THE FACT SHEET
RELEASE DATE: March 23, 2011
DEVELOPER: Hothead Games, Inc.
ESRB RATING: “T” for Teen
PRODUCT OVERVIEW: An action-platformer where you take direct control of 50 pudgy blue morons and drive them through an intense and suicidal gauntlet of destruction. Run, bash, huddle, boost, stack, jump, push and throw your way through a ridiculously dangerous world in your attempt to collect valuable DNA and ensure at least one swarmite survives. Swarm features fast-paced platformer action and includes death medals, boss fights and a scoring system that encourages heated competition with your friends.
- Control Multiple Swarmites at One Time
- Xbox LIVE Leaderboards
When you first start Swarm you are greeted by a very nice help section which pages you through all of the fun (and frustrating) things you can do in the game. Swarm has a set of fairly simple controls which would be easy if you are controlling just one character. But in Swarm you are controlling up to 50 swarmites at one time. This concept is both fun and frustrating at the same time. The premise of the game is to guide your swarmites through a dangerous level and to rack up as many points as possible to please momma. Momma is depicted on the level select screen as an ever growing blob and then you see her tenticles on each level as you enter and exit your swarmites.
In the first few levels you get a low grade tutorial with large billboards in the background that show you how to get past your next obstacle. Also you can click Y to get a handy tip if you get stuck early in the game.
The idea of controlling up to 50 swarmites at one time works well but sometimes can be frustrating when a few swarmites get stuck behind objects and they are not smart enough to get around the object and get back to the group. There are other areas where a fan is blowing you swarmites in one direction while others are safely on a platform and you just have to sacrifice the swarmites that got stuck in the fans wind. The premise of this game will be conflicting to those of old school platformers. Essentially you have to kill of swarmites in order to progress. Typically you want to save all of your characters and get them to the end of the level. In this game you are actually encouraged to kill off as many as possible but save enough to make it to the next checkpoint or to the exit zone. It took me a while to really balance out how to effectively kill off the right amount of swarmites to get higher points but to also make it to the next checkpoint with at least one left.
Checkpoints are also a blessing and a curse. If you have a high point total when you reach the checkpoint its a blessing because every time you start back at that checkpoint you get a fresh swarm and keep your point total. But if you hit the checkpoint with a low point total then you would be better off restarting the level to achieve a higher score.
The boss battles are pretty lengthy and can be challenging at times. The bosses themselves are well designed and appropriate for the game. I really think the game could have included a few more boss battles but I think where they put them made the most sense.
Overall the graphics are excellent for an XBLA game. Although I did find it easier playing it on a 42 inch screen because some of the games details made playing on a small screen hard to pick up. You could also zoom in on certain areas when you have the time to investigate certain trap areas to help you find the best way to get through. One of my favorite parts of the game is the death animations. When you loose you last swarmite you are usually treated (or taunted) to a slow motion death animation of your last swarmite. And if you enjoy this type of death and dismemberment I suggest you push the button your told not to on the intro screen.
The level design is excellent. You get a variety of fire stages with rolling lava balls flying at you to electricity stages with bolts of lightning killing your swarmites off faster than you get new ones. There is also a stage that is almost complete darkness and you have to hurl lightning bug like creatures to help light your way. Or you can just run through it blind and hope for the best.
I wish you could really change the camera angle to play this game. Sometimes when jumping from platform to platform your swarm would just go to the left or right because of the depth not being factored correctly. The game tries to play like a side scroller but there are certain areas this just makes it that much more difficult.
Conclusion: This game is a great choice for the old school gamer who loves a challenge. But if you have some anger issues and an expensive TV I would suggest deep breathes because this game will tempt you into hurling a controller or two through the TV. It has a few drawbacks but overall the gameplay and level design really kept me going and wanting to get a new high score and to kill off more blue pudgy morons.
Single Player: 4/5 | Multi-Player: N/A
Special thanks to HotHead Games for providing us with a copy of this game for review.