We’ve seen a lot of physics-based puzzle games since Angry Birds hit its current pop culture status, but Bizango Blast [$.99] is one of a handful that has something new to share. Rendered in 3D and presented in first-person, creator Olivier Archer’s game attempts to be a more in-your-face experience, while still being centered on perspective and angles of approach. Sadly, the only thing it knocks out of the park are its Unreal Engine visuals. The real meat of the game -- the physics, the puzzle design, and the canon play -- feels clumsy and unpredictable at the best of times, and flat-out bad the rest of the time. It’s a unique attempt, but not recommended.

Like most fixed-turret games, the nuts and bolts are wildly simple. You control a turret and the trajectory of its ammunition. The goal is to knock down physics-enabled constructs which nest a special object or objects. In this specific case, you’re firing balls at satellites sitting atop flimsy towers made of materials like wood or concrete.

The first-person perspective is actually kinda neat since it forces you to think around the 3D towers. Want to hit a satellite sitting behind a thick cement shield? You’ll need to pull the trajectory of the ball way up and give the firing mechanism just enough steam to crest and then hit behind the wall. You can also employ brute force tactics, but where's the fun in that?

Within these physics-based mechanics is where the game falls apart. Bizango’s engine is stupidly unpredictable. It’s also prone to technical errors. I’ve run into issues with objects hanging in the air with no supports on several occasions. Also, balls can clip through barriers completely or take wild bounces off of supports and deal zero damage to what you hit initially.

While I can take a bug or two under normal circumstances, these are catastrophic. The entire game is built around the core conceit that the physics engine is reliable and there just isn’t any actual reliability to be had. When the game introduces the egg (a breakable object that you're tasked to save from calamity), this unpredictability causes way to many problems. It becomes almost unplayable.

I’m also having trouble sussing out what the puzzles want me to do. Bizango isn’t so great at telegraphing via design, which has led me into spirals of testing each individual little shot I take. A bit of direction isn’t a bad thing, especially when you’re laser-locked into first-person perspective and having to be brutally precise with the trajectories and angles of attack. On a positive note, the cel-shaded art direction displayed in its levels is pretty cool.

Bizango strikes me as a game that needed more time in the oven. When it works, it’s satisfying and scratches a new itch that I never knew I had, but the times when everything clicks are rare. Skip this one for the time being, but also take note that more and more independent developers are starting to dabble in UDK. I don't know if this has anything to do with the significant royalty change or not, but it's appear as if we're finally hitting that influx of games we've been expecting.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://twitter.com/accessoriesipad Stephen Markas

    Boy, after that Bonkheads review, you guys keep talking about scratching itches... is there a case of bed bugs going around the TA headquarters? :D

  • http://www.bizangoblast.com Archerx

    Thanks for the review, I'm working on an update that resolves most of the issues, there will be no more floaty blocks next week and the physics should be way more responsive.

  • Mikay

    Tell me how come this guy did get 2nd time on front page with a WIP(work in progress) product?
    I mean, i see everything on front page on this site...
    I don't care what is your policy for putting something in front but c'mon people... don't put anything in front.

    Archerx - no hard feelings, i wish you all the luck  and i know you're working on this one alone but you could join with someone (a friend?) who got good experience with texturing stuff.
    You did make it a little better then the last time you were on TA but still it isn't that good and UDK CAN do better + you don't use that many graphic that would give you memory problems on older devices. (if it works there)
    And you should give to your friends the game for testing so they could find bugs for you.
    You as the developer can't find all the bugs there are (i know that).

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      What?

    • http://www.bizangoblast.com Archerx

      It was a lot to manage and no I don't have local friends that do 3D, I really wish I did though. The thing is that the game is a physics based game and that requires a lot of processing power so it come out of the graphics. Of course I could make it look better but then it wouldn't run on the 3Gs. It wasn't easy but I think I made the best choices between physics and graphics performance.

      I have taken a lot of the Feed back from the review and update the game massively.

      First off it's no longer 550mb but now a cool 138mb! There is a new aiming system for those who want less of a challenge (the camera swings around with cannon) and the physics have been much improved + lots of other little tweaks!

      I hope everyone gives it a second shot because I did try and fix the issues as best as I could!

Bizango Blast Reviewed by Brad Nicholson on . Rating: 2