Review #425

Wicked Monsters BLAST!
Developer: Corecell Technology
Publisher: Valcon Games
Genre: Light Gun/Mini Game Compilation
Release Date: 07/12/2011

One of the problems with video game journalism (and gamers in general) is that the majority have been trained to only look at the big name publishers with a marketing budget larger than the incomes of some third world countries. Because of this, some publishers get lost in shuffle. Valcon Games is one of those publishers. Even though they’ve put out a solid selection of games that we’ve enjoyed here at Diehard GameFAN, nine out of ten gamers probably haven’t heard of them. Hell, even EBGamestop lists them as “Interworks.” Take a look at what they’ve put out though. Thinks like a decent little First Person Shooter in Darkest of Days, the wonderful vertical shoot ‘em up Raiden Fighter Aces and most recently, the puzzle/platformer hybrid The Adventures of Shuggy. Now they’re back with a $19.99 budget light gun game from Thailand called Wicked Monsters BLAST!. I picked it up because a), I love light gun games (Hell, I even love Mad Dog McCree and Fast Draw Showdown.), b) there haven’t been a lot of Wii exclusive titles this year and c), it was only $19.99. All three things combined to give me an opportunity to use my Wii which has suffered a real dearth of exclusive content this year (Well…in NORTH AMERICA anyway).

So, has Valcon Games brought us another quality under the radar game, or is Wicked Monsters BLAST! another piece of Wii shovelware?

Let’s Review

1. Story/Modes

As soon as the game boots up, you can tell that Wicked Monsters BLAST! is geared for a younger audience compared to most light gun titles like Ninja Assault, House of the Dead and the like. It’s a very colourful light hearted game populated with furries. The gist of the story is that there is an evil organization named “Wicked.” Now, we never learn what the organization is – just that they are supposedly bad guys. However, with each character you discover they’re not so much bad as they are a bit silly and clueless. Kind of like COBRA in the animated cartoon. Anyway, the Boss of Wicked, who resembles Rugal from King of Fighters if he was a lion, decides to abdicate his throne and so the three sub-bosses of Wicked decide to hold a tournament to see who should be the new leader of the organization. Almost sounds like a fighting game plot, right?

In arcade mode you pick one of four starting characters and proceed through seven randomly chosen mini games and then the end boss fight with Boss. Each character gets their own opening story and cut scene ending and each one is adorably cute in their own way. The other nice thing is that the story is written for kids and adults equally, so the game’s plot can be enjoyed by all, especially in a multiplayer setting where you’ll not only be competing for a high score, but an ending as well.

Once you beat arcade mode for the first time, you’ll unlock family mode. In family mode, you and the other players will determine which mini games you will play and the order they will be played in. Choosing isn’t straightforward though and this is a mini game in itself. Each mini game is attached to a balloon/zeppelin thingy and you’ll have to shoot down the one you want to play. This is a cute touch.

Once you beat arcade mode three times, you’ll unlock survival mode, which will have you play mini games repeatedly until you finally lose. Again, very fighting game. Each time you beat arcade mode you’ll also unlock an extra mini game and an extra playable character. In the end you’ll have eight playable characters and twelve playable mini games.

The fact there are eight different stories, all of which are very cute, really helps this game compared to other mini-game compilations. The fact that every mode in the game has the option for up to four player co-op/competitive play just makes it all the sweeter. After all a lot of mini-game titles outright suck if you try playing them alone (Yes, even Mario Party), but Wicked Monsters BLAST! just plays like a collection of quick light gun game titles if you’re winging it, so fans of that type of gameplay will be able to enjoy this regardless.

Overall, a really fun collection and the first mini-game compilation I’ve enjoyed since the Raving Rabbids series.

Story/Modes Rating: 7/10

2. Graphics

Unlike most light gun games that are dark and dingy, Wicked Monsters BLAST! is colorful and cute. Character designs are pretty adorable, and this is coming from someone who generally anthropomorphic stuff. My girlfriend fell in love with Ticky the Tiger, although my favorite was Spreado the morbidly obese blue whale who wants to turn Wicked into a franchise restaurant chain. There’s even an homage to Earthworm Jim in the game with Dr. Cube, who will instantly remind anyone who plays this of Bob the Killer Goldfish.

Backgrounds in the game have a nice amount of detail to them, and I was happy to see that even the most frantic mini game, complete with four wiimotes blasting away at once, never suffers from a single second of slowdown. I was happy to see that even with the number of mini games, each one received the same attention to detail.

Now that isn’t to say that there aren’t some graphics issues. In “Posture Hunt,” where you have to shoot an extra replica of the picture show, the Mr. Yuri pictures (horse dude)are a bit blurry, making it sometimes hard to figure out which to shoot. As well, although the game is very colourful and pretty, the visuals aren’t as good as a lot of higher budget productions for the Wii. It’s one of the curses of indie development methinks. Still, what’s here is very enjoyable and children, casual gamers and light gun fans alike will have fun with the cartoon style visuals. I thought the game was adorable and visually, it is probably my favorite Wii title that I’ve played this year…which isn’t saying much, but still.

Graphics Rating: 6.5/10

3. Sound

There isn’t a lot of voice acting in the game. Each playable character makes two to three sounds and there are some grunts, laughter and garbled noises for stage based characters . What’s here is cute, and oddly enough, even though it’s mostly animal noises…it’s better than some voice acting in other light gun games. I’m looking at you, Vampire Night (Which is otherwise a lot of fun BTW)!

The music is Wicked Monsters BLAST! is surprisingly catchy. I found myself humming the main track to the game when not playing it and the other tracks are also a lot of fun as background noise to boot. It’s not something I’d by a soundtrack for, mind you, but it synchs nicely with the game and the entire score is fun, with a single memorable track.

Sound effects are fun, but most of what you will here is the firing of your gun. If you listen to the rest of the game over the din of bullets blazing though, you’ll hear a nice little variety of noises that enhances the overall experience.

Wicked Monsters BLAST! isn’t especially impressive aurally, but it does have enough range and variety to make things enjoyable. It’s a budget game done right.

Sound Rating: 6.5/10

4. Control and Gameplay

Have you ever played a light gun game? If not, all you need to know if that you hold the wiimote, aim your crosshairs and shoot. That’s really all there is to it. When you involve more than one player, you’ll also have the option to gain and use items that can adversely affect other players by pressing the A button, but for the most part, all you need to do is aim and press B. Unlike a lot of light gun games you also have unlimited ammo. For younger and casual gamers, this is a plus, while more diehard fans of the genre might find this to be too easy.

You have twelve different playable mini games and here now is a quick list of them.

1. Number Lesson. Here you’ll shoot numbers in increasing order. The catch is you have to memorize where they are. This is pretty easy in single player but can get pretty difficult with four full gamers as each player has their own set of numbers to keep track of and you don’t want to shoot the wrong one, or anything out of order.

2. Posture Hunt. Here you’re aiming for an exact duplicate of the same target you have in the middle of the screen.

3. Lazy Brain Attack. Here you have to shoot the students when they start to act up. You can also shoot the teacher for amusing results.

4. Craft Wreck. Here you’ll shoot blocks of steel, wood and the like to create a sculpture. You’ll also have to shoot missiles coming at you and the occasional bonus point cylinder.

5. Dizzy Quizzy. Here you’ll be given two pictures and you’ll have to shoot the one side of the screen or the other depending on if the two pictures match.

6. Barrel Shock. Basically a mini boss fight. You’ll have to shoot a character hiding in a barrel who throws stuff at you.

7. Fussy Menu. Shoot the correct food items into the mouth of a whale. What food shows up and the style of conveyer belt are constantly changing.

8. No Mercy For Hippo. By far the weirdest of the games. Keep a guy from feeding hippos at the zoo while ensuring they also get their correct food and shoot hippos that try to eat player characters. Very weird, but fun.

9. King of the King. The boss fight. You just have to shoot the boss enough times for him to go down while deflecting his attacks.

10. Bottles Battle. The goal here is to shoot out Mr. Yuri’s entire liquor cabinet while he throws stuff at you.

11. Dime Crisis. This is a bank robbery. Think of it as a simple Time Crisis for tots.

12. Desert Striker. Here you shoot the onslaught of incoming missiles at you. This is actually a three stage event. Kind of neat.

As you can see, there isn’t a lot to each of the stages. You also don’t have a life bar or anything like that. The goal is simply to get as many points as you can in each mini game. In arcade mode you DO have a life bar of three segments. In each of the eight mini games you’ll randomly be assigned to play, you’ll have a specific score you have to meet or beat. If you fail, you’ll get to continue on, but you’ll also lose a life. Lose all three lives and it is game over.

Again, this is a fairly simplified light gun game for younger or more casual gamers, but if you’re a fan of the genre at all, you’ll enjoy the surprisingly tight controls in this budget game (compared to say, the horrible mess that was Capcom’s high-budget Resident Evil The Darkside Chronicles). The mini-games are easy enough to learn and short enough that they don’t get boring or lame. The variety and randomness helps to keep things interesting and gameplay is a lot of fun, especially when you start mixing in other Wiimotes into the game.

Control and Gameplay: 8/10

5. Replayability

Arcade mode alone can last you a while as you’ll get eight very different (but adorable) stories to play through. Survival Mode is there for those that think single player arcade is too easy, and family mode takes a bit of randomness out of the game. When you also include the fact that every mode of the game allows up to four players at once, that’s pretty good. Most light gun games are only for one or two players, so the fact a budget game does something a lot of big budget games don’t is impressive on its own.

As well, even though I prefer something like Umbrella Chronicles or House of the Dead: Overkill, Wicked Monsters BLAST is more inviting to people new to light gun games and is something you can play with anyone, regardless of skill or age. I can’t really say that about Overkill as it’s not a game you would give to nuns or children. Wicked Monsters BLAST! provides an enormous amount of replay value, especially when you factor in that $19.99 price tag. It’s not a game you’ll play for long stretches, but it’s certainly one worth coming back to again and again if you use your Wii with friends.

Replayability Rating: 7/10

6. Balance

Wicked Monsters BLAST! offers three difficulty settings and each one is noticeably harder than the last. As well, like any good multiplayer game, the game gets harder based on the number of people playing. This comes from the increased chaos, being able to use negative status inducing items on each other and competition for points. Single player arcade does tend to be the easiest way to play the game, but it’s also how you unlock everything, so that’s kind of nice in that respect. What else is interesting to note is that the number of points needed to “pass” each mini game changes based on the order they are played in. Some of them even gave me a bit of a pause and I can beat something like House of the Dead 3 without a continue. So it’s nice to see that gamers of all skill levels can still be challenged by this thing. Again, little kids will have fun with this, as will casual gamers, which makes this a nice addition to any light gun fan’s library. Is it noticeably easier than a lot of the light gun games that are specifically geared for adults and a T/M rating? Well, yes. It’s an all ages game after all. But it’s still a very well balanced one that offers gamers a wide array of challenges and difficulty settings.

Balance Rating: 7/10

7. Originality

I can’t think of any other four player light gun style games out there. Most of them are one or two players. I also can’t think if too many that also double as mini-game collections. I CAN think of mini-game collections that have a light gun game option amongst others, like the Raving Rabbids titles. Perhaps the closest I can think of to Wicked Monsters BLAST! is the old Super Scope 6 for the SNES but it is still kind of apples and oranges.

You have an interesting story mode with eight very unique and whimsical characters, a dozen mini games and the ability to have four gamers shooting things at once. Wicked Monsters BLAST! doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does put a fresh coat of paint on things. Hmm, I don’t think I’ve seen too many painted tires. Stupid mixed analogies.

Originality Rating: 6/10

8. Addictiveness

I had a lot of fun with Wicked Monsters BLAST!. It’s cute, has a lot of variety, offers a story for each playable character and sates my inner light gun addict for less than twenty dollars. That’s pretty good for a budget game. More importantly, Wicked Monsters BLAST! impressed me enough to add it to my permanent Wii collection, making it the fourth light gun game for the system (God knows I’ve played more than that for the Wii though…). It’s short enough that I can play through arcade mode in about fifteen minutes, it’s fun enough that I don’t get bored, it’s got very accurate firing without any lag, and on higher difficulty, some of the mini games provide enough of a challenge to even the most seasoned fan of the genre. It’s very well done and it’s something I’ll be coming back to, both by myself and with friends, for quite some time.

Addictiveness Rating: 7/10

9. Appeal Factor

Wicked Monsters BLAST! has something for everyone. It’s kid and casual gamer friendly, while offering higher difficulty settings for long time fans of the genre. It’s got amusing characters, each with their own unique and humorous story to tell. As I learned while playing this, people even enjoyed watching me play Wicked Monsters BLAST! and commented on the cuteness.

Now the cuteness might be it’s only really drawback as most light gun fans are used to gore and extreme violence, which is nowhere to be found in this game. Being easier and also light hearted can be enough to turn some gamers off a title and Wicked Monsters BLAST! is probably no exception. Still, if you’re looking for a solid Wii game and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better budget game released for the system this year.

Appeal Factor Rating: 7/10

10. Miscellaneous

For only $19.99, you’re getting a very solid light gun game that performs better than some full priced high budget games from A-Name publishers. Arcade mode is short, but there aren’t too many light gun titles that last longer than an hour for the whole experience. I won’t lie – I went in with extremely low expectations for Wicked Monsters BLAST! and found myself pleasantly surprised with the end result. The characters are cute and memorable and I could easily see Corecell turning this into a franchise, both with light gun based sequels or spin-offs like platformers or action games. Hell, when I first saw it, I thought it was a licensed game about some cartoon I am too old and out of the loop to know about.

Wicked Monsters BLAST! is exactly what a budget game should be. It features tight controls and fun gameplay while making the most of an engine built with limited dollars. It looks and sounds nice, offers some variety, is highly accessible to anyone and is priced perfectly for what it offers. It might not be the best game on the Wii, but it is one that you shouldn’t let fall under the radar and proves that smaller companies are just as worth checking out as the ones that blare commercials for their products on prime time.

Miscellaneous Rating: 8/10

The Scores
Story/Modes: 7/10
Graphics: 6.5/10
Sound: 6.5/10
Control and Gameplay: 8/10
Replayability: 7/10
Balance: 6/10
Originality: 6/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Appeal Factor: 7/10
Miscellaneous: 8/10
Total Score: 69
FINAL SCORE: 7.0 (GOOD GAME!)

Short Attention Span Summary
Wicked Monsters BLAST! is one of those budget games that manages to surprise you by being far better than you could have expected. It features three modes, eight playable characters (each with their own playable storyline) and twelve different types of light gun based mini-games. The game’s MSRP ranges from $19.99 for just the game to $34.99 for the game with two blasters. It’s definitely worth playing although longtime light gun aficionados might eschew the game for its unlimited ammo and easier default difficulty setting. Still, it’s by far the most inviting light gun game for casual and younger gamers that I’ve played in years and the fact you can have up to four players shooting away at once is both a literal and figurative blast.

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