Pulling on your action-platformer heart strings is just what Biolab Wars is hoping to do! But is it worth its weight in dollar bills?
The Nostalgia Buck
Browsing the dollar deals and deep discounts on the Nintendo eShop and Steam store can sometimes be like trying to find a toy in a dollar store that won’t disintegrate the second you get it home. But occasionally you’ll come across that killer deal that justifies the existence of these dollarama extravaganzas!
Personally, I haven’t had much luck arguing the case for a dollar store yet, but when it comes to video games, Contra inspired buck busters are just the ticket! Like this week’s Backlog Buck Club pick – Biolab Wars by Kolibri Game Studio!!
Recently released and with a list price of $1.99 this retro throwback is a deal even at its regular price, so it was no question that we’d have it as one of our picks for the Buck Club! And I’m guessing it’s that ode to the action platformers of yore that gave it a leg up in our poll!
Honestly, I can’t blame the enthusiasm, because running, gunning and shooting aliens (or robots) in the face, is just my cup of tea!
The Dollar of My Eye (Graphics and Music) - 14 / 25¢
Whether it’s looking at the cover art, watching the trailer or playing the first 5 seconds of the game, Biolab Wars’ retro influenced aesthetics are more than apparent. And I can certainly appreciate a good pixel or two, but Biolab’s execution of this style is neither here nor there.
For the most part the character art felt simple and the animations were a little more awkward then I would have wanted. But I will say that the enemy and boss designs were goofy and fun, and the details in the backgrounds were quite impressive! Including their implementation of parallax scrolling!
But a good retro game isn’t worth its salt without a good soundtrack and I think Biolabs music is just about there. It had a few really catchy tunes that set the mood for the stage and had me humming along, but all in all, I couldn’t see myself listening to it outside of the game. Not to say it was forgettable or anything, it was just not memorable.
Coin-tagious (Gameplay and Replayability) - 13 / 25¢
Now, you can have all the fancy graphics in the world (or not), but the true meat of a game like Biolab Wars, is it’s gameplay. It’s what makes you want to come back time after time to get that high score or brag to you friends that you 1CC’d that sucker!
Well, I can definitively say that Biolab Wars was super fun to play! It has just what you’d be looking for in an action platformer (enemies to shoot, multiple weapons, big bosses), but with a few caveats. For one, the jump physics felt a little off and it was too easy to miss the mark and fall in a pit! I primarily blame that on how dang difficult it was to judge where you were going to land and how far you were going to jump. Top that off with a control scheme that felt unnatural and frustration was inevitable. Though a simple fix would have been to add the ability to change the button layout. That alone would have made a huge difference!
Aside from wanting to see yourself on the high score leaderboard, there really isn’t much incentive to play Biolab Wars more after you beat it. The fact that its extremely short works in it favor, but because there is literally no difference between each of the characters (short of their sprites), the variety just isn’t there to keep you interested.
Give No Quarter (Is it worth the sale price?) - 25 / 25¢
One thing I won’t hesitate in saying though, is that Biolab Wars was more than worth the $0.99 that we paid for it! And despite its flaws I wouldn’t think twice to recommend it if you can get it at a discount.
It may be a bit wonky and it could certainly do with a few improvements, but I had a blast!
Dollars and Sense (Is it worth the list price?) - 19 / 25¢
And the same could be said about the game if I was to buy it at full price! I mean, it is only $1.99 even when it’s not on sale, so it isn’t much of a commitment. But I definitely wouldn’t feel buyers remorse if I didn’t wait for the price to drop.
That being said, that’s only because I’ve played it. If I was browsing the store blind without any prior knowledge, I would probably hesitate. And that’s primarily due to its presentation. It has that almost there quality to it, that screams retro for the sake of being retro, instead of celebrating what truly made those games special.
However, I did play it, and I can honestly say you should play it too. It may only be an approximation of Contra especially if you’re a die hard fan but with a few tweaks Biolab Wars could really be great! And as long as you know what you’re getting into, I think you’ll have fun!