IGN Review of Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy
The 2D shooter has been around a long time -- long enough to have grown stale in many gamers' eyes long ago. In order to standout in today's market, a shoot-em-up needs to offer something beyond just blasting endless waves of enemies and dodging bullets. With BlastWorks, what you get for your $40 is a unique, lengthy shooter, a powerful editor for creating your own levels, plus access to unlimited user-generated content from the game's official website, BlastWorksDepot.com. This is a great package, and although it's not going to appeal to everyone it's great to have something so unique in the Wii's library.
The campaign mode is a remake of a 2004 PC game called Tumiki Fighters. It's a horizontal shooter in the same style as Gradius or R-Type. But what made Tumiki Fighters unique was that every vehicle you shot down could be added to the bulk of your ship. Your new parts will fire automatically, but depending on where you picked them up they may or may not be shooting in a useful direction. They also act as shields, but they will fall off as they take damage. This mechanic creates a wonderfully random experience so that BlastWorks is less about pattern memorization than other shooters. There are 15 missions, which is pretty lengthy for a shooter, and on higher difficulty levels they provide a great challenge.
Your collected parts can be sucked in at will. This will keep your friends safe, but leaves you vulnerable and you lose their extra firepower. I found I would usually leave them extended during a level, but when I reached a boss fight I would try to conserve them as long as possible, drawing them in to dodge bullet spray and then unleashing them in short bursts.
Up to four pilots can get in on the action, but this is more about the novelty of how chaotic things get than a real gameplay experience. With each player building up massive ships it quickly becomes impossible to tell what's going on. It's fun to try once, but BlastWorks is more satisfying as a single-player game.
After you've played through the campaign you're just getting started with what BlastWorks has to offer. With the editors you can design complete levels and populate them with your own ships, enemies, and scenery. They allow users to create pretty much any BlastWorks level they can imagine, but you're not gonna bust out a masterpiece in a few minutes. It definitely takes some time, and artistic ability will help immensely.
While you have a lot of freedom with the editors, they're not quite as easy to use as they could be. Building shapes and vehicles will be too tedious for many gamers. You make selections and drag objects around by pointing with the Wii remote, but this obviously isn't as precise as, say, using a mouse. Plus, sometimes changing one tiny detail involves clicking through several menus. Common functions should have been mapped to buttons on the remote and nunchuk.
The good news is if you can't be bothered with putting all that time and effort into a level, you can head over to BlastWorksDepot.com and download full user-created levels. Or, you could download elements to use in your own creations. Say you want to build a level based on your house, but you don't want to spend the time creating every furniture item in your living room. Just head on over to the Depot and check if users have uploaded couches, tables, and other common household items. Your Depot account is linked to your Wii Number, so when you find something you like you can send it to your console with one click. Uploading files from your Wii to the Website is just as easy.
As forward-thinking as BlastWorks is with its content sharing abilities, the graphics are rooted in the past. I like the aesthetic look of the blocky ships, but there's nothing here in the way of flashy special effects. Some of the menus are just plain fugly. Sonically, though, the game has a groovy electronic soundtrack that echoes old school videogame chiptunes.
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