Splody, a Bomberman-like multiplayer extravaganza, has just arrived on Steam. It comes from a small team called Dashing Strike. Despite limited resources, the developer has managed to capture an impressive amount of multiplayer Bomberman feel in this indie game. In fact, I found it to be much faster in play-style than the Konami titles that inspired it.
Unlike the Nintendo Switch launch Super Bomberman R, Splody doesn’t feature a campaign. It focuses solely on the competitive multiplayer mode. This multiplayer mode, always the chief draw of real Bomberman games, can be played against bots, in local multiplayer, and online multiplayer.
After either selecting matchmaking or joining a server from the main menu, you’ll enter the match waiting room. There you can pick and customize your avatar. Walking into the avatar choices designates your selection, after which you can walk through paint colors to customize your character. This non-menu-based customization is a fun little feature.
Becoming a demolitions expert
If you’ve played Bomberman before, the concept of Splody should be immediately familiar. You and your opponents populate a grid filled with two kinds of blocks. Soft blocks can be destroyed with bombs; hard blocks can’t. Said bombs explode out in a cross-shaped pattern, clearing paths and, hopefully, taking out a rival as well.
More likely than not, destroying an obstacle also procures a power-up. These have various effects, such as extending your bombs’ explosive range or allowing you to place multiple bombs at a time. My personal favorite of these is the ability to gain a dinosaur mount that allows you to survive an extra hit before being killed. Why a dinosaur? Because dinosaurs are awesome, that’s why.
Not all of these items are a good thing. One, the skull, gives a random disease to whoever picked it up and anyone that player touches. An example of these diseases is reversed controls – pressing up will make you go down, left makes you go right, etc. As someone who is pretty awful at competitive games in general, that effect proved an instant death sentence.
One thing that sticks out to me is the speed of the game. Characters fly around the map at a quicker pace than I was expecting, and matches only last a few minutes at most. It makes for a frenetic and chaotic experience. If you’re better than I am at these kinds of games, that’s probably a positive. Everyone I played with was far better than I, so clearly the pace of the matches is something one can adjust to over time.
Outside of the ridable dinos, one bomb blast is all it takes to kill a player. But once you get felled by a foe, you’re not always out of the game. With Orbital Bombers enabled, defeated players can move a cursor around the map and drop bombs into the field in order to take out surviving opponents. There’s a slight delay from when you place a bomb to when it gets placed, so it takes a bit of skill to successfully catch your rivals in an undead bomb attack.
Unfortunately, the sprites are one of my biggest problems with Splody. While they certainly bring a dose of character to the game, it can be difficult to tell just where your character’s hitbox begins and ends. This creates awkward moments in which you might misjudge whether your character is safe from blasts. I also ended up getting stuck a few times by my own bomb, thinking I was in one location, when in reality I was barely across the line in another.
With online, competitive multiplayer, performance is key. During our time with Splody, none of us at Good Enough Geek experienced issues with server performance or in-game slowdown. The online experience has been polished and responsive, allowing us to jump from one match to the next with ease. When you’re running around the map trying to survive, it’s crucial that the game runs smoothly, and Splody’s certainly got that down pat.
Playing online is as close as you can get to the classic Bomberman local multiplayer experience without being in the same room together. But if you crave that in-person bombing action, Splody won’t let you down. Whereas older Bomberman games supported anywhere from 4-10 players, this one supports “as many local players as you connect controllers.”
If you won the controller lottery and knew lots of gamers, you could squeeze 20 players or more into one game. Maps come in multiple sizes, so the larger ones should be able to handle hordes of competitors.
Sean’s Final Impression
Overall, Splody is a fun, fast multiplayer experience. While I have minor quibbles with the sprites and their hit detection, the matches are short enough and fun enough that accidental deaths here and there don’t spoil the fun. While this isn’t a game I would personally down for hours playing, it’ll definitely be great for playing a few quick matches with friends.
As a lifelong Bomberman fan, I was excited to come across Splody and learn that its primary developer is also a fan. To me, Bomberman games peaked with Saturn Bomberman way back in 96/97. There’ve been some strong Bomberman games since (I love Jetters and the Bomberman Land series), but not for a very long while. And without owning a Switch, Splody looked like my best chance at experiencing a new Bomberman-style game.
I’m pleased to report that this does feel a lot like the real thing. The movement, the speed, the items – all spot-on or close to it. Bomb throwing is missed, but the Dinos almost make up for it. Remote Bombs (which the user can detonate at will) are only good for one use in multiplayer, rather than unlimited as in Bomberman: Act Zero. This plays a valuable balancing role (and many Bomberman games don’t include Remote Bombs in multiplayer anyway).
As far as feel goes, the only other sore spots are relatively technical. Here, bomb explosions outlast the life of soft blocks. This makes it possible to walk through an exploding soft block and into an explosion, which wouldn’t be possible in a genuine Bomberman game. I hope that changes eventually, because it messes up the balance a bit.
Orbital Bombers (called Revenge Bomber in some Bomberman games), the feature that allows defeated players to interact with live players and even come back to life if they manage to score a kill, are the other issue. The time delay between firing an orbital shot and it appearing in the field is so great that it makes the feature annoying to use. You can still get kills that way (others have killed me orbitally), but the basic act of firing doesn’t feel good. Luckily, the feature can be disabled if desired.
Finally, Splody‘s art falls on the cheap and tacky side. There’s a nice selection of characters, but they don’t mesh well with the backgrounds or even just look aesthetically pleasing. Not a huge crime for a low-priced indie game, but I’d love to see better sprite work if a sequel ever happens.
Those complaints aside, Splody plays like a very good multiplayer Bomberman game. Hopefully an online community will develop around it, because the primary feature for many of us will be online play. Local multiplayer is a terrific feature for certain events and environments, but I mostly want people to blow up online. So, why not grab a copy for yourself and a friend and hop on to challenge the rest of us?
Splody sells for $6.99 on Steam. Fans of old-school multiplayer games won’t want to miss it.
Review code provided by the developer.