My two favourite pastimes are music and gaming. When these two things combine, I get very interested. Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Rez all have a special place in my heart. My favourite game so far this year has been the brilliant Aaero that brilliantly integrates music into a videogame. At this year’s EGX I came across a game from Silo Black Games, called Boom Boom Barbarian that brilliantly combined these two loves to the same level as those classics.
At first glance, the game looks like a cross between CastleStorm and Guitar Hero. Enemies are moving along a road towards a castle gate with coloured circles beneath them that relate to the buttons on your controller. As they get close to your character, you have to press the appropriate button to strike them down. These enemies attack in time to the music and reach you at the same time as specific pulses and hits in the music. Check out this footage of the game –
The first thing you notice about the game are the visuals. The bright graphics are complimented by some fun character design. These models fit the style perfectly and add to the fun vibe that the game has. While animations are basic, the movement is slick and precise. With a rhythm action game you can’t afford to have frame drops, and Boom Boom Barbarian doesn’t miss a beat. The action is smooth, unrelenting, and often frenetic.
Of course, a rhythm action game lives or dies by its soundtrack, and the music here really helps to set the game apart. The bespoke score has an appropriately epic vibe that adds a contemporary feel to the orchestral and choral sounds. The pulses and orchestral hits move within the music to provide the most compelling gameplay. As a musician, I can appreciate how complicated this is to do but it has been done to perfection here, and a lot of credit must go to the composer as well as the level designers whose symbiotic work has gelled together so perfectly.
There is complexity to the gameplay in the form of special moves and ally characters. Two special moves were available in the demo I played. Special moves are charged through in-game play, and the one I chose cleared the entire screen or enemies (incredibly useful when you have a screen full of enemies bearing down on you). There was a choice of 4 Allies. A Carpenter who repairs any damage that your castle takes. The Defender who takes care of any enemies that you miss. An Archer who boosts your score on special highlighted enemies. Finally, there was the Bard who made the special attack charge at a faster rate. You can swap between characters at any time with the bumper buttons. Choosing the right character at the right time is essential for creating high scores.
I played many games during my time at EGX and nothing made me smile quite as Boom Boom Barbarian did. It is the epitome of a simple idea done well. The setting, design, and soundtrack are what make this a little gem of a game. It’s colourful, bright, engaging, gripping, and seriously addictive. The music is one of those earworms that keeps getting stuck in your head and stays with you long after you’ve finished playing. I only got to play one level of the game but can’t wait to play more. I for one will be ready and waiting with my hard-earned cash for when Silo Black Games unleash the full game into the world.