FullBlast (Wii U) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 24.08.2015

Review for FullBlast on Wii U

The classic shoot 'em up genre is no longer a mainstream one. Having lived its moments of glory in the second half of the 80s and survived through much of the 90s, it has now crawled back into its shell to become a rare occurrence outside of arcades, and much more so on Nintendo platforms. Save for last year's X-Type Plus by PhobosLab or Starfish SD's Steel Empire for the 3DS eShop, you'd be hard-pressed to find a recent, good shoot 'em up on a Nintendo system. Most if not all releases in the side or vertical scrolling shooter genre were Virtual Console releases or remasters such as the two Fantasy Zone titles by Sega. FullBlast comes along with the promise of vertical-scrolling shooter goodness to a starved Wii U eShop.

Save the planet from an invasion of insect-like aliens and ships. There's certainly a better pretext for action in a shoot 'em up, but that's what gets FullBlast started, throwing players straight into the action without any kind of fancy intro or anything of the sort. Things start slow, as is often the case, with access to an initially slow and weak pea shooter and only one power bomb that wipes the whole screen of anything it contained previously, quickly wasted if the two buttons are mistaken. At first, most enemies require one or two hits to take down, but as the game progresses, the amount required increases, as does the amount of enemies appearing on-screen. Fortunately, waves of enemies do leave behind power-ups, which increase the amount of bullets fired, or change the shape of the attack to a more widespread array to cover a larger portion of the screen, which helps a lot with the harder difficulty of later stages. Unfortunately, death is quite unforgiving. Dying means reverting back to the pea shooter and being sent back to a previous checkpoint. Bombs are not given back upon re-spawning, either, which means dying in the later stages will, in all likelihood, equal a game over, as building fire power back can take quite some time.

Screenshot for FullBlast on Wii U

In similar franchises (such as Gradius), upon re-spawning, enemies go easy on the player for a short time so as to let them stand a chance of building back attack power, but that is unfortunately not the case here. The ship doesn't get destroyed in one hit and has a health bar, which will be enough to last through the first handful of stages, but near the end, enemy swipes can be so brutal that repeated assaults mean almost instant death. The difficulty is not exactly well-balanced; out of the 12 stages, the first 8 or so prove boringly easy, even on the default "normal" difficulty setting, with no death in sight. Towards the end, however, a single boss can put a swift end to what felt like a long trip to get there. It's possible to start from any previously reached level, but it won't be much help when the one bomb and pea shooter make it so tough to build any decent fire power back up and get any further. The trip also doesn't feel very exciting, either. There are only three different types of environment: a cityscape, a jungle, and something that looks like the Arctic Ocean, with icebergs spread here and there.

Screenshot for FullBlast on Wii U

Each stage is pretty much the same scenery looping on itself, so before reaching the end of one of them, the ship will have passed by the same coast-side road, the same building, or the same bunch of icebergs at least 4 or 5 times. Visually speaking, it's clear the game uses the same assets built to help the Android version run fluidly. It still manages to look decent enough and doesn't lack charm, but the atrocious lack of variety kills it in the water, quite literally. Scrolling is very slow, to make the repeating scenery not reappear every 20 seconds, but every 60 or so instead, which does little to help reduce the dullness of the trip. The upbeat heavy metal soundtrack, which would fit much better in a game that scrolls at a dizzying pace, is actually quite good, but (probably once again to fit into tight memory constraints of smart devices) the same music track repeats on a loop for each chunk of 4 stages, with the exception of the big boss at the end of each environment. This means that only 4 or 5 different music tracks will be heard over a relatively long play session that can last up to two hours, which increases the sense of repetition and denies the sense of fun, making it feel more like work. It's easy to see how something so blatant would slip by its designers, since this was originally meant for smart devices which usually involve much shorter play sessions.

Screenshot for FullBlast on Wii U

On the Wii U however, where playing habits are, for most of its users, quite different, this does not go unnoticed. The handful of achievements to unlock, which do not seem to reward anything substantial, don't help. The online leaderboards, while much-needed in this genre, will only bring fame and glory to the most patient and forgiving players, who manage to not die, keep their weaponry intact until the end, and not want to turn off their system before they get there. It's a shame as the engine, running fluidly on the Wii U, shows in some dialogue sequences that it CAN scroll things fast and that it's capable of producing some very charming scenery indeed. It could have lent itself well to making a much more engaging experience in this genre on the Wii U. It's clearly not a lack of understanding of the system on the developer's part, but just a lack of involvement or a lack of budget that may have held back this title in its Wii U incarnation, as it certainly lends itself much better to a smart device experience on the go. Lastly, the screen of the Gamepad remains desperately black all the time, not being used for any other purpose than playing off-TV when that mode is activated (at the press of the minus button). While indeed this type of game might be better appreciated on a large screen, being a game intended first and foremost for the smaller screen of a phone or tablet means that it does not pose any problem to read the action on the smaller display.

Screenshot for FullBlast on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

FullBlast is hard to fault entirely in one particular of its many aspects. It doesn't do much wrong: it controls well, the music is nice enough, the visuals, while not impressive, do look clean. It gets the action going, yet it fails to capture the attention because it's too repetitive and not engaging enough. It's neither good nor bad, it just feels dull. Nothing outstanding distinguishes one level from the next, and the lack of anything truly surprising or groundbreaking means that it feels more like work than entertainment to get through all the levels and see the ending. Online leaderboards, while they are a good addition (and are seriously lacking in the brilliant re-releases of old classics on Nintendo platforms), won't be its saving grace. The boring repetitiveness of the action, music, and scenery is likely to put off the most purist of fans, who will likely prefer to whip out an old classic rather than sticking around for too long in this newer title. Lack of content, replayability, and engaging factors hold back what could have otherwise been a much better home console experience, and proves that copy-pasting a mobile game onto a home console is not a good idea.

Developer

UFO Crash Games

Publisher

EnjoyUp

Genre

Shooter

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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