The Battle Bears franchise began as a silly, yet engaging, third-person shooter where hoards of enemies charged at you. The developers at SkyVu tried to take their gameplay to the next level with Battle Bears -1, bringing their bear hero Oliver into the world of level-roaming and strafing, making Oliver the hunter rather than the hunted. With Battle Bears Blast, the franchise has returned to its roots, but stripped away the story and the multitude of weapons to create a high score game in the Battle Bears Universe.
You continue to play as Oliver, the bear with a vendetta against Huggables. Huggables are strange, brightly colored bear-ish creatures who only want to hug Oliver…to death. In Blast, just as in the original game, Oliver tries to protect his base against the Huggables, but instead of sandbags, you only have a circle to show where your territory ends and theirs begins. You must prevent any Huggables from invading your space.
Oliver’s weapon of choice is a microwave, shooting deadly heat rays at the Huggables, ultimately causing their heads to pop off. This is Oliver’s only weapon, and you fire by simply dragging your finger across the screen and aiming the reticle at your prey. The microwave automatically heats up when your crosshairs meet a Huggable, but your gun takes a second or two to blow them to smithereens.
The challenge of the game is not defending yourself against the Huggables, but rather killing Huggables of the same color for more points. You must take your time and plan your shots. If you can manage to kill a white Huggable, you can combo together Huggables of different colors for even more points.
Oliver doesn’t only have enemies on the battlefield. Aside from Huggables, Oliver can also attack the Nuggs, a race of round birds that can grant score multipliers. Utilizing these birds will give you the advantage and can help put you on the leaderboards.
Oliver also has his friend Wil, a goofy sidekick with the best of intentions. He stumbles onto the field to deliver bombs, which you can bake with microwaves to eliminate all Huggables on the field. However, Wil is always in the wrong place at the worst time, and if you accidentally bake Wil, it’s game over. Luckily, he wears a bright orange safety vest so that he sticks out. That is, if you can see him underneath your finger.
Like the popular Tiny Wings, you can achieve certain feats and increase your level. Achievements include killing certain color Huggables in order or scoring a high number of points. As you achieve these objectives, you unlock character costumes or new colors of radiation for your microwave. Each color has its own unique effect and adds new challenges to the game.
Blast’s graphics seem slightly less polished than -1, but Blast features humorous voice acting that adds to the game’s sci-fi atmosphere. A female voice akin to HAL guides you through the tutorial and informs you when or why you lose, and Wil makes comments as he marches nonchalantly through your warzone.
Battle Bears Blast is a lighter game for the franchise when compared to the space epic of Battle Bears -1 or the original classic, but its charm is still there. However, the mildly violent and cartoony cutscenes and RPG elements of the first game are sorely missed.