Antonblast Preview: Our Explosive First Impressions!

Arrogant, angry, drunk, abrasive, aggressive, adrenaline-filled, unconventional: get closer to the preview, Antonblast is coming!

You can't even imagine how joyfully we noted the arrival of Antonblast in November (it will be a tough wait), temporary exclusivity on Nintendo Switch and, above all, the possibility of trying it first-hand with one demo which we will try to summarize in thispreview. But let's start from the beginning: what is it about? Saying “platformer” is an understatement; it is more of a subgenre that is rediscovering its second youth recently, with the new nomenclature of “Wario-like”. This is a gameplay formula that we will explore further later, but which is having quite a bit of success with Pizza Tower on Steam and, even outside of platformers, with the bizarre DOOM mod, Treasure Tech.

What the development team Summitspherein collaboration with Joystick Venturesis creating is definable as a cross between the spiritual predecessor of Pizza Tower, Wario Land 4and another mainstay of platformers with an equally “crazy” protagonist: Crash Bandicoot. This particular mix starts from visual elements, such as the orange characters used in almost every text on the screen, to the soundfont of the soundtrack, passing through some gameplay elements, the sound effects and the names of some game areas. This doesn't mean you have to be fooled, though: it is a hard and pure Wario-like. From the “ramshackle” appearance of the protagonists and enemies, up to the daring final escape.

“Uncork, uncork, uncork, and pour some pleasure / without exaggerating, we need to celebrate” | Antonblast Preview

The plot by Antonblast, for the little outline that can be seen in the demo (in English, to the detriment of what we saw in Indie World) that we tried in preview, is quite minimal. The alcoholic wrecker Dynamite Antonaccompanied by his colleague Annie (clearly a refugee from Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga), ventures out to recover the “alcoholic spirits” (vintage liquor bottles) stolen by the devil. This is a very camp retelling of Satan, similar to the infamous “He” from The Powerpuff Girls (or better yet the Red, the equivalent from Cow and Chicken). The reason for the theft? Envy (which, all things considered, is a capital vice) towards the protagonist's ruddy skin.

Everything is expressed with a “weird” artistic direction in full Nickelodeon style, making the character design of the characters previously seen in Antonball Deluxe. We talk about “artistic direction” because the graphics enginefor its part, makes the title a Game Boy Advance game that found itself on Nintendo Switch by pure chance. Expressive sprites, yes, but manipulated and rotated with extensive use of Mode-7. The interface keeps the “modern” proportions intact, with elements such as health points, combo indicators, boosts and so on well spaced from each other, but with a minimum of screen crunch the game would have made a great impression even on the good old GBA.

Antonblast Preview: Our Explosive First Impressions!Antonblast Preview: Our Explosive First Impressions!

Sting and escape | Antonblast Preview

Let's talk for a moment about what it means to be a Wario-like. This is the definition of any platformer in which the protagonist can afford the luxury of defeating almost any basic enemy without worrying about patterns and weaknesses, as well as having the physical strength to destroy any obstacle in more or less the same way, in favor of a greater focus on exploration. All this, memorizing the level design properly for later retrace the path backwards with a timer once you reach the device that triggers it. The blocks that are tangible on the outward journey will no longer be tangible on the return journey and vice versa, thus allowing alternative routes to be adopted.

The timer in question, shouting “Hurry up!” in Wario Land 4 or simply “Pizza time!” in Pizza Tower, here it is called Happy Hour, but the basic idea is the same. As for the level design, however, expect a lot secrets: exploration is encouraged, yes, but this doesn't mean the game gives up left-handed shots. Quotationism is not done with words alone, and while the area called Dream Drop Distance made us laugh, the other entitled Slippery Climb really gave us the opportunity to tremble. Of course, it may happen that some secrets become accessible during Happy Hour: in this sense, for how long without life limits e in the absence of chasmsthe Wario-like genre knows how to play dirty.

Antonblast Preview: Our Explosive First Impressions!Antonblast Preview: Our Explosive First Impressions!

Casinos and casinos | Antonblast Preview

The innovations brought to the genre by younger exponents, such as Pizza Tower, also find a place. In fact, it emerges from the latter a system of combos and scores, which involves ringing together as many items collected (in this case, instead of coins we have casino chips) and enemies hit to maximize the score. There is no shortage of winks at the collectathon: they also have a place in each level three video cassettes to collect, not always very accessible. The “ignorant” moves such as rolling down slopes and shoulder thrusts return from the Wario Land series (plus the occasional single-use but collectible powerup at will), embellished however with Crash Bandicoot elements such as the ground slam and slides (the latter with the original sound effect).

On the other hand, the “four treasures” of the Wario Land 4 levels here mark the progress in a much more linear way, taking the form of four detonators inspired by French card suits. Each color is used to repaint the walls of the previously blocked path, making the experience much more user-friendly than other exponents of the genre. The accessibility of certain areas specifically focuses on finding the detonators, and of the two levels present in the demo the second (Cinnamon Springs, the most challenging) was able to fill the waits between one checkpoint and another with tension. Especially with the transitions towards the background and vice versa in Mutant Mudds style.

Antonblast Preview: Our Explosive First Impressions!Antonblast Preview: Our Explosive First Impressions!

“H-h-hurry up!”

We had to “Hurry up” too, because it's difficult to write a preview of Antonblast without having ten, a hundred, or a thousand other things to say. There Dynamite Demo that we tried has been available on Steam (the only other format outside of the consoles for which the game is intended) for some time, just as it will take a long time for the long-awaited day one. In fact, there is no mention of it before November 12making this one of our earliest previews for a video game in the modern era (where demos can even come out after the full game), but the hype from fans of the indie scene doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement (such as the softlock bug in a location in Cinnamon Springs, in the Sunset Antivista area).

Nonetheless, temporary exclusivity on Switch is a prestigious event now that the console is in its twilight. Besides being, of course, also an almost poetic choice. Behind the very technical side of the gameplay, between the inertia at every bounce and the possibility of chaining the shoulder thrusts with the same timing as the miniturbos of Crash Team Racing, lies an undisclosed sequel to Wario Land 4 capable of making even The Shake Dimension on Wii pale. Of course, with this we are not assuming that the enthusiasm for the game is well placed, but we reserve the right not to be surprised if, when the leaves fall, this is the case.

Antonblast Preview: Our Explosive First Impressions!Antonblast Preview: Our Explosive First Impressions!

Now it's up to you to tell us your opinion: what idea did you make of the title? Let us know below, and as always don't forget to stay on techgameworld.com for all the most important news for gamers and beyond. For your purely gaming needs, you can instead find the best discounts in digital format on Instant Gaming.