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BlastWorks Review

Written by Sean Aaron on Tuesday, 7 April 20094 Comments

Anyone remember Pinball Construction Set on the Atari 800/Apple II/C-64? Well, you must have heard of Little Big Planet on the PS3. Both of the games mentioned are built around the idea of users creating their own content. The games provide a few examples and the user community does the rest. Whilst Bill Budge’s Pinball Construction Set catered to video pinball fans and Little Big Planet is for people who like platform games, BlastWorks is a game where you roll your own shoot-em-up.

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

The game includes 5 “campaigns” which are basically side-scrolling small-scale shooting games that end in a 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 Tumiki Fighters.

Visually the game is quite pleasing with everything composed of translucent shapes which all have destructible bits that will fly off and can be attached to the player’s ship by contacting it. Thereafter other bits can be attached to each other. These bits can absorb damage before they fall off and the player can withdraw them into their ship by holding a button to preserve their collection temporarily. 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 giant bosses.

So the included content alone is pretty nice, but the core of the game is the editor which was used by the team to create the included campaigns and bonus levels. As you would expect it’s quite deep and includes separate editors for shapes, player ships, enemy ships, bullets and levels. Whilst you cannot do 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, so you’re not limited to left-right side scrolling, and can change directions in the middle of the level.

Everything gets put into a library that can be accessed elsewhere, so parts from player ships can be used to create enemy ships and vice-versa. 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, but don’t worry, there’s help available online.

BlastWorks is possibly the first 3rd party game which has an online content delivery system unhampered by Nintendo’s friend codes and without it the game would probably have been a footnote in the Wii game library. As it stands it has quite an active community and whilst the delay for the PAL release is regrettable the result is a massive library of user-created levels and parts to choose from and tutorials to help create your own 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 online and put things you like into your download basket.

The next time you launch the game you go into the online menu, choose to download from Blastworks Depot and you’ll see a progress bar with 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 is adopting a similar approach to content sharing in Boom Blox Party and hopefully we’ll see further support for user-generated content in other games on the Wii as a result.

The only hard limit is the size of the save and this is really the only negative aspect about the game. There’s so much content that you cannot possibly download all of it; if you’re a prolific creator you’ll either have to juggle save backups on SD cards or simply upload your creations and download them from the depot later. To the developer’s credit BlastWorks has the largest save file of any Wii game I’ve seen at 127 blocks, but the included base library content uses up nearly 1/3rd of that to start with. Still, it’s enough to have several medium-sized levels and many ships and parts.

Shooter fans really shouldn’t pass this up; 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 of course the included levels and user generated content can be played with one of three levels of difficulty. Finding the game could be a little tricky because distribution was handled by Eidos in the UK and they don’t seem to have arranged anything with GAME, so online shops or HMV are your best bet. Budcat and Majesco should be proud of this release as it’s a real stand-out title for the Wii. I only hope it will get the attention it deserves here in Europe.

4 Comments »

  • FooFan said:

    Ah, I remember reading about this a while ago and thought that it sounded really interesting!

    Any idea what kind of price range it will be selling at? If it was around the £15 mark I think I’d be very interested in picking this up as the potential is there for a great community-based game.

  • Sean Aaron (author) said:

    I got lucky and got it from Gameseek when they had a pre-order up for it when it had a Feb release date so that was £18.95 with postage. I think the best you can do now is £23.97 at zavvi, but it’s worth checking The Hut as well.

  • M_the_C said:

    The current best price is .

  • M_the_C said:

    Hmmm, oh well.

    £21.99 from Powerplay Direct.

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