PEGBRJE: Drive to Hell and Hammer Bomb

Y’know, that’s a very large problem.

Drive to Hell is a linear bullet-hell shoot ’em up adventure made by Ghost Crab Games, an indie studio based out of the United States. After witnessing the best get exploded before their very eyes, two individuals set on a vengeful plot to destroy the Demon King for his actions; no matter how many demons he throws at them, and he throws a lot of them.

In a twist of the formula, players will be driving down an infinite highway on the way to the Demon King as they fire constant rounds at the constantly spawning horde rather than flying through the traditional space aesthetic. While visually being different, the ground contains hazards unfit for space exploration such as water traps that can seriously slow down the momentum of the car as it drives and cause handling issues. This is more important than it may seem as enemies also do not entire follow the ‘standard’ shmup rules either, for they spawn where ever they darn well please; they are trying to kill the duo after all. The gun that players receive also deviates slightly, as instead of just forward facing it has 360 degree control so that players can get those pesky demons in the corners. What this creates is a focus on movement as being in the centre is actually the safest place so that enemies don’t just attack the player from behind while the player has more time and ability to aim at the enemies as they attack. There is also a heavy importance on which vehicle is being utilized on runs thanks to different styles handling the environments in multitudes of ways; like how heavier vehicles cannot dodge but are unimpeded by terrain obstacles. It’s a clever way of putting a ‘unique’ twist on the genre without having to alter much of the core gameplay as a whole.

Speaking of which, shooting things is part of the game; and in every bullet hell shmup there’s usually some kind of power ups to accompany the flurry of enemy bullets. Weapons that replace the main gun will drop from enemies as players kill them, giving them a minigun or rockets to fire for a limited period of time before returning to the original weapon. All have their own destructive bullet pattern to assist in destroying the enemy, but I must say I will always take the missile rockets if they are available. Players also have access to special abilities that are tied to specific buttons that can be activated if the circumstances are right. The ‘Special’ is activatable if time has passed (there’s a little indicator that pops up) and, depending on the car, will activate a little explosion before setting off weapons for a short while. Truth be told, this is probably the only ability I couldn’t figure out exactly how it triggered, but it saved me enough times so I’m not complaining. The other three abilities are Nuke, Shield and Bomb which can only be utilized if the ammo drops for them. Once acquired, it will be stored in the player’s two slot inventory, meaning that only two out of the three specials can be equipped at any time; probably due to their sheer game changing power. Shields make the player invulnerable to damage for a set amount of time, which allows their multiplier to remain the same to keep speed and scores high. Nuke launches a warhead at a direction and completely destroyed everything and anything that it hits no matter where it is or what it is. Finally Bomb simply just removes all enemies from the screen.

Drive to Hell appears like a small and standard shmup, but offers so much more than expected within its 5 levels. The pixelated artstyle is absolutely gorgeous in its attention to detail and expressions, and the sound design is on point with crisp and distinct audio cues for everything from car crashes to simple powerup collections. Dying only makes players restart the wave rather than the whole level to allow for constant attempts, and the coins collected allow for purchasing new vehicles to try out and explore. Heck, there’s even local Multiplayer for all your shooting needs. If you’ve been itching for a shoot ’em up that wants to shakes things up a tad while still offering multiple ways to play, the this might be the title for you.

Screenshots are hard, ok.

Hammer Bomb is a mobile dungeon delver made by Crescent Moon Games, an indie studio and publisher out of the United States. Players will dive in to the depths as the glorious Sir Hammer Bomb, adventurer extraordinaire, to rescue the soldiers trapped within and destroy everything that stops him.

As one might have guessed from the botched screenshot, this is a mobile game that involves collecting a certain amount of fragments in order to continue to the next level. To explore, players simply swipe to alter he direction of Sir Hammer Bomb and tap to interact with any items that may be able to be picked up. Think of it similarly to an infinite runner, where we’ve secured our forward movement already, all that is needed is a direction. Navigating the dungeon will result in players running in to all sorts of things from loot to monsters, so understanding when to turn and go a different route is crucial. Sir Hammer Bomb also doesn’t have any weapons on his person by default, so make sure to not just run wild without exploring a bit first. Regardless of what items are found, by acquiring all of the fragments players can navigate to the exit and leave the dungeon level, which will tally up the time, currency and destruction caused to give extra points before moving onwards.

These items are what make Hammer Bomb interesting, namely the bombs that players can find. While at first this title appears relatively straight forward, bombs can actually reveal hidden pathways that players may have missed and unlock new perks or find new quests to go on. The voxel environment doesn’t naturally give off the aura of destructibility, but it was a fantastic addition as I suddenly wanted to check every wall to see if I could find what may be lurking behind. Players cannot return to floors that have been completed, which may cause some confusion when quests are discovered and there is nothing around to find; many quests will have their food goal in another floor, so do not be too worried.

For an endless dungeon title, Hammer Bomb does a fantastic job of spicing up expectations thanks to the infinite running style and focus on exploration thanks to destructibility. As this is the full ‘no ads’ version, players can get the full experience without having to worry about adbreaks or pauses, but this does seem to come with a catch as it took a bit of time to ‘sync’ up with the Play Store, as if it didn’t know what to do with the APK. This issue went away rather quickly, but was odd to witness at the beginning. The swipes can be a tad slow to respond as well, but that may have been my phone so I can’t really comment on that part. Regardless, if you are in the mood for infinite content in the style of running through dungeons with an infinity hammer or a crossbow, then this might be for you.

Links for the end

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Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.

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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.

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