Cute cartoon creatures; simplistic shooting; a mixture of mini-games. Wicked Monsters Blast is a kids game by-the-numbers, but its charm and heavy nods towards arcade classics such as Point Blank could have youngsters going crackers for these animals despite a slim number of levels.
Wicked Monsters Blast is easy to pick up, with scant few concepts to remember. Racing against the clock, you fire upon things at a rate that has potential to sprain your B button-jamming index finger, occasionally grazing a thumb over A to activate an item in multiplayer. By simplifying gameplay to this degree, developer Corecell is able to focus on challenge.
For the most part it’s entertaining, with the possibility of mild confusion for young children only arising in a game that requires knowledge of the ≠ symbol. Otherwise Wicked Monsters Blast is fairly straight-shooting, with comical levels that involve unloading ammunition into walls of bottles, dispatching rockets fired by well-armed militant birds of prey and feeding greedy, fussy whales by knocking dishes from a sushi restaurant conveyor belt.
Each mini-game comes with a puntastic title lifted without discrimination from popular culture: Dime Crisis takes direct aim at Namco for a shoot-out stage starring some burglarising bulls, while the WarioWare-like sculpting game Craft Wreck looks to German electronica for its moniker.
There isn’t a whole lot to see, though, which puts a real dent in the package: just 12 games are in the firing line. These levels have each been cleverly put together to prevent fatigue — many of the assets, from the backgrounds to objects, switch around each time — but there's only so much that can be done with such a limited selection, no matter what their quality. There's only enough here to see a single player through a few hours at most.
High scores would normally bring in a degree of replayability, but they’re only recorded in one of the three modes on offer. Once unlocked, the single player Survival continues to throw stages out until one is failed, upon which time it’s more than happy to log ranks in a locally-stored table; there’s no online functionality here.
Any significant return value is found in the modes designed for up to four players, Arcade and Family. Arcade sends you hurtling through a number of game-selected missions, presented in random order, with three lives to your name. Miss a stage’s points target and bye-bye goes a life. The friendlier Family omits lives and allows the selection of one to seven levels of your choosing, via a balloon-bursting interface that should have been a mini-game in itself.
While each of these modes is available for solo gunslingers, multiplayer is where Wicked Monsters Blast really comes to life. With duelling cursors pit against one another the already frantic screen becomes positively chaotic, every point mattering and fought over, whether it’s to keep hold of a precious life or good old pride. Items, collected from gift boxes that appear at random, add to the mayhem. Bombs are lobbed around like hot potatoes with a flick of the Wii Remote, opponents’ guns are jammed, reticules temporarily vanish and infuriated, competitive roars fill the room.
Though Wicked Monsters Blast captures the feel of titles such as Point Blank well, unfortunately the lack of content blows it apart. What’s there is of good quality and presented in appealing fashion but, unless you have a regular stream of people ever-ready show off their multiplayer skills, there simply isn’t enough of it.