Three new indie releases this week, with Super Soccer Blast and Epic Dumpster Bear 2 being completely new games and Biped returning with a Switch version. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
Super Soccer Blast
From Unfinished Pixel, Super Soccer Blast is the latest in a series of sports games from the indie publisher. It’s out now for PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC and was preceded by Super Volley Blast Super Tennis Blast.
Super Soccer Blast isn’t trying to be a FIFA or PES beater, but rather wants to take us back to the arcade-style soccer games that came before it. Despite this, the control schemes available to you are either FIFA-style or PES-style, perhaps to make the transition easier on players. Other than that, however, Super Soccer Blast plays a very different game of soccer/football – and it’s one that can feel a bit unpolished at times.
Taking me back to a pre-FIFA period means I’m thinking about games like Sensible Soccer, Kick Off and Super Sidekicks – all of which I enjoyed a lot despite their different approaches to the game. Playing Super Soccer Blast made me nostalgic for those games, but also underlined some of the flaws in Unfinished Pixel’s game. Sensible Soccer allowed you to play a smooth passing game that was unrivalled until the modern franchises came along, but in Super Soccer Blast you’ll get a lot of “I didn’t mean to pass it there!” and “I wish my players would just move so that they’re not always behind opponents!” instead.
Perhaps we’ve been spoiled in terms of the AI of FIFA 20 or the latest PES, but other AI mishaps are harder to overlook. I’ve had my goalkeeper dive forward over the ball rolling towards him more than I’ve seen him save it, and the opponents didn’t fare much better after that goalie mistake. They’d walk straight on towards the goal line, only to turn around and pass it to another player instead of scoring a goal.
Those AI mishaps are a shame, because at times Super Soccer Blast really clicks and I’ve been able to score some wonderful goals – to the point where I wish the game had support for instant replays so I could see them again. Unfinished Pixel’s tennis and volleyball games are both quite well polished takes on their sport though, so let’s hope Super Soccer Blast gets refined a little more post-launch. As it stands, it’s a bit of an unpolished gem in the making.
Epic Dumpster Bear 2 – He Who Bears Wins
Unfamiliar with the first game, I went into this sequel by Log Games with a completely open mind. Intentionally campy, it’s a platformer that stars a bear and looks like it was lifted from an era where PC gaming had a thriving ‘public domain’ scene of people making 2D platform games when all the well-known ones were being released on various 16-bit consoles. Out on PC and consoles, we tested the PS4 version.
Story-wise, Dumpster Bear is out for revenge after his forest was destroyed and now he has over 40 levels to get through on his way to vengeance. They’re spread across six different game worlds and completing them all will easily take you four hours or more – not bad for a budget title. If you’re interested in trophies then this game has plenty of them, but you’ll need to complete the entire game to get them all while also grabbing plenty of silver and gold medals AND finding enough of the game’s secrets.
Visually Epic Dumpster Bear 2 looks a bit like something that was thrown together in “make your own platformer” kind of tool, and it has cutscenes that look like a mid-nineties production as well. This is clearly a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but underneath that so-so exterior lies a competent albeit formulaic platformer – full of plenty of content and even the odd boss fight here and there. No, it doesn’t come close to any of the classics out there, but if you’re aching for a new 2D platformer to play this will kill a few hours. You’ll likely not come back to it afterwards, but at its price point you’re probably not going to regret it either – especially if you enjoy a campy kind of approach to gaming.
Rounding out this Indie Roundup is Biped from NEXT Studios. Those who follow our reviews will remember that we checked out the PS4 version of this game previously, as that version was released prior to the Switch edition – which comes out July 2nd. Our original review of Biped is of course still available, and describes this fun and creative puzzle adventure in more detail.
At the core of Biped is a unique control mechanic where you control a little sphere-like robot by only having direct control over his two legs. This takes a little getting used to, but it’s a novel approach that is used in clever ways to present players with a wide arsenal of puzzles as you use your little feet to operate machinery or cling to surfaces.
The Switch version thrives on Biped’s reliance on cooperative multiplayer, as both players can grab a JoyCon controller and take control of one of the robots. This works great on the big screen in TV mode – where the experience translated perfectly from the previous PS4 release. The great news, however, is that Biped is also a wonderful game to play in handheld mode, thanks to its bright visuals and zoomed in perspective.
The biggest drawback when playing Biped in coop on the Switch is that a single JoyCon controller doesn’t have dual thumbsticks, so the controls had to be modified to accommodate the lack of a right hand stick. It’s slightly less comfortable as a result (the JoyCon generally being quite small doesn’t help either), but perfectly doable. If you like your Switch for the coop experiences that it offers, then Biped is right up there with the best of them if you enjoy puzzle games with hints of platforming tucked in. Online coop is scheduled to arrive post-launch as well, so that should be another great way to play (considering the use of both thumbsticks in that scenario.