(3DS eShop)

Bomb Monkey (3DS eShop)

Game Review

Bomb Monkey Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Enough bang for your buck?

Welcome to Bomb Monkey, which does in fact feature both bombs and a monkey. Whew, that's a relief! Now that we no longer have to worry about false advertising, we can talk about the game itself.

As any screenshot will suggest, Bomb Monkey is a colour-based puzzle game. You hold your 3DS book-style, and use either the D-pad or circle pad to control the action. Touch screen controls are also available, but they're nowhere near as responsive as the button controls, and we're fine with that; Bomb Monkey is old-school puzzle action to the core, and its controls follow suit.

You're mainly in control of the titular explosive simian, moving him left and right, and pressing down to drop whatever he's carrying. Pressing up, however, will speed up the groundswell of blocks that threaten our hero — a feature that may seem unnecessary but is quite welcome considering their typically glacial pace.

The monkey will drop either blocks or a bomb, both of which come in two types. With coloured blocks, your goal is to arrange them so that they're contiguous, as a blast will destroy all blocks of the same colour that are touching. With explosive boxes, you'll want to arrange them so that they do the most damage, as a bomb dropped onto them will trigger a massive explosion either vertically or horizontally, depending upon the direction indicated.

The bombs are a bit more straightforward. A normal explosive can be held by the monkey indefinitely, and will destroy the blocks around it in a plus shape: up, down, left and right. A time bomb, however, is more powerful, with a larger blast radius. It also explodes if the monkey holds it for too long, preventing him from dropping anything else until he recovers.

There're also locks that appear on the coloured blocks at random. A normal bomb will knock the lock off, leaving the block behind to be destroyed later, whereas a time bomb will destroy the block outright. Locks can also interrupt the chains you've set into motion, so it's a good idea to get rid of them quickly.

That's pretty much Bomb Monkey. The endless mode keeps the blocks coming endlessly — as you might have guessed — and is the main single player attraction. All of the other modes are slight variations on this one, such as a three minute score attack mode, a Numbers mode that requires you to blow up certain blocks in numerical sequence, and Rescue mode, which finds you bombing a cage in order to free your monkey friend in the middle of the normal block-blasting chaos. The latter two modes add a minor puzzle element to the game, and it's nice to have them.

The real draw here, though, is multiplayer. Bomb Monkey requires two players to share the same system, with player two using the face buttons as a D-pad. The proximity required to pull this off makes it a true head-to-head match, and it's a lot of fun. You can either face each other competitively, dropping extra blocks on each other Dr. Mario style when you score a chain, or cooperatively, combining your talents to earn a larger score. Needless to say, the competitive mode is far more exciting, but they're both great features.

Unfortunately we do have some reservations, which really hold it back from its potential. For starters, the touch screen must be used to select a mode. Why you can't use the D-pad to navigate the menu is beyond us, and it's quite irritating as you need to dig out the stylus just to tap a game mode, and then quickly stick it away before the game begins.

The random nature of the game also works against it at times, as you're far too frequently stuck with no way out of dire situations. Dr. Mario and Tetris can both leave you stranded without the piece you're waiting for as well, but at least in those cases you can use the pieces you are given to do something constructive in the meantime. Here, the only thing that can clear blocks is a bomb. If you don't get a bomb, you can't win, and you just have to watch the blocks creep slowly up to kill you. That's a frustratingly banal way to end an otherwise exciting Endless session.

Our most serious issue is a much bigger problem, though: for a game whose main reason for existing is score attack, it sure doesn't seem interested in score keeping. Every mode remembers the highest score, but that's it. Believe us, we're far from expecting every game to have online leaderboards, but even a top five per mode would have been better than this. There's also no way to enter your initials in order to 'claim' a score, which severely impedes on bragging rights when playing the game with friends.

Perhaps worst of all, the game doesn't even make it clear to you that you achieved the high score. There's no notification, and no way of knowing unless you memorize your score and then check the main menu to see if that's what's displayed. This is particularly egregious when you realize that the upper screen goes entirely unused throughout all single player modes. Okay, yes, it displays a dancing monkey, but it would have been much nicer if it included, at least, the current top score so that you could see how close you are to beating it. Instead every round feels like its own experience, which isn't inherently bad, but prevents the game from reaching its full competitive, urgent potential.

Presentation-wise, though, Bomb Monkey is lovely. The artwork is beautiful, the sound cheery and appropriate, and the button controls couldn't be tighter. And for your required dose of Renegade Kid shenanigans, be sure to check out the manual. It's more fun than helpful, and it'd be a shame if you missed it.

Conclusion

As a harmless time-waster, you could do far worse than Bomb Monkey. There are some relatively minor concerns, but the big one for us is the way the game handles its record keeping, which is rather disappointing for a score attack game. Bomb Monkey's nothing truly explosive, but it's certainly no dud. It's a charming addition to the eShop, but with just a few tweaks it could have been much more satisfying.

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User Comments (40)

BenAV

#1

BenAV said:

Tough one.
Not sure if I'll get it or not, probably depends how many other games I have to play at the time when it eventually gets a PAL release.
Disappointing that it didn't turn out a bit better.

Provider

#3

Provider said:

It sounds a lot like Piyotama (PS3/PSP), I love that game. Maybe I'll give this one a try.

C-Olimar

#4

C-Olimar said:

For $5, in 2012, there's no excuse for this not to have online leaderboards. Lazy.

Flowerlark

#5

Flowerlark said:

Hmmm, not a big fan of score attack games except for Tetris and Bird Mania. I think I'll pass since this one doesn't really sound exceptional. The lack of decent score records is stupid. Even the $2 Bird Mania had an excellent high score system.

photofool83

#6

photofool83 said:

I agree with some of the minor complaints, like not being able to choose your game mode without the stylist. But, seriously, this game is a blast to play. Don't focus on the very small drawbacks for what really is an excellent game. It's only 5 bucks people. This game is way beyond worth it. Think of the high-quality you found in Mutant Mudds, that's the same you'll find here.

mr_chun

#9

mr_chun said:

Totally agree about the score-keeping. Jools has a makeshift leaderboard up on the official Bomb Monkey site, but it still stings a bit.

However, the game is really addicting and one of my favorite action puzzle games ever. I put it right up there with Tetris and Puyo in terms of gameplay.

Knuckles

#12

Knuckles said:

@NintendoMaster I doubt it. Renegade Kid is still working on ATV Wild Racing 3D[SWare], and they have said they wanted to tackle an FPS for the eShop. [via Nintendo Power, Issue 278, pg 32-33]

Kagamine

#13

Kagamine said:

Well I downloaded it and I'm not impressed at all. First mutant mudds let's me down and now this. Renegade Kid needs t learn how to price their games better, this should be 1.99 to 2.99 in my mind. Five bucks is asking to much, mutant mudds was too expensive also. Unless their next game is amazing, I won't be buying, I've been disappointed by them twice now, won't let it be a third.

LittleKing

#15

LittleKing said:

The fact that you can go without a bomb until you die seems to be pretty frustrating. I think that was the appeal of Tetris and Dr. Mario; no matter what you're given you can do SOMETHING with it, and avert a game over. That's the problem with separating the functionality of pieces, I guess.

Should've put a simple counter for how many non-bombs you've been given in a row and force a bomb after too many. Or, instead of randomly select pieces, why not pick a random number between 1-4 and let that be the amount of nonbomb pieces the monkey will get before his next bomb? Hell, then you could display a number so the player could plan ahead, along with the current/high score on the other screen. "Next Bomb In: 3 Pieces," etc.

Also, the inability to see your (high)score midround puts me off. Who doesn't want to see how well they're doing and compare it to their best?

Goes to show how much little things can matter.

motang

#17

motang said:

It is a fun game and I like it, though I do wish it had a leader board. That would have been great.

King_Boo

#18

King_Boo said:

the repetitiveness of the music started to bug me once I got going. Also the special bomb letters are way off balance, you might get 5 B's before you ever see an M or O.

RR529

#19

RR529 said:

Never been much of a puzzle guy, so I probably wasn't going to be picking this up anyways, but this review confirms it (not that it's bad, but since I'm not too into puzzlers, one would really have to be exceptional for me to consider it).

Squiggle55

#20

Squiggle55 said:

a well implemented leaderboard is vital for a puzzle game for me. It drives me crazy that treasures of montezuma on the vita wipes your scores clean every week and doesn't keep track of your high score. That is literally the only point to a puzzle game for me personally.

Candido0411

#21

Candido0411 said:

Fun game but lack of a online leaderboard of any kind is just depressing and no, the one on their web site doesn't count. Not even a mentioning of a new high score :/

Bazly

#23

Bazly said:

I have to say I'm pretty disappointed with most of what I'm reading here.

I do agree with one point: the menu is very annoying.

I think the issue of bombs not showing up frequently enough is just a matter of good planning. On one hand, luck is a bit of a factor, but at the same time, the only situations I've been in where I've been desperate for a bomb and haven't received one is in a situation where I've let one side of the board stack up with blocks, and I don't see how you can blame the game for that: if you manage well and strategize you can easily manage. I don't think I've ever actually had a time where I lost because I just kept getting blocks unfairly - generally it's due to a poorly placed bomb or missing a combo or arrow block when I should have hit it.

Also, I'm surprised that so many people feel there's no point to a puzzle game if there is no online leader board. I think the point to a puzzle game is to have fun. Does it really matter that much to you how you compare to other players?

9/10 for me - I don't care about leader boards, because a game is meant for having fun, and I think the issue of blocks needing to be detonated to remove them is part of the challenge of the game, not a mistake.

Guhin13

#24

Guhin13 said:

Hmm... I'm really on the fence about this now. On one hand, I'd really like a fun little puzzle game to play, and the book-style layout and ability to play two-player on one system has me very interested. On the other hand, the features it's lacking leave me wondering if it's worth the purchase. I'll probably end up getting it, but this review and what I've heard from other users have me second-guessing.

Odnetnin

#25

Odnetnin said:

Thanks for the honest review, Chicken. I was seriously hoping for this game to turn out even better than it did, but it might still be worth the buy just to support the future developers of Mutant Mudds 2. ;)

Marks

#26

Marks said:

Best headline ever. EVER.
I won't be getting this game, though. I don't find it appealing.

lanabanana

#27

lanabanana said:

Should I buy this game or wait for the upcoming virtual console games? I can't decide... I have $4.86 left on the eShop , i wanted to buy Super Mario Bros. but i couldn't cuz i needed a few cents... D:<

Squiggle55

#29

Squiggle55 said:

@Bazly I don't fault anyone who feels that way about puzzle games. I'm just speaking personally when I say that the leaderboard is the entire purpose for me. It doesn't necessarily have to be worldwide but it absolutely has to keep the top scores of my family and I. And it better have fireworks or something for me when I beat my score. =)

Bazly

#30

Bazly said:

@Squiggle55: Haha obviously I know you were speaking about your own personal opinion on the genre, I just find it odd that you would judge the "purpose" of a game to be anything other than to entertain. But I also realize that I don't in any way value leaderboards - they have pretty much always meant nothing to me. So it's probably best for us to agree to disagree :P.

Squiggle55

#31

Squiggle55 said:

The answer is that I find attempting to better my score and the scores of others as the entertainment.

Henmii

#35

Henmii said:

Only a 7? That's a pity! Though it could still be worth it!

Well, at least there is a new Mutant mudds coming!

Guhin13

#36

Guhin13 said:

Picked this up the other day. Though not as impressive as I'd hoped, it's still a decent little puzzle game. I do think it should be a little cheaper though.

supercommando440

#37

supercommando440 said:

Most developers will NEVER understand how/why leaderboards, user name entry (to CLAIM a high score), and stats are GAME SELL POINTS. SAD.

zipmonStaff

#38

zipmon said:

I'm having a lot of fun with this game lately, the 2-player co-op is such a great idea!

XCWarrior

#40

XCWarrior said:

Game is actually perma down to $3 for those who were on the fence for $5. I picked it up, its fun. I agree the only main gripe is the lack of more of a leaderboard.

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