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Play Expo 2012: Super Bread Box hands-on

Play Expo 2012

Super Bread Box is being developed as a new Commodore 64 title for entry into Retro Gamer CD’s yearly competition. A large serving of my time with the publisher at Play Expo was spent on a demo of this forthcoming release. It had been built exclusively for the expo and served up a tasty starter to get us interested in the manic full main course to come.

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Established in a single screen environment, my lazy journalist bone would sell this as ‘Bubble Bobble meets Teddy Boy’. But that would be selling it short and casting it aside as nothing new. What SBB slaps on the table is a madcap and refreshing retro blast.

Don’t own a Commodore 64?

For those without retro means or a craving to love and learn the history of videogames, SBB is based upon Vlambeer‘s Super Crate Box, currently available on PC and PS Vita store.

Commencing in the centre of a three tier room as a dog you have to collect as many crates as possible whilst avoiding a downpour of enemies from the topmost of the screen. Your score represents the quantity of crates collected, ignoring the number of enemies defeated or how long you’ve survived. A high score requires cunning, dexterity and a refusal to blink at all costs.

SSB’s twist is that each crate contains a random weapon that you’re forced to take. Starting with a pistol, you can discover a revolver, the disc gun from sci-fi horror flick Dark Angel, a shotgun, flamethrower, and more. The revolver took down most of the oncoming hordes in a single round, whilst the disc gun fired CDs that ricocheted back off walls and proved to be suicidal if your wits weren’t about you. And then there was my personal favourite – the minigun.

With rumble support not available with this technology, the minigun doesn’t so much roar as cause everything in-game to shake. Our character struggles to keep their feet planted on the ground and is tossed about by the recoil as a blur of rounds splatters everything in its path. The randomisation continues with the main character sprite changing with every few crates opened.

There’s something sincerely amusing about a tiny crocodile sprite leaping around and firing duel pistols like some warped John Woo dedication to banned childrens’ programme Around the Bend. The animation and sprites are inherently of a low pixel count but this doesn’t mean it appeared or ran crude. The restrictions result in every pixel being used resourcefully.

SBB carries the new spirit of indie titles such as Super Meat Boy and realises this in the original technological environments those dedications were born from. Take a single hit and you have to start again, your score reset to zero. Removing game over screens and loading ceases any interruptions and our little friend is immediately cast straight back into the carnage in a blink of an eye. This makes it easy to fall into the ‘one more go’ trap, which I certainly did.

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SBB made me grin like a Cheshire cat throughout. It was smart, quick, accurate, and entertaining. It’s further proof that low budget doesn’t automatically equate to low quality. This is a 90% homebrewed jar of fine videogaming moonshine. I may have to pick up a Commodore 64 in time for its limited end of 2012 release.

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

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