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LONG BLOG

Bots and Bikinis : SMASHING THE BATTLE Review

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Developed by STUDIOHG

Published by STUDIOHG

SMASHING THE BATTLE is a hack’n’slash / beat’em up style game that takes place during in the aftermath of a hacker attack on an under-construction high rise in the year 2085. The hacker has turned the build-bots against the workers. You must fight your way past the hordes of rumble-ready robots and get help for your injured friends.

This game is another of a string of mobile to PC ports that have been flooding the Indie market on Steam for a while now. This particular installment hails from Korea, being originally available on mobile exclusively there. Now, I am sure it is quite clear that there is some…well…fan service involved in this game, some might even say it is a selling point if that is what you are looking for. I openly laughed out as soon as the game started up, as you are immediately greeted with the main character jumping in place to show off their in game physics if you catch my drift. The 70’s funk music usually reserved for awkward pizza deliveries underscoring the whole thing doesn’t help their case any. To STUDIOHG’s credit, they at least gave a reason to the player’s armor being so revealing, “Certain parts of the Emergency Armor didn’t fit properly”.  “A for Effort” I suppose.

GAMEPLAY

You can play as one of two characters, either Sarah O’Connel or Mary Lucy (once you have completed Sarah’s story ark), as you complete each mission of the 60 Story Missions, and 80 Challenge Missions. The basics of gameplay revolve around clearing out sections of the map using a combination of your basic attacks and your special abilities to reach the boss at the end of the map. There are couple variations, such as where you have to survive a certain number of waves of enemies and defeat all the enemies on the map under a specified time. As you progress more enemy types start showing up that each bring their own challenge to the battlefield. Some will keep their distance and fire laser beams streaming across fighting area while others opt for a more close and personal approach by throwing wild hay makers your direction. There are also supply crates you can crack open to get power ups like health and SP (talked about later) that can help you out in your mission.

Although basic attacks are more than enough to get the job done, the special abilities help to break up the somewhat monotonous combat.  Sarah and Mary do share abilities like Magnet that will pull all enemies in range towards it and Repair that allows you to regain a bit of health and fix your suit which can be destroyed temporarily in battle leaving you vulnerable to attacks and unable to use your special skills until repaired. However, each character has some abilities unique to them. Sarah has the ability to summon a Giant Wrench to deal massive damage to enemies in front of her, as well as a Mine she can drop that will blow up enemies that get to close to it. Mary Lucy on the other hand can summon a large Robot to assist her in battle which also can be detonated damaging all enemies in the blast radius and can deploy a shield that will absorb enemy projectile attacks. You can also go into Overdrive, which removes your armor (because of course it does…) and greatly increases your offensive power at the cost of severely reducing your defense. Bikinis are really not so great at stopping explosion shrapnel and lasers, who knew? On the defensive side, both characters are given a dodge to evade attacks and can launch into an offensive slash mid dodge, but will be left vulnerable for a second or so after the attack.

Four main stats govern your character’s power in combat: HP, SP, Armor, and ATK. HP is your health point pool which determines how many hits you can take before getting knocked out. SP is used when performing your special attacks, and can be regained by performing successful evades. Armor is the strength of your armor suit and helps to negate some of the incoming damage. Finally, ATK is your attack power with your basic attack.

You can upgrade stats using coins you collect from defeating build-bots, clearing missions, and destroying supply crates scattered throughout the play areas. You collect scrap from defeating enemies and freeing trapped workers that you can use to purchase new outfits which also provide bonuses to your character. You earn keys by achieving three stars on a mission and they can be dropped randomly by bosses. Keys are used to free workers, unlock lore, and unlock fan art…some of which are very much fan service focused. Having enough currency is not usually an issue, you tend to make enough just playing through the missions the first time without having to replay them again and again

Overall though, combat gets really repetitive really fast. Wash-rinse-repeat is an understatement when describing SMASHING THE BATTLE. Even with some variation in mission types, most of the story missions have you clear 3-4 rooms of build bots, then finish with a boss battle. Even the map layouts repeat on the regular. Sometimes there are environmental effects that act as stage hazards, but they get overused and some even seem lazy. The EMP emitter for instance does periodic damage to you until you find and destroy them although they are pretty much always the next room over. It seems like their solution for dull-repetitive gameplay is just add more robots. The Challenge Missions seemed like a break from the mind numbing sameness of the story missions, but turned out to be just more of the same.

SOUND

Despite a limited reservoir of music, each track is high quality and there is a mix of genres too. Hard rock, heavy metal, funk. It is very energetic and fits the gameplay well, keeping up the tempo in the intense hack and slash moments as gears are sent flying and providing the suggestive background music for the main menu. Sound effects wise, there isn’t much to complain about really. The explosions, clangs, clinks, smashes, sirens are all good quality and don’t seem out of place. The only sound effect that did sound weird was Mary Lucy’s attack sounds. She sounds like Kirby when attacking, which was odd to say the least.

GRAPHICS

The graphics really aren’t anything to write home about, looking more like an early Xbox 360 Arcade game than a modern PC title. That being said, it is still look better than a lot of mobile games. The build-bots are varied in their design and the environment does make you feel like you are in a large construction elevator. The game does however spend a lot much time and energy on the fan service aspects of the game. They made sure to give more jiggle to the female characters than a Jello Cake in an Earthquake both in game with the “physics” swaying them from side to side and in the cut scenes where the characters are shown as 2D cartoons. In the main menu you have the option of “Hiding Armor”, which just shows the heroine in her bikini. If you think this transfers to ingame, it doesn’t, it is solely for the purpose of ogling the girl. Seriously though, you can zoom in and out and rotate the character while in the main menu, the focal point of this is of course none other than her bust.

The fan art, while the artist all have amazing talent to be honest, does contain some toned down images, but also contains some rather compromising poses (clothed…ish) for the girls. It’s all a bit much, way too much effort diverted to these parts of the game instead of where it should be, making the game more fun to play.

Final Opinion

Pros:

  1. Good Music
  2. Fun Special Abilities
  3. Decent Storyline
  4. Moderately Entertaining Combat

Cons:

  1. Combat Gets Old Fast
  2. Boring Level Design
  3. Lack of Variety Overall
  4. Too Much Focus on Fan Service

 

RATINGS

GAMEPLAY:  4/10

SOUND:   6/10

GRAPHICS:   5/10

STORY:    5/10

CONTENT/COST:   4/10

OVERALL:    4.8/10

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About BearInABackpackone of us since 1:24 PM on 04.06.2016