Review: Bang Attack (WiiWare)

Will Engine Software’s WiiWare debut give you much bang for your buck?

Bang Attack is a puzzle game involving hammers, fruit and other random objects. The concept is very simple. Your screen is loaded with refilling objects: fruit on the first level, seaside objects on the second level, etc. To clear the objects from the screen you must “hammer them” by pointing at them and pressing the “A” button. By clearing the foreground objects you slowly clear background panels. Once the background panels are all gone you move onto the next stage. Complete ten stages to move onto the next level. Repeat, ad nauseam.

Fortunately, there are few twists to make the basic gameplay a tad more interesting. A multiplier mechanic is implemented that rewards you if you quickly and consistently clear the shapes without making a mistake. This is the “hook” that allows you to constantly improve on your high scores. There is also a power bar which gains in energy as you clear shapes, allowing you to make a swinging motion with the remote when full. This essentially clears the screen and thus gives you a whole new set of random shapes to work with.

The final gameplay mechanic is the ability to throw away shapes that are blocking combinations. To do this you point at the shape you want to remove, grab it with the “B” button and flick the remote. You are only allowed to do this once for every few shapes you clear so you’re encouraged to use it wisely (if at all). In practice you will probably not feel the need to remove shapes from the grid, as it is only worth doing when you cannot see an obvious cluster of shapes to clear. The flicking mechanic feels extremely cumbersome and we found that it tends to break the flow of the game.

Aside from being utterly generic, the main problem with Bang Attack is that there is no challenge. Even after playing for an extended period the player is never put under pressure to complete the level because there is no time limit or a threat of “Game Over” -- nothing! You just keep plodding along through the levels until you inevitably get bored, at which point you are provided with an option to “End Session” and that’s it. You lose the game when you’re ready to lose it.

The graphics are plain and colourful, with bright blue backgrounds and colourful items on top. The music is also chirpy and addictive but after a while it becomes particularly irritating. It all suits the mood of the game well but feels so hollow and basic. You could easily compare it to a web browser Flash game or something you get preinstalled on your mobile phone; while never particularly doing anything wrong it fails to ever capture the imagination.

Aside from the obligatory single player mode there is a multiplayer mode, which is essentially the single player mode with two people. The game keeps track on who has been earning the most points and congratulates the winner at the end before moving on.

Conclusion

For only 600 Wii points Bang Attack will hardly break the bank but by the same measure will only occupy you for a short time at best. With no online scoreboards, challenge or alternative modes, Bang Attack gives you the absolute bare minimum, and while its presentation is colourful and chirpy the core game mechanics are stale and dated. Without ever doing anything particularly wrong Bang Attack should only be considered by those who are puzzle fanatics looking to fill a 20 minute void in their day. Not very much bang for your buck! [groan -Ed]