Splody, by development studio Dashing Strike, is the latest Bomberman clone that has exploded its way onto the indie game circuit. Created specifically for PC and accessible through Steam, the development of Splody is thanks to the founder and owner of Dashing Strike, Jimb Esser.
Jimb, who has worked developing online multiplayer games since 2003, has been the brains behind games such as City of Heroes, Star Trek Online and Neverwinter Online therefore is no novice when it comes to the online genre. As a child I loved Bomberman so I was very interested to have a play on Splody to see how it stacked up!
For anyone, dare I say it, that has never seen a Bomberman style game before (don’t make me feel old!) this is how it works. Move fast, drop bombs, collect powerups, kill or be killed!
Splody features both a local and online mode allowing anything from 4 to 20 players at one time and a good variety of settings to create the match type that you desire to play. When Thumb Culture asked Jimb about his reason for creating a Bomberman clone supporting so many players, this was his response.
“I’m a big fan of “couch competitive” games, any excuse to get a bunch of friends into one room laughing, shouting at each other, playing games. But, there are few of these kinds of games that support more than 4 players, let alone 10 or more, so Splody was originally born as a weekend hobby project to fill that void for my gaming group.”
Being a father with 3 sons, the idea of couch competitive games is something that resonates with myself as many of our games centre around the principle that we can all play together as a family and have lots of fun. It is certainly a fresh concept to push the boundary and allow more than 4 players locally.
Splody’s game options include the traditional free for all mode or a team mode along with series options whereby you can select map size, last man standing and mount control, the later objective being to ride a dino until you have reached a set amount of points. For the ambitious of you there is even a level design editor!
Once you have made your choices its game on!
Splody has a clever character selection screen (seen above) whereby you walk through the character you would like to be, then walk the character through the relevant colours before finally waiting on the right hand side of the screen for the game to begin. As simple as it may look, I enjoyed the interactivity of this part as you could see each player going about their selections.
Once the countdown has finished you find yourself on a map, dependent of your selection. You have just a few seconds to see where you are starting on the screen and then boom! you’re off. Dropping a bomb, hiding around the corner and then returning to collect your powerup is the initial goal. With each crate/barrel destroyed, you hope to reveal an extra bomb, longer flame or the ability to kick bombs, remotely detonate a bomb or move faster. I had fun frantically trying to boost my character so that I could deal more damage before I finally broke through to where the other players were.
To keep you on your toes there are some nasty powerups that poison you and slow you down however my favourite drop was the dino egg which sat you astride a dinosaur, allowing you to move faster and also give you an extra life (unheard of in a bomberman game but very useful!). The dino is also the key objective for winning the mounted games.
Maps are varied with different scenery and sizes. Each map has its own twist or level modifier such as conveyor belts that transport bombs around the map or pipes to crawl through to a different section. For the more chaotic of you there are also teleporters and a darkness mod that adds extra fun to each map. If Splody wasn’t manic enough, keeping an eye on all the 4-20 characters certainly needs your wits about you as an attack can come from any direction and it only takes one ill fated step to reduce your character into a pile of ash.
Graphics and Audio
The gameplay is very smooth, especially when the screen is literally blowing up all around you. Colours are bright and draw your attention to every explosion that happens, making it tricky at times to maintain your concentration. The graphics are similar to arcade games of the 90s twinned with a hint of anime. I’m unsure whether the characters fit into the style of the arena graphics, I can’t put my finger on it but something doesn’t look quite right. That said, the soundtrack is tidy and the sound effects are nice and varied, I especially liked the random shout of “hi mum!” that came from my character every so often.
I could see Splody being a hit at home with friends and families, or even online within a large office as it makes for a quick, fun, break time treat. I’d love a few matches to let off some steam and destroy the guy in the sales office that has been annoying me all morning, however for me I found myself getting a little frustrated as the gameplay was insanely fast to keep up with. I got a little dismayed at the fact that once you had died you could control a target reticule that could place bombs around the arena in an attempt to bring an unsuspecting adversary to an end. At first it was funny, but then my competitive side started to get annoyed that all the while I was concentrating on blowing up an enemy character and being cautious as to where I hid while bombs were detonating, I was infact setting myself up to be destroyed by a phantom bomber.
Overall Splody is fun at first however for me it is not quite up there with Bomberman. Level modifiers and customisation of maps give the game a little more time to play but like my character’s duration on the arena floor, it is short lived. On the flip side of that, add pizza, beer and a host of gaming friends and it could make for a competitive evening of explosive fun.
I award Splody a Thumb Culture Bronze Award