In 2004, a little known shooter entitled Tumiki Fighters was released for the PC and MAC. Flash forward four years, and Majesco has revived the title in the form of Blast Works, a side-scrolling shooter for Wii. Blast Works has had a lot going against it--especially as a retail release. Is it well-suited as a value-priced Wii game, or would it have been better off as a downloadable title for WiiWare?Blast Works is an arcade-style, 2D shooter comprised of numerous side-scrolling and vertical levels. Players take command of a small fighter ship and then blast their way through wave after wave of enemy units, culminating in a massive boss battle. The campaign mode allows for up to four players at once, often resulting in chaotic and erratic action. Three other games--TUMIKI Fighters, rRootage, Gunroar, and Torus Trooper--can be unlocked once the game is completed on one of three difficulty settings.
Aside from the standard modes, Blast Works contains a comprehensive editor mode. Players can design custom enemies, ships, and levels, allowing for the manipulation of projectiles, sound effects, and the size and shape of everything encountered in the game. These creations can also be shared with others via the internet, though players will need to register at the official website as simply trying to download creations beforehand yielded poor results.
Though at first glance Blast Works might seem like a relatively short game, the inclusion of the editor mode and online downloads adds serious depth and replay value for those willing to give it a chance.
Where Blast Works breaks ground is that players can affix falling debris from destroyed vehicles to their own vessel, thus creating the potential for a mammoth-sized ship. These new parts each come with unique firepower and their own life meter. Pieces will fall apart once destroyed, but players don’t lose a life unless the core unit is obliterated.
Levels increase in both enemy frequency and difficulty, and thus navigating a massive (sometimes screen-filling) ship can become problematic. Players have the option to recoil their expansive creation, leaving just the original core ship to control. Toggling between these two forms becomes crucial later on in the game. Several of the boss battles will blast away extremities in no time, forcing players to take on the behemoths without any enhancements.
On the easier settings, Blast Works is repetitive and cumbersome at points. Several long stretches--sometimes almost entire levels--can be completed by simply holding down the fire button. Part of the experience is achieving this scenario, where simply watching the action becomes enjoyable. On the normal and hard difficulty settings, however, this occurrence is rare and much more skill is required to succeed.
Blast Works utilizes polygons to construct the majority of the visuals, including the backgrounds. The style is very distinct and it makes the game look like a retro ‘80s arcade shooter. There’s also a lot happening on the screen at any given time, with numerous enemy vessels firing barrage after barrage of attacks, while chunks of debris scatter all around. For such a simple game it definitely has a unique visual appeal. The soundtrack consists of various techno themes that, at points, border on trance. Sound effects retain a sci-fi feel while still complimenting the overall flow of the music. There’s no denying that Blast Works features a highly stylized presentation.
For a value title, Blast Works provides serious replay value for those willing to take the initiative. Players looking for a unique spin on classic arcade shooters will be well-rewarded, and the inclusion of the various difficulty levels makes it accessible to everyone. Without the edit mode, this would be a stellar WiiWare game, but with it, the bargain price is justified.