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Bombardiers Guild Review: Planetary Physics Puzzler

Bombardiers Guild: The Path to Kamida from Quantum Toast is a unique puzzle app with a high-end design sense. In it, you take control of a space cannon, attempting to use the gravity of nearby planetoids to propel a missile, called a “trajectile”, with sufficient force to destroy an opposing cannon … before they get to you.

Each level, you face off against an opponent across a field of gravity-generating planetoids. You must fire your trajectiles one at a time, attempting to find the right twisting, winding path through the gravitational forces of the planetoids. Find the right shot, and gravity will sling the weapon into your enemy with enough power to break through his shield and destroy him. This is never a direct shot; your trajectiles simply isn’t strong enough on its own. Thus, it is a question of physics and trial-and-error.

The gravity mechanic takes some getting used to.  You have to spend a lot of time trying to dial in the exact combo of angle and power that will get your trajectile to your enemy, while using the gravitational pull of the planetoids to give it extra hitting power.  To help, the game provides hints in the form of contrails, supposedly suggesting the best path. Actually, it’s usually the only path that will work in a given level to deliver the trajectile with sufficient force to destroy the enemy. As such, the game boils down to a single objective: figure out the combination of numbers that will send the trajectile along the indicated path.

Its an interesting puzzle mechanic, albeit one that can get irritating. Like dialing into a secret code, the shot combo you must find is fairly precise; even little variances can send the trajectile flying off in wild directions (and even sometimes right back at you–there’s even an Open Feint achievement for taking yourself out). And then, once you’ve scored a hit, the planetoids shift a bit–ever so slightly–so that  the trajectile won’t follow the same path twice.

The whole exercise is given a sense of urgency by your AI opponent, who is trying to shoot you. These AI opponents come in a few flavors, from wild shooters to skilled bombardiers, and they WILL get to you if you take too long. In fact, the most frustrating moments in Bombardier are those where you dial in your shot just seconds after your opponent, and you explode before he does.

I do like the concept behind Bombardier General, but the game will not appeal to everybody. Some players are just likely to feel frustrated by the game mechanics as others are to really enjoy it. It is certainly not the sort of game for those who enjoy a dose of luck with their puzzles.

Visually, Bombardiers Guild sports a slick, Steampunk flavored design. Everything is burnished metal and glowy bits, all of it a treat for the eyes. The whole game is dripping with design sense. It’s retro-Victorian sci-fi premise will also appeal to many, with it’s talk of different space cultures and the civilized way they’ve chosen to work out their differences (the game itself is meant to simulate a sport in these cultures, not a war).It’s the sort of thing one expects Quantum Toast to revisit in future games, even those that aren’t direct sequels to Bombardiers Guild.

All in all, Bombardiers Guild will appeal to plenty of puzzle fans, and it carries with it an engaging sci-fi flavor that sets it a step above many other puzzle apps.It’s worth a download.

Our score: 4/5.

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