Published on June 9th, 2015 | by Lee Davies
Review: FullBlast (Wii U)
Format reviewed: Wii U eShop
Other formats available: iOS, Android
Developer: UFO Crash Games
Publisher: EnjoyUp Games
Website: Official Website
Many have tried and failed… It seemed that the war against these things would be a cakewalk, but this is taking more than expected – humanity needs you! You’re our last hero! FullBlast is a fast-paced action shoot-‘em up. Now go and save the Earth through 12 levels full of aliens.
This heavily clichéd and simple story is told via on-screen text boxes of banter between the hero pilots and their ground-based Commander, with the occasional enemy Boss chiding you of your eventual demise at their hands/tentacles.
The play screen resembles an SNES Virtual Console title. The borders located on the left and right make the play area seem tight at first, but this becomes unnoticeable very soon into the game itself. Within each border the information of one of the 2-players co-op game is housed. Player 1’s status on the left and 2 on the right. Each can see at a quick glance their health status, number of lives remaining, number of Mega Bombs unused, and their score. It is in the local 2-player co-op mode that FullBlast is at its best. With the second player in tow, more enemies and their attacking blasts appear on the screen adding to the already frenetic gameplay. Both co-op players are easily distinguished from each other by their bright colour differentiation and only when not concentrating does confusion of which ship you are controlling ensue. However, there is a complete lack of a drop-in/drop-out co-op mode. If a second player wishes to join you, then you’ll find yourself having to back out to the main menu and start all over again.
Shooting is matter of pressing the A button, hold it down for a continuous stream of vertically ascending rapid fire. There’s no twin stick shenanigans happening here. Movement via the Analogue Stick is precise and tight. Your fighter jet moves exactly where you expect it to at all times. Power ups range from Extra Lives, additional Mega Bombs, Fast Fire, Shields, x2 Score, and weapon upgrades. Weapon upgrades are where you’ll have to be careful before picking up. There are 2 different types on offer. One fires a thin tightly-packed volley of shots that upgrades from the one stream to a maximum of 4 bullets width with added homing missiles. The second flares out the outermost bullets at a wider angle and can be upgraded to be more powerful with homing missiles thrown in for good measure. Both power ups look similar. Pick up the wrong one and your weapon will reset to the beginning of its upgrade arc.
Visually FullBlast seems like a halfway house of cartoon and serious action shooter. Resembling pixel based vertical shoot-‘em ups of the past, but with fully rendered 3D polygonal models. Touches and little details please throughout the campaign, like the way when enemies explode there are added comic book phrases, such as ‘BOOM!’, etc. You’ll find yourself flying over cityscapes populated with moving traffic below your fighter jet, apocalyptic cities, jungles with moving friendly tanks and artillery, and arctic oceans with moving ships. This is all incidental window dressing and all the parts of each landscape repeat often and you’ll notice the same set of skyscrapers, an identical river tributary, or an exact replica iceberg formation many times over, but that will not detract from the overall experience as all your attention will be focused on what happens in the air. Take your eyes off of the action for 1 second and there’s going to be trouble.
For the most part of the game you’ll be vertically scrolling up on a never ending blast-a-thon, but there are a few different sections worth mentioning. The Boss fights tend to place you statically opposed to the Boss whose movement fills the screen. Dodging the Boss and its projectiles is no mean feat, but you‘ll get the hang of it pretty soon as many Boss fights are repeated throughout the campaign. The few parts of the game that do feel completely different are sub-boss sections where the whole screen rotates around a central axis as you destroy the enemy positioned in the center of the rotation, normally a heavily fortified gun emplacement with shield towers that need to be vanquished before damage to the Boss can occur.
Whether playing FullBlast on your TV or Off-TV on the GamePad, the whole game runs incredibly smooth. At times the playing screen is packed with enemy ships, that resemble insects, hundreds of their blue projectiles, incidental moving backgrounds such as cars, tanks, ships and the like, 2 players in a co-op mission, tens of their retaliatory fire, and then a Mega Bomb exploding that fills the screen with numerous explosions, and not a single hint of slowdown was in evidence throughout my whole play time.
FullBlast boasts a Heavy Metal soundtrack. It certainly rocks and suits the tone of Humanity‘s last stand against the Alien menace, but it’s just the one tune played throughout the whole game. There’s no variety to the background music, but this is not much of issue. The music goes by unnoticed, FullBlast is just that type of game.
With 5 limited achievements to unlock, and online leader boards you can challenge your friends to a tournament of sorts, check out who’s the best in the World, Top 5 of your friends, and your Worldwide ranking in the 3 Leaderboards that are separated by Game Difficulty. FullBlast can be played on one of three difficulty settings, Easy, Normal and Hard. Easy will allow most people to see the end credits through completion of all 12 Areas. Normal will be challenging to most. While Hard is just a test of reflexes and hard-core intent, the amount of enemy fire on offer in the later levels has to be seen to be believed. There is a lack of content, but the core gameplay is good enough to have you coming back to this shoot-’em up many times over due to its pick-up and play nature.
Summary: A solid shoot-’em up is on offer for fans of the genre. Colourful cell-shaded style 3D models fly by smoothly with no hint of slowdown in the game engine regardless of amount of particles on screen. Tight controls and a challenging Normal mode round off an excellent 2-player co-op experience. Lack of content and endlessly repeating enemy waves, incidental backgrounds and Bosses are the only downsides in the package.