Ask anyone what the most overpopulated gaming genre is and chances are, you’ll keep getting the same answer: platform games.
More specifically, 2D platformers. Since the days of Mario the genre has became an increasingly popular and, to some, an increasingly stagnated genre. While easy to learn and (relatively) easy to make, the genre suffers from having little evolution in the base mechanics.
But once in a while you get a game which introduces something new, something fresh and almost revolutionises the genre – prime examples are Braid or Fez. Other times you get games – such as Super Meat Boy or Shovel Knight – which, while they may not introduce anything new or groundbreaking, use and work with the core mechanics so well they become classics in their own right. Bounce Rescue! from Finnish developer Bitecore is neither of these. Bounce Rescue! is a game which reminds us why the genre is so stagnant.
Another thing that 2D platformers are well-known for is their story – or rather, lack thereof. Bounce Rescue! continues this tradition. Apparently, the story of Bounce Rescue! is that the Evil Devil has came to Earth with the intention of taking over. The Bounce Rescue team will do anything to protect the Earth and must stop him, however, the devil suddenly appears and captures two of the team members and takes them to the Darkland. I should add that the only reason I know this is because I read the game description on the store; watching the 10-second long in-game cutscene will not give anyone much idea of what is happening.
But should we really care? Who plays 2D platformers for the story? We play them for their gameplay, and unfortunately Bounce Rescue! is basic at best. You hop along the four different in-game worlds, killing enemies with your baseball bat, avoiding traps and trying not to fall to your death. That’s it. Enemies are not that hard to deal with as most just walk or hop across the ground – never attempting to attack you – and often it’s just best to jump past them entirely. Sometimes enemies float towards you and you must use your trusty bat to kill them. You’ll quickly find yourself just jumping past most enemies as attempting to kill them is both boring and time consuming – they drop nothing and attacking consists of nothing more than mashing square as they become stunned immediately. It also doesn’t help that despite its incredibly basic mechanics, the controls sometimes feel unresponsive and sluggish.
If you are a difficulty junkie looking for another Super Meat Boy-like challenge you will also want to turn away. While the game does feature different difficulty settings, they only really affect the damage enemies do, and the majority of the time your deaths will either be to falling off the map or getting insta-killed by a giant spinning spiked ball. Instead of being difficult Bounce Rescue! only serves to frustrate. While I would say I had “difficulty” with some levels, it isn’t the fiendish yet addicting “I know I can do better next time” difficulty Super Meat Boy employs, but instead the annoyance that comes from many user-made Super Mario Maker levels. Some levels just end up feeling way too long and with absolutely no checkpoints it soon becomes repetitive and boring.
Along the way you can also collect the many coins strewn around the levels and the few gems that are hidden in more hard-to-reach areas. But again, like with killing enemies, there isn’t much point. Gems do nothing but give you more points to get higher on the leaderboards and coins do nothing unless you can collect 100 in which case you get back some health – which isn’t all that useful as many times death is instantaneous due to falling or insta-kills. And with little point in going off the beaten track, the lack of variation really begins to set in. Levels often look and feel very similar – and not that great graphically either, often looking like a flash game. Even in the four different worlds on offer, there is little variation and levels all use the same assets – just with different skins. The mundanity of it all is personified in their incredibly uninspired names: grassland, sandland and snowland.
There is also a multiplayer section with three separate game modes for up to four people. However it is local multiplayer only and while the different modes can provide some fun with friends it won’t last for very long as there is, unsurprisingly, little variation in the ways to play.
Bounce Rescue! ends up feeling rather uninspired and a little boring. With very little variation or side content anywhere it just feels like another generic 2D platformer. There is nothing new and no gimmick to separate it from the rest. In such a stagnant genre Bounce Rescue! doesn’t do anything but add to the problem; fans of the platforming games would be much better off choosing one of the many other much better titles available.