again, which was just as fun the second time around.
You can adjust many many Settings for this game’s Graphics, Audio, and Game Controllers; also, you can set up Player Profiles, do some VR Testing (to tweak your VR experience), and also run GPU/CPU benchmarks to compare your phone against the mean average of other phones out there. The list of cool features in this huge stack includes:
In Audio Settings, you can enable Positionally-Tracked Audio (with headphones in).
In Audio Settings, you can select your own musical “Soundtracks” to play.
In Controller Settings, you can assign an iPad/iPhone/Android device as your gamepad by downloading an app called “BombSquad Remote” in case you don’t have a controller yet for your GearVR. This will at least let the game be played, which it won’t without a gamepad.
In Graphics Settings, you can enable “High Texture” level for the best graphics. The game is future proofed, too. When your CPU can handle it, extra graphics levels are ready to get ramped up. My S6 can’t do it (it sets to Medium)… High & Ultra High are grayed out.
In the Advanced Settings, you can enable Kid-Friendly mode to reduce the violence.
In the Advanced Settings, there are 19 language options, including “Gibberish” haha.
If all of that isn’t enough, there is a “Watch” feature on the Main Screen which lets you go back and view the last match you completed playing. So all of you and your friends can have more laughs if something incredible happened and someone missed it.
This is a really classy feature (almost over the top) to offer in a VR title. To date, no game has come as polished menu-and-options wise with as much style just in how it presents itself beyond the mere game play itself.
You usually see this level of detail in AAA titles by major companies who have the time, talent, extra coders, and money to afford to put so much into the parts that aren’t even the game play itself. So Kudos to Eric for making something that goes above and beyond the call of duty at this early stage for VR.
True, he had already developed this game for Android phones, so making a VR port wasn’t that much extra work, but it’s still nice to see VR getting all these extra goodies for once.
The stereoscopic depth in this game is just good enough to notice it. In almost all of the screens and loading screens, the 3D depth is felt. However, the stereo depth really is almost an after thought here, because it was added for the VR version during the port.
The game wasn’t designed from the ground up for VR, so the depth is just above minimal and it doesn’t offer that much beyond the 2D which the iPad/iPhone versions use. You can turn your head around 360, but beyond about 200 degrees in front of your face, there’s nothing much to see but clouds.
It would have been cool if Eric would have added a few hanging vines or chains around the play area and get some of the baddies (trying to evade getting blown up) to grab those and swing outside the tower, around toward the user’s face (really close in 3D) and then swing back in from the front to try to dive-bomb your player character.
Or if some of the bombs would get launched by the enemies (who kick them really hard) right at the user’s face, exploding really close to you in 3D. If Eric could have added a few more stereoscopic events that would play to the VR nature more, I think this would have shown he cared about Presence (and VR) much more.
This is really the only “let down” of the game here, which is essentially nearly perfect as a multi-user sports event that you can bring all of your friends/family to play together with you.
STORE (MICRO PURCHASES):
If you like the game and feel it’s worth it to spend a few bucks more, the in-game Store will let you add some interesting things to the game.
This is especially good if you have a lot of friends who liked this too and you’ve already over-played all of the levels that came with the initial purchase. So if you need to, with a bit more cash, you can keep the fun going in a few additional ways:
- Characters: Bones (a Skeleton), Bernard (the Bear), & Frosty (you know, the Snowman?)
- New Levels: Ninja Fight, Meteor Shower, & Target Practice.
- New Maps: Lake Frigid (looks pretty cool!)
- BombSquad Pro: Unlocks Infinite Onslaught, Doubles Tickets, & Removes Ads.
If you are looking for a multiplayer game that lets up to 8 people you know connect for some crazy goings on … and if you want to be able to do so from almost any phone or ipad plus GearVR, then this is the game for you.
It has insane gameplay, a fun look, tons of levels (with options to buy more), plus you can watch any battle you’ve finished again to share a laugh over the funny things that occurred during your match.
You can connect with people over the internet, over local LAN, and over Wi-Fi in the same room: the options are nearly endless. This a developer who seriously wants to connect a lot of people in every way possible, and then give them a ton of ways to play, too.
If you don’t like to bomb your friends and family (as I do haha), then you can just Cooperate as a team. Be team players mopping up wave after wave of stupid baddies who shout inane gibberish (falling to their death) that always makes you laugh. And that’s pretty special if you’re in the same room with the friends playing this, as hearing their laughter makes it all worth it.
GAMING HISTORY LESSON:
A long time ago (many of you may not know this, but) there was a really cool game. It was one of the first (and only) Coop-games ever made for Sony Playstation. It was called Dark-Light Conflict, a sci-fi space shooter with awesome graphics for that era. And the way it worked was you had to have TWO Playstations in the same room (linked by a special cable) and two TV’s.
This would allow you to play an amazing Coop Mode with one friend to scour the Galaxy for enemies you could lay waste to as fighter pilots. So one day, we gathered about 8 people over some pizzas, 6 of whom would just sit and watch the TV’s of both team-mates and laugh over the craziness happening before them on the screen(s).
Then we’d switch and let two more on and take turns that way. It was a legendary game to us after that day because of the level of shared camaraderie, because of being our first-ever multiplayer experience. I never stop thinking back to the good time we all shared. It was the one the greatest gaming nights in my life… because of the shared friendship. And it was the thoughtful developers having included such a feature that made this even possible.
Today, we can celebrate Eric Froemling … for coding the heck out of this game to let us connect with others with such variety. And from them, get that shared laughter you will carry with you … a lifetime.
This game has no bad motion effects, so I rate this as … comfortable for all.
*Without Presence scoring into the mix, the game would rate: 8.5 … much higher.
Categories: Retro Reviews