Heckabomb is a twin-stick arcade shoot-em-up, developed by Allicom Games and published by KISS Ltd, and is available on Steam right now. It’s a game that harkens back to the days of the arcade, where you fire up the game and just go for it, with the game’s simple mechanics making it easy to play from scratch and get past a few levels. Or for the the more high score inclined, a lengthy amount of levels to sink your teeth into. But how does this fare on a PC nowadays, when the arcade scene it heavily borrows from is not around anymore?
As mentioned, Heckabomb is an arcade game through and through. It wears its influences on its sleeve, which primarily is from the old vector based arcade game which you might of heard about, Asteroids. You fly around in a small ship, and blow up asteroids. The gameplay mechanics carry on from there, with the game not using the front of the ship as your firing point, and giving you a second analog stick to use to aim your shots, allowing for full freedom of movement while aiming your shots wherever you desire. The ship you use is upgradeable, with the collectable salvage you grab throughout the game. This allows for you to upgrade bombs, fire rate and damage etc to allow you to approach the game however you want.
The levels alternate in their focus. The first is an asteroid collection mission, where you blow asteroids up, grab collectables, and move on once you’ve grabbed enough. The second variant is a survival, whereby you have to stay alive while all of the enemy ships try to kill you, so your ship can fire a bomb at a planet, blow it up, and the move on back to another asteroid level. It’s a simple gameplay loop, but it works well. Every once in awhile different level variants show up at specific numbers, such as a warship level, where a large boss appears, and if you choose to engage and then win, you’re rewarded for your efforts with unique bonus upgrades.
You can’t talk a great deal about this game without talking about how it borrows form games past, and how it weighs up against current games. As mentioned, its heavily influenced by Asteroids with its arcade style gameplay and asteroid destruction, but with it being a twin stick space shooter based on survival, there’s another more recent title that it’s got to be compared to, Lucid Games (formerly Bizarre Creations) Geometry Wars.
Both games offer a quick and fast paced slice of arcade action, with both offering the role of a single player against the AI trying their best to rack up scores. But this is where the similarities stop, and where Heckabomb starts to fall a little short. Yes, the game does offer multiple modes, such as casual, hardcore and a survival mode, but Geometry Wars, even in its initial offering on XBLA, had 6 different modes, with a pacifist mode, gates etc. Another major feature I think is missing form the game that Geometry Wars has is a multiplayer mode.
A game like this works great with 2 people, maybe even more, so it’s a crying shame to not see something like that implemented. Geometry Wars now, with the most recent addition, added modes were you’re rotating abound in 3D space, and other challenge modes to give the title some longevity, whereas with Heckabomb it just can’t quite go toe to toe with with Geometry Wars.
The game is a nice, cheap and cheerful £5 full price on Steam, and the game gives you a nice dosage of content for that price with lots of levels, a couple of different ways to play the game, and an upgrade system which allows you to change how you approach the game with how you upgrade yourself. But I get the feeling after a few hours of play you might have had your fill, which for some is great and is enough satisfaction for a game, but there might not be enough content in the first place for some people to warrant a purchase for something which can be seen as an arcade game from the late 80’s.
Overall, it is a nice fun game, good for a few hours of blasting asteroids and dodging things as you upgrade yourself. The music works for the game, not amazingly special in my opinion, yet the steam store page seems to have it as a selling point. There aren’t that many modes to increase the longevity and the game would benefit greatly from a local multiplayer mode.