It has become an in-joke within this here website that I intentionally review bad games.
One; they’re kind of right. I don’t go into most games expecting Shakespeare, and for the most part, I’m amazingly correct in my assumptions. Two; sometimes, I don’t plan it, y’know! At the same time, I expect competency in almost every factor, with at least a rating of “Jack-of-All-Trades”. Take this game for example, Boiling Bolt, another pure shoot ’em up, that can contest against Sky Force Reloaded in my mind for the title of “Least Worst Shoot ‘Em Up”.
Today’s Japanese product by way of France comes to us from Persistant Studios, a French studio who attempt to defy explanation. As far as I’m aware, they produce software, namely PopcornFX, which as far as I can tell has something to do with particle effects. I’m not here to delve into the nitty-gritty of game software tools, I’m here to tell you whether the game is good… which it isn’t. Ah.
Boiling Bolt tells the story of a young rebel by the name of June, an awkward month for her, I’m sure. During her rebelling, she comes across a ship embedded with a fragment of the Boiling Bolt, some Heart-of-The-Cards type shit that draws its power from life itself— oh, so it’s as powerful as everything else, then? Regardless, she’s here to fight slavers, and we can all get behind that!
Most of the story is told within in-game cutscenes, which are so poorly translated, it’s a wonder I’m not watching “Foodfight Matarslagur”. Constant sentence fragmentation and typos are the dish of the day, as June and Co. speak like tourists trying to find a landmark. It brought many a laugh, and did a lot to help keep me awake during gameplay.
The gameplay itself is just your usual shoot ’em up affair with a slight twist. Here, your ship is on a 2.5D plane, and you have free rein to pick the direction and pacing, like a mix of Fantasy Zone and Forza Motorsport. With this, you also have a small arsenal of varying weapons: a short range electrical blast, another short range electrical blast, short range ice blast, and a black hole launcher. Talk about contrasting, pfft.
Every once in a while, you’ll be trapped within a small part of the track and forced to survive a gauntlet of different enemies. The enemies are well-varied, and there’s a lot of different strategies to employ, enough to make almost every scenario a different one. NOW… if only the rest of the game had the same attitude.
I hate to jump into this so negatively, because I don’t want to, but nearly every other aspect of Boiling Bolt has trouble getting up like Trump has trouble keeping promises. For example, the gameplay itself takes a halt from being fair when you can’t correctly judge bullet trajectory due to the track winding around you. When you see one of those bastard ships fire a quad-shot around a corner, you’re more than likely going to lose one of your six lives.
Speaking of, the lives system can suck a fresh coconut. You get six, and if you lose them all, it’s game over with a chance of 2 continues. On top of that, I wasn’t able to figure out if you were able to get life extends. That’s all fine and dandy, that’s quintessential shoot ’em up rules, but why employ this life system when you have an upgrade system that has stats based around defense?
Throughout your travels, you’ll be collecting crystals that can used to purchase better upgrades in the shop, with the only 3 stats being Strength, Speed, and Defense. Again, that’s completely allowable, but before you go “oh, uhh, that’s uhh, the defense is uhh, to do with how much damage your ship takes before it blows up!”, it doesn’t work like that. You’re always only going to be able to take one shot before exploding, and no manner of stacking could allow me to take more damage.
As for the rest of the game, it’s alright. The music is able to fit the mood without being completely overbearing, and it compliments the visuals the most of the time. The other meaty part of the game is bosses, which are really fun to fight, but the game’s own mechanics sabotage the design. A prime example is the first boss, this giant centipede looking thing, that constantly moves towards you. However, you’re not able to move much due to an instakill fence that restricts your movement and the twists in the track also confuse the player when the centipede shoots a giant laser straight down the middle.
Regardless, there were ideas. Severely limited ideas, but ideas nonetheless. Unfortunately, they were crippled due to the lack of technical polish and the progression system. The progression itself is standard shoot ’em up stuff, you get a buncha stages, and it should take around an hour to complete. I say “should” due to the aforementioned technical polish missing.
There were a few glitches which annoyed me, but those were just repeated noises that were fixed after a minute. Other glitches that aren’t as trivial are ones like spawning inside an enemy or spawning in enemy fire, and your good ol’ French-made, slap-the-shit-off-my-toilet-bowl-and-call-me-Arnold-Schwarzenegger game crashes. Because of course there are.
I haven’t completed it, mind you, because it feels like the game is accounting for two players at all times, which means they spam an impossible amounts of enemies at some point, resulting in frequent game overs. I feel like Persistant are persistent on trying to evoke the classic nature of normal shoot ’em ups, but it translates so badly in this fashion.
In short, no, I don’t like Boiling Bolt, and I’ve got a strong feeling you won’t like it either. There are a few ideas that might make you go “heyyyyyyy! that’s pretty good!” However, none of them can reach the level of hype Persistant are trying to achieve, and there’s about 400 other bullet hell shoot ’em ups you could waste your time having a sensory overload with. Mushihimesama, Geometry Wars, Furi, Assault Android Cactus… not this.
An attempt to capture Eastern influences that splutters and fails, despite the ideas shown.