I feel that many people mistake simplicity for ease and complexity with difficulty, but I find that those concepts are mutually exclusive. Pushing a van up a hill is simple, it's one foot in front of the other, but it's hard. Many a LEGO set is complex, but with the directions they're rather easy assuming you don't lose one of those little but essential pieces. This is the case with Bouncing Bob, a casual one-button platformer by All Those Moments. Don't let the fact that there's only one button to jump fool you, the single player mode is a fun if shallow and brief experience, while the local multiplayer is a tad frustrating, but would be good if you didn't all need to cramp around a keyboard.
Bouncy Bob is available on Steam for $4.99.
You are a gnome named Bouncy Bob and there are zombies and, well, they aren't going to kill themselves. You need to bounce around and kill the zombies. Alright, so the story isn't exactly the game's strong suit. Or even a suit in the game at all, as a matter of fact. This isn't a game that tries to motivate you with an intriguing story, just with the lure of beating your own old high score. I can't come down on Bouncy Bob too hard for this though because at least they aren't trying to do yet another zombie narrative. Though I do prefer games that have a good story, there's a place in my library for those games that just say "you know the drill" and just let you burn a few hours. Yeah there's not really a climax, it's just all kind of a silly little gnome bouncing on zombies, so if you're looking for something that will have you riveted maybe look elsewhere.
Like I said before, the game is played on one button. Press and hold to choose your jump direction, then release to go there. Press it a bit more to flap your arms which may help you rocket into the air, or it may just delay your fall a few seconds. Maybe I just didn't quite get the hang of the controls, but that arm flapping did seem to be a bit of a mixed bag. You do have to plan each jump very carefully though, because unless you flap a bit you have no control over yourself until you land, so if you see yourself hurtling into a spike pit or if that enemy moves just enough to put you in a pit of zombies, you'd best learn from that mistake and plan better next time. You will die a lot, but the game is just so chill I had a difficult time getting frustrated. You're back in the game in the blink of an eye. There are also power ups laying around, but even those have you trying to be careful because they take 30 seconds to respawn and waiting for them to come back after an ill-timed jump is a pain.
I will say it did annoy me that this game didn't have direct controller support. This kind of game begs to be played as we did in days of old, but I had to manually configure my Steam controller. This would be more of a gripe if there was more than one button that needed mapping, but it did still strike me as odd.
Bouncing around the 16 single player levels, you need to kill a certain quota of zombies in order to progress to the next stage. At the beginning this is rather easy, but the difficulty really ramps up as you move forward. This mode I would recommend thinking of as more of one of those flash physics puzzle games that used to be everywhere. If you think of it as a platformer you'll move too quickly and die a lot. Sometimes you'll need to move quickly, but for the most part the enemies don't spawn near you so you can really be sure to take your time. There aren't many levels, but All Those Moments has promised more if interest in the game increases and I hope they provide. All of the levels in the single player mode are well designed, each one providing a new twist to keep you on your toes and pushing your skills just a little bit more.
And now for the hardest part of the game: finding a friend to try the local multiplayer. All this is is a battle royale in one of six stages, no unlocking required, and whoever kills the others the most wins. This would be a lot more fun if the controls weren't all mapped to the keyboard. I had my friend and I standing on either side of a steam controller, which worked fine, but I couldn't imagine getting four people together on the same keyboard or controller to play this. If there is a way to map these controls to multiple controllers, I couldn't find them. Even so, if you're going to have local multiplayer don't try and force at least two people into the same five square feet. Those whole fun of these is laying around bragging about how great you're doing, which isn't as fun if everyone is within punching distance.
Graphics and audio
The graphics are pretty fun. Imagine if Limbo wasn't so serious and you have the graphics for Bouncy Bob. The designs are all quirky, delightful, and distinct. I never got myself mixed up with an enemy or another player. Granted all of the characters looked like they were designed in a grade schooler's notebook, but then they looked like they were refined and inked by people who knew what they were doing. I wouldn't buy a poster or anything, but I couldn't find it in me to hate the art style.
The music complimented the graphics quite nicely, adding a sort of ramshackle charm to the whole experience, but I mean that in a good way. What music comes to mind when you see those screenshots I've put in this review? Chances are that sounds almost exactly like the music that's actually in the game. My favorite part of the audio, however, was that deep voice shouting "Bulls-eye," "Double Kill!" and the like, as if I were playing a MOBA. It just made me feel so good whenever I felt like I did something awesome to be affirmed by what sounded like the booming voice of God.
Look, if you're looking for some sort of deep, engaging experience that will have you riveted to your seat, Bouncy Bob isn't for you. It took me longer to find someone to play local multiplayer than it did for me to complete the single player. The one button control is simple, but still challenging enough. There aren't a lot of levels in either mode, but the developers are aware of this and are planning to add more. If you're looking for some solid local multiplayer you'd get a better experience elsewhere. If you're just looking for a fun couple hours with a solid gimmick, you can do a lot worse than Bouncy Bob. While it does have its issues, the art style, clever gimmick, and good design of the stages show that the designers obviously had a ball designing this, which makes it fun to play. I can't help it, I'm a sucker for a passion project and it looks like All Those Moments put a good deal more care into this casual game than others have.
|+ Quirky art and music||– No story|
|+ Clever gimmick||– Multiplayer makes you cram together|
|+ Well-designed levels||– Very short single player|