(Wii)

BlastWorks (Wii)

Game Review

BlastWorks Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sean Aaron

There's a whole lot of blasting going on, but how does it all work?

User-generated content in games goes all the way back to titles like Bill Budge's Pinball Construction set on 8-bit home computers and first-person shooters like Doom and Quake, but it's not something that's ever really been prominent in console games due to both system storage limitations and the lack of internet connectivity for sharing of creations. More recently this has started to change with titles like Boom Blox Bash Party, Wii Music and BlastWorks on the Wii.

According to developer Budcat, BlastWorks is inspired by Kenta Cho's Tumiki Fighters, a freeware shooter that dispenses with the traditional power-up concept in favour of allowing your ship to collect defeated enemies and their guns to create a giant mish-mosh of a ship to do battle against bosses and the like.

The game includes 5 "campaigns" which are side-scrolling small-scale shooting games that end in a big boss; each complete with different visual themes, player ships and enemies. You can play these in series with 1-2 players or jump into Arcade Mode to have a bash at one with 1-4 players. Completing the series will unlock access to several games by Kenta Cho, including the original Tumiki Fighters.

Visually the game is quite pleasing with enemies composed of translucent shapes all of which have destructible bits that will fly off and can be attached to the player's ship by contacting it. These bits can absorb damage before they fall off and the player can withdraw them into their ship temporarily by holding a button to attempt to preserve them for the big boss battles. In addition to acting as shields the collected parts will also fire their own weapons to aid you in your battle through the teeming hordes of planes, tanks and sub-bosses. You'll need the help because the campaign levels become quite challenging with hordes of enemies and bullets flying about. Whilst at first the masses of parts you collect may make you feel invincible, by the 3rd campaign the fur is flying so thick that your ship will be lucky to have any extra parts left to fight the end boss with! The in-game controls work well with the Remote used NES-style on its side, however the game menus don't support use of the D-pad so you'll find yourself forced to use the pointer to scroll through options or connect a Nunchuk and use the control stick. It's a minor annoyance, but a strange oversight not to have everything outside of the editing suite (which requires Remote + Nunchuk) use the same Remote orientation.

The included content alone is pretty nice, but the core of the game is the collection of editors which were used by the team to create the included campaigns and bonus levels. The editing suite includes separate editors for shapes, player ships, enemy ships, bullets and levels. Whilst you cannot create literally anything you can imagine, it's quite flexible and offers a vast degree of freedom. Levels can have reflective water to fly over (and below), detailed backgrounds and huge bosses with animated parts. You can change the direction and speed of the scrolling background -- you're not limited to left-right side scrolling -- and can change scrolling direction in the middle of the level.

Everything created as a shape is available for use in the other editors, so the same parts used to create player ships can be used to create enemy ships or even background scenery. When you create your ship you can choose where your shots emanate from; the shots themselves can have a choice of dozens of sound effects and you can control the size and frequency of the bullets fired as well as the pattern. It can all be quite overwhelming and the controls are a bit obtuse, but there's help available online in the form of written and video tutorials.

BlastWorks is possibly the first 3rd party Wii game which has an online content delivery system unhampered by Nintendo's friend codes (they are present as an option for trading directly with friends) and without it the game would probably have been a footnote in the Wii game library. As it stands BlastWorks has quite an active community and whilst the PAL release came far behind the original North American launch, the result for PAL gamers is a massive library of user-created levels and parts ready to download via the BlastWorks Depot. Simply create an account and register your Wii code from your address book. Once this is done you can browse the content on the website and put things you like into your download basket. The next time you launch the game simply go into the online menu, choose the option to download from BlastWorks Depot and watch the progress bar display the size in kilobytes as your items are downloaded. You can download anything you can create: shapes, ships, enemies, bullets and levels, and you can upload the same for others to use. It's gratifying to see that EA has adopted a similar approach to content sharing in Boom Blox Bash Party and hopefully we'll see similar support for user-generated content in other games on the Wii in the future.

The only significantly negative aspect of the game, outside of the complexity of the included editing suite, is the size of the save file. There's so much online content that you cannot possibly download all of it; if you're a prolific creator you'll either have to juggle save backups on separate SD cards or simply upload your creations and download them from the depot later. To the developer's credit BlastWorks has one of the largest save files of any Wii game at 127 blocks, but the included base library content uses up nearly 1/3rd of that to start with (though most of this can be deleted if desired). It's enough to have several medium-sized levels and many ships and parts, but it's a shame that the developers were either unwilling (or unable) to leverage SD card storage rather than having this fixed storage limit hamper dedicated fans.

Even if you're not inclined to create your own material there's enough stuff already available to download that you can always find something new to play and the included levels and user generated content can be played with one of three levels of difficulty for added challenge. There are several stand-out creators at the BlastWorks Depot which show what can be achieved with a bit of creativity and investment of time that will hopefully inspire additional contributors in future.

Conclusion

BlastWorks provides a good amount of shooting action out of the box, but the ability to create your own designs and easily share them with others is what really makes this title shine. Thanks to Budcat and Majesco for delivering a stand-out title for the Wii that all shooter fans and would-be game designers would be advised to check out.

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User Comments (31)

y2josh

#2

y2josh said:

I was really close to buying this the other day. I may do it now. Thanks for the helpful review, Sean! ;)

Edit: On second thought, I've been meaning to get Little Big Planet. I think I'll get it instead. This game does look good though and is only 20 dollars at Gamestop

KDR_11k

#3

KDR_11k said:

Another review that overrates Blastworks because of the user generated content?

The main game is arse, a real mess. The creation mode is awfully restricted with basic concepts like POWERUPS missing and requiring nasty workarounds to implement. You can unlock Tumiki Fighters by beating BW and when you do you'll notice just how much better TF is in every respect than BW and that TF does many things the BW engine is incapable of!

I think 128 blocks may be the hard limit on save file size, SSBB uses that exact number for its save file too for some reason (seriously, why the hell does SSBB need that much save space???).

Moai_Head

#4

Moai_Head said:

The PAL release is subtitled Build Fuse Destroy, not the NA release. Also, the game came out an April 3 of this year in Europe (not Australia, hence why Sean ended up reviewing this and not me, argh), not September 26 of last year.

DazzaAdmin

#5

Dazza said:

@Moai That's the last time I trust Amazon UK for release dates. I've tidied up the subtitle thing too, most UK retailers don't seem to include it so that's good enough for me!

Nice review Sean. I am going to have to track this one down now!

Sean_Aaron

#6

Sean_Aaron said:

I've not beaten all the campaigns yet, so sadly I've not had a chance to try the bonus content; the 3rd campaign is quite brutal and I cannot say I'm the greatest at shooters even if I do enjoy them.

It's true that there's no power-ups, but then that is part of the basic game design; in case folk are wondering the "stickiness" of parts can be turned on and off as desired when building a level; some folk have been rather creative in putting "power-ups" in the game by placing parts in strategic locations where they can be picked up with some creative shooting.

Clearly not everyone's cup of tea, but obviously I think it's a unique game on the Wii -- or indeed any system presently with a lovely aesthetic. If you want to see what's possible you can check out the Blast Works Depot via the links in the review and that should help with deciding if you want to have a go.

I've created a couple of pixellated Defender ships (search for Defender_1), but have yet to create my grand Defender tribute in full because I keep on buying other games. Someday it will all come together, I promise!

KDR_11k

#7

KDR_11k said:

I think the workarounds needed for "powerups" really ruin many design possibilities, especially forcing the player to make sure he picks the thing up angled in the right way.

Oh and let's not forget the idiocy of making player ships and levels separate instead of linking them since player ships behave very differently...

SwerdMurd

#8

SwerdMurd said:

btw, this game's inspiration (Tumiki Fighters) has been available for free online forever...it's actually in the Synaptic (sp?) Package Manager software that Ubuntu Linux uses for file management. Blast Works is a good game for sure, and the level creator rocks, but the originality is really what hurts it to me... the original Tumiki is unlockable in game btw...

How this slipped under Corbie's radar i'll never know...surprised to see Sean on the case...but fantastic review, even if my personal score differs slightly! :)

apocalypse217

#9

apocalypse217 said:

Hey this game does not interest me but I do not know how long BUT Amazon.com has it for 15.40 as of today for anyone interested in the game thought this would help ya save a few dollars

Hazuki

#11

Hazuki said:

overated game is overrated. Lots of DLC, sure, but the gameplay is such a mess its not worth it.

Knux

#12

Knux said:

I read this game in a video game magnazine,and it grabbed my intrest. Great review,Sean! I think I will buy this game soon!

@Corbie - I would like to hear your impressions on this game after you buy it. I would also like to see some of your creations if you made some levels!

KnucklesSonic8

#13

KnucklesSonic8 said:

It's a tad overrated, I agree Hazuki but it's still a decent if not good game. Review was pretty spot-on.

thewiirocks

#14

thewiirocks said:

It's a decent game, but KDR_11 is correct. Tumiki Fighters is a superior game, and it's free.

I don't think you can go wrong by getting Blastworks at its current price. You're certainly going to get quite a bit of game for your dollar. The catch is that it will wear thin rather quickly.

@KDR_11k - The save file in SSBB holds user-created stages in addition to saved game information.

ejamer

#15

ejamer said:

Wow, and here I thought the main game was fun and unique and worth playing on its own. Thanks for setting me straight guys! /sarcasm

I know that not everyone will love this title, and that's ok... but saying that the rating given in a review is too high just because your personal expectations weren't satisfied doesn't make sense. If you want to give a different opinion, then why not provide a review yourself?

I've seen this game selling for between $10 and $20 in North America, and at that price it's a steal. You get a tough but fun campaign mode, 4 great unlockable games (3 of which are completely different from the main game), the ability the create your own levels if you put in the work required, and a bunch of awesome downloadable content ready and waiting with no friend codes required? If unusual shmups appeal to you at all, then it's hard to go wrong with this title...

Hyper_Metal_Sonic

#16

Hyper_Metal_Sonic said:

I bought this game Day 1 in America almost over a year ago and I thought it was fantastic. Unfortunately I sold it during one of those "Trade 2 games" and get a selected game for $10. I did it because the price of the game had already dropped to $20 so I wanted to take advantage of Blast Work's relatively high trade in price, but now that it's so cheap I'd really like to go back to it. There is fun to be had, at least there was for me and that's all that matters to me.

Slapshot

#17

Slapshot said:

@ Hyper Metal Sonic.... I did the same thing. But I beat all the campaigns and played thru the unlockable games on the disc, but the editor was a little too confusing for me. Well actually I just dont like making games i like playing them. I still havent made a level on Mario Vs DK MOM.

Ricardo91

#18

Ricardo91 said:

I've thought about getting this, but I've always been too hesitant to do so. I'm more interested in Geometry Wars Galaxies. Maybe I'll just DL Tumiki Fighters instead.

XCWarrior

#20

XCWarrior said:

This is a fun game. Wish it had online leaderboards, and a bit better music. Otherwise, top notch game that is great especially if you got some buddies to play with.

Hyper_Metal_Sonic

#21

Hyper_Metal_Sonic said:

@Slapshot82
I beat all the levels on the first few difficulties, but then it got a little too challenging for me lol. I unlocked like 2 out of 4 unlockable games I believe. That's another reason I wanna go back to it, try to get the rest.

Kim_Jong-Il

#23

Kim_Jong-Il said:

@ Corbie
I got a US copy of this lying around that I never play.
Wanna swap it for something?

KDR_11k

#24

KDR_11k said:

n8: What do you mean with "all editing tools"? Are some locked by default?

Sean_Aaron

#25

Sean_Aaron said:

I'm determined to unlock stuff on my own, but the game is quite hard. Level three has everything and the kitchen sink flying at you and then you've gotta fight a boss that takes up half the screen!

Chatham

#26

Chatham said:

I gotta go pick this up. It's a steal for $20.

Amazing review Sean, we need to play The Conduti very soon...

pikku

#29

pikku said:

i enjoyed the campaign(even if i haven't beaten it yet), but the level editor was WAY too complex for me.

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