You may think that they’re cute, fluffy and cuddly but rabbits have a darker, more deadly side… Deep down they are only after one thing – carrots – and they’ll stop at nothing to get them. You’re the last hope to protect your crop as the last good bunny around. Armed with nothing more than a carrot-spewing shotgun, you have to defend your farm from the oncoming waves of killer bunnies. It’s you or them as you protect your precious crops to the death…
I have to admit, that Blast ‘Em Bunnies is as ridiculous as I have just made it out to be. You take on the role of a rabbit, entrenched in a gun outpost and it’s just you against a never ending swathe of death-spewing critters who only have one thing on their minds – your demise (and tasty veg, of course). The game itself is a rather basic affair – taking control of the gun placement, you simply have to shoot everything heading towards you and last as long as possible. If any of the hostile bunnies get to you, you have mere moments to annihilate them before they attack and you lose on of your lives. Lose them all and, you guessed it, it’s game over and no more carrot soup for you!
The game itself… there are two basic game modes but each follows the same format. Using your preferred control method (I’ll explain this in a moment) you aim your gun at the endless wave of rabbits heading towards you. There are several different types that will attack, each with different abilities and you will need to take a different approach to defeating each one. Runners – as their name implies – are fast-footed and need to be taken out quickly before they get to you, whereas Walkers are bulkier, more hardy but you can take your time over them. Blockers are tougher as they are carrying shields with them for protection but the most annoying are the Grenadiers… who are determined to defeat you by any means possible, usually by whatever missiles they can fire at you!
Each time you defeat a bunny, they drop coins behind and shooting these will pick them up. At random intervals, power-up boxes will appear and shooting these will drop different weapons or bonuses to help during play. Weapons only last for a short period of time but usually give you enhanced firepower (in the early stages of the game) or change your current weapon and can give you a much needed helping hand. It’s not as simple as that though… you didn’t expect it to be though, did you? Your weapon is prone to overheating if you fire too rapidly so you have to be careful not to shoot too quickly so pick your shots wisely!
Now, reading the last part many of you are wondering what the coins are for and may have deeper concerns about the game… The coins are used in the game’s internal store to purchase power-ups, upgrade your weapons and improve other aspects of the game but you’d be correct to have reservations. Despite being on sale for £3.99 in the PSN Store, this was released with DLC on day one. The core game has all the weapons and adversaries so it’s enough to get stuck in and play, but only comes with one area to play in – a desert canyon leaving the game looking tired and repetitive after a while. Five additional themes (and skins for the different bunny types) are available for purchase with sets costing almost the same price as the game itself. To buy the whole lot will cost several times the game’s original asking price. It left me wondering whether or not releasing this as Free To Play would have been a better move and then leaving the themes and skins as optional as they are? As it stands, the rest of the in-game purchases are easily obtainable through play, but it’s just this part that left a bitter taste quite early on.
Ignoring that aspect of the game for a moment, upon loading you’re thrown straight into the game’s tutorial which teaches you the basic mechanics of the game, Using the analogue stick you move your gun to aim at the oncoming rabbits. Pressing R will fire your current weapon and that’s basically it. You’ll be introduced to the different types of bunnies, how the game is structured and how you can upgrade weapons, select your equipment and so on. What struck me immediately on loading the game was just how frustrating the controls were though and within a minute or two of playing the tutorial I was close to giving up on the game and writing it off as a bad purchase.
Why? For a game like this that takes a first-person view and approach to shooting, you’d expect it to adopt the same control system as most first person shooters but not Blast ‘Em Bunnies. Pushing left or right on the analgogue stick moves the gun in the corresponding direction, but frustratingly pushing up moves the gun up and pushing down points the gun downwards. This may seem like a trivial thing to pick a game up on, but if you’re not comfortable with how a game plays, I’d say it’s pretty important and thrusting the player head first into the game with unwielding controls is more than a little unfair as I’d expect that most players would have preferred inverted controls.
Once you’ve played through the tutorial this can be changed in the game’s settings, but why the opportunity wasn’t available from the start was beyond me. At the same time, the game also offers motion controls for targetting. This is great for those of you who love that method of gameplay but this is functional in parallel with the physical controls and has to be turned off manually. Unless you are aware of it, you could be trying to play the game using the analogue stick only to find that the way that you hold your PS Vita is hindering your progress through the game!
So once you’ve got the tutorial out of the way, the first step is to dive straight to the settings and get the controls just how you like them. Common sense, I know but more important than ever in this case. Secondly you need to head over to the PlayStation Store and check out the DLC for the game. There is a solitary free add-on for the game that is worth getting – a permanent bonus that you can activate that doubles the value of all the coins you collect in the game. Makes life a lot easier and certainly helps to deal with the early hours of gameplay better as you struggle to afford the upgrades.
Once you start playing the game proper, you have a choice of two game modes – Slaughter (which is set against a two minute time limit where you just have to kill as many bunnies as possible) or the main Survival Mode. This is spread across a never ending number of waves comprising of groups of attacking bunnies coming at you from all directions. Initially there are two difficulty levels (a third is unlocked later in the game) although I didn’t really notice much difference. To start, both difficulty settings quickly become frustrating until you’ve had the chance to upgrade your weapons as your initial firepower and allocation of lives won’t help you a great deal.
Eventually when you do succumb to the onslaught you’ll be given a run-down on your performance, and kill-tally and this is where some potential longevity is brought into play. As with one of my favourite time-wasters on the PS Vita, Jetpack Joyride, you’re given three missions to complete as well as a fourth daily mission. On completion of these, you’re awarded bonus coins and the mission is then replaced with another. Missions are generally based on killing fixed numbers of certain types of rabbits, boss rabbits, or collecting set numbers of coins (or combinations of the above), but it does add a bit more diversity to the gameplay. It’s not as deep or challenging as the missions in Jetpack Joyride though and doesn’t really give you a sense of achievement when you complete any of them.
For me this is really where the game struggles. The only thing I found that kept me coming back in the short term was the drive to keep earning coins to upgrade my weapons. I didn’t really get any enjoyment out of completing missions, increasing levels (through collecting coins) didn’t seem to do anything other than unlock more missions but that never felt like an achievement and the graphics and sound were nothing spectacular either – just really function. The best way I can really describe it is that the whole game just seemed to be bland and soulless, and playing it felt more like a chore than anything else.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard it tries, Blast ‘Em Bunnies also didn’t really come across as being a console title but something better suited for a Facebook or mobile audience. It may be okay to play in very short bursts but you’ll tire of it very quickly. Certainly for what it offers it’s overpriced and should have either offered more initial content, the ability to unlock more of the DLC through extended gameplay or even the basic game as presented here completely free and then left the remainder as optional DLC. I’ve said before in other reviews that I don’t object to paying for some content for F2P titles that I enjoy playing, but when games are released like this in what feels like an unfinished state and we’re being asked to pay extra to get what should be included in the game as standard, then I feel cheated and with a bitter taste in my mouth.
At A Glance
- Title: Blast ‘Em Bunnies
- Publisher: Nnooo
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: Yes (PS Vita / PS4)
- Cross Play: No
- Cross Save: Yes
- Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Required: 286Mb
- PlayStation TV Compatible: Yes