21st Apr2017

PLAY Expo Leeds 2017: ‘Boom Boom Barbarian’ Preview

by Phil Wheat

This past weekend Replay Events, one of the UK’s premier gaming and event entertainment companies and the driving force behind PLAY Expo Blackpool AND Manchester (both events that team Nerdly have attended in the past), added another Northern event to their roster: PLAY Expo Leeds, an all-day gaming celebration taking place which took place at Leeds United Football Club’s Centenary Pavillion on Sunday April 16th.

Of course the PLAY Expo events are all about playing games – be it pinball, arcade games or consoles, be they retro or modern. But one of the big draws, at least for us here at Nerdly, is the Indie Game section, which allows independent developers to show off their games – be they finished or prototype; receive feedback for attendees; and see just how well the games they’ve devoted their time to are received… And you’re guaranteed to find a hidden indie game gem at each and every PLAY Expo event. This year however the indie gems were in abundance – so we thought we’d break down our favourites. First up, Boom Boom Barbarian from Silo Black Games:

Boom Boom Barbarian

boom-barbarian-screen

Whatever happened to the rhythym game genre? A few years ago you couldn’t move for rhythym games hitting consoles and handhelds. From Guitar Hero to Rock Band, Rhythym Paradise to Theatrerhythym: Final Fantasy, these games were EVERYWHERE! But as quickly as the genre exploded, it imploded – mainly thanks to a rash of cheap cash-ins, some terrible knock-offs, and ill-though out sequels to the genres biggest games… But there has been an attempt to bring back the genre, with reboots of Guitar Hero and Rock Band (and a wealth of karaoke games, which use the same gaming principle) on current consoles. But it still seems like there’s something missing, these new titles just aren’t hitting the right notes with today’s gamers (pardon the pun).

Step up Boom Boom Barbarian.

Described by the developers as “Golden Axe meets Guitar Hero;” Boom Boom Barbarian sees players takes up the role of a Barbarian mercenary for hire, who must defend the homes and castles of well-paying clients from hordes of invaders, in a brand-new rhythm game from indie developer Silo Black Games,

But Boom Boom Barbarian is a “rhythm game” like no other… Instead of pursuing a traditional rhythm game mechanic, the developers have instead mixed genres, adding not only a fantasy aspect to proceedings, in terms of the look and character design, but also incorporating tower defence style gameplay; in a title that makes Rock Band look easy!

Shown at PLAY Expo in a prototype form, Boom Boom Barbarian sees you play as the titular barbarian, defending yourself from wave after wave of enemies, using the standard four colours on a gamepad (or on screen if you’re playing the Android iteration), tapping colours to match the invading character colours, whilst trying to keep time with the music, in a format that feels a LOT like the Tap Tap Revenge games of the past. Yet somehow, at the same time feeling fresh, new and exciting. And damn, is this game tricky! It might have been the level the game was set at, but hitting the right “notes,” and in turn the enemies, was a lot harder than expected. I can imagine playing this game on its hardest level becoming the kind of iconic experience that playing Dragonforce’s Through the Fire and the Flames on Guitar Hero was a few years ago.

Graphically, Boom Boom Barbarian really looked the part – huge characters (from designs by Manchester-based Moz H. Mukhtar) and colourful graphics that worked well on both Android and console versions – marry those with fantastic gameplay and the promise of a much bigger game, with more levels and more music, and Boom Boom Barbarian, could be the saviour of the rhythm game genre I’ve been waiting for.

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