There’s a good chance that everyone knows Bomberman, right? At one point Hudson Soft’s insanely cute, top-down series that’s all about explosions was one of the most popular multiplayer games around. I have fond memories of spending a good amount of time happily blowing up friends and foes alike. In later years, however, the series become less and less relevant. Perhaps it was due to the simplification of its ruleset? Perhaps Bomerman just overstayed his welcome.
Whatever the case, it’s nice to know that there are he’s out there trying to capitalize on what made Bomberman great. SCRAP RUSH!!, from developer Acquire (Octopath Traveler), is one such game, a highly colorful and whimsical take on the classic Bomberman formula that adds its own unique flair and design choices to encourage a sense of nostalgia without feeling like an outright copy.
In SCRAP RUSH!! you play as a robot on Planet Scrap whose duty it is to punch junk heaps and collect scraps to destroy other evil robots. This all happens in the familiar top-down view and a barebones setup where that’s not much story. But who needs a story? We’re here for manic gameplay and that’s not a bad thing!
Gameplay boils down to a very simple mechanic: punch blocks of trash in order to destroy them or crush enemies between them. You’ll find yourself holding the punch button down longer as it does get you a bigger boost and causes more blocks to be pushed as a result. There were plenty of times when I felt too confident in my swing, only to get squished by an enemy before I had ample time to show off. Pity.
Destroyed trash piles drop scrap pieces that you’re able to swing by and pick up. With these, you’re able to create scrap blocks of your own for smooshing purposes and, depending on what powerups you may have, can do a whole lot more. Some of these are purchased via the ingame store (purchased with scraps, naturally) and can be something as effective as a bomb block or a block that can only be pushed by you and no one else; handy for setting up traps!
Load up the game and you’re presented with three different modes: Challenge, Battle, Scrush. Challenge serves as a bit of a “campaign”, or a tutorial for solo or co-op play that serves as a guide through levels while introducing new concepts and layouts. It’s also a good way to get used to the game in a co-operative setting, though with only ten levels it’s over far too quickly. There are normal and hard difficulties, but aside from these SCRAP RUSH!! relies heavily on your ability to withstand the other modes for much of the game’s shelf life of enjoyment.
Battle mode lets you go head-to-head against each other or team up against AI, while Survival Match serves as the Bomberman equivalent where the last surviving robot is crowned champion. Scrap Battle is a bit like “king of the hill” as you need to collect scraps and bring them to your area to accumulate a score; thieving other player’s stashes is highly encouraged. Finally, you have Point Match, where the player with the most scrap wins. Simple, yet effective.
Those modes each have their own maps and that can honestly feel a little repetitive if you’re playing them over and over. Yet, in a couch setting with some friends I can see this having some quick appeal to break up the monotony of more straightforward games you might be playing.
I found the most interesting mode was Scrush (an interesting, if not lazy, portmanteau of Scrap Rush that I can totally get behind). Scrush is a sort of wave-based mode that has you destroying enemies in an ever-changing layout. Once you’ve met your goal of robot murders, the level does a neat effect where the board gets wiped and a new layout drops down upon your head. This adds a unique style to the game that reminds me a slight bit of Pac-Man DX in how snappy it looks and feels.
Scrush tracks how far you get before death and, considering my high score is something I’m not entirely proud of, I can see myself getting addicted to trying to do better. It was by far the most interesting part of the game but the only downside was it’s single-player only, as far as I could tell.
SCRAP RUSH!! may seem like a small package on the surface, but that doesn’t detract from the fun that can be had from what little there is. Bright, colorful visuals and boppy music helps set the pace for what’s to come – and what’s to come is total destruction! Sometimes, that’s all you really need to have a good time, especially with a few friends who don’t mind being blown up. Does it have the longevity – or even the appeal – of Bomberman? Probably not. But it does a good job of separating itself from the thing it set out to emulate.