Light gun mini-game compilations are unfortunately a thing of the past. Thankfully, these Wicked Monsters are here to breathe life back into the genre. Considering I'm a fan of these kinds of games, let's see how it holds up.
When I was a kid, I loved Namco's Point Blank light gun games. The crazy mix of multiplayer mini-games made aiming for that much sought after high score an exciting experience. Wicked Monsters Blast does a great job of emulating this feeling but within a whole new zany world. You get to play as an animal of your choice such as a samurai panda or a fish in a bowl with a robot body. Watching the story sequences starring these goofballs is a ton of fun considering how silly they are. One of my favourite scenes is one where the panda hones his skills to the point where he accidentally cuts everything around him in half. If you think that's nutty then the mini-games themselves are sure to impress. You'll do things such as provide answers for comparative equations, shoot matching images, fend off an oncoming UFO invasion, and defeat ridiculous boss characters.
Seeing as you can invite your friends over to play with up to four simultaneous chums, you're definitely in for a fun time. The main mode forces each player to do their best because if they don't get above each mini-game's threshold score, they get a point of health taken away. Once their health is fully depleted, they're out of the game. This sounds harsh, but it creates a constantly engaging dynamic that ensures only the best players will survive to the end. You could always sabotage whoever's in first place by using item pick-ups such as bombs that you can quietly pass along to them. Although some folks may get disqualified throughout each playthrough, being the player with the most amount of points by the end just feels awesome. Overall, this is thrilling arcade light gun action at its prime.
On top of the main arcade mode, you can also play games in a sequence of your choosing in family mode and challenge a single player survival mode. Seeing how far you can make it by yourself is rather enjoyable but you'll quickly miss playing with friends because that's where Wicked Monsters Blast really shines. As you play, you'll also unlock many rewarding features such as a handful of additional characters and arcade mode's character-specific cutscenes. Simply playing is fun enough on its own but unlocking these extras adds a layer of excitement. Who knows which wacky animal you'll get next? Maybe you'll even meet a unicorn...
This Wii U version is actually the third iteration of Wicked Monsters Blast. The first was available for the original Wii and the second for PlayStation 3. I mention this because one major problem exists only in this Wii U release which is the fact that at least one player needs to use the GamePad. I tried almost everything I can think of to play with only Wii Remotes but I could not figure out how to take the GamePad out of the mix. This is a huge problem for two reasons. First, this is a light gun game so tapping on a screen isn't even half as fun as pointing and shooting at the television. Also, if you're playing with friends then the person using the GamePad will probably win because it's so much easier to tap rapidly than aim and shoot. Speaking of aiming, the reticles sometimes get in the way of smaller targets which becomes annoying. My only other complaint is that after playing for a while, the mini-games start to become repetitive because you'll see the same scenarios over and over again. All of that being said, this is still a highly entertaining game.
Wicked Monsters Blast! HD+ is an amusing love letter to light gun mini-game compilations. Although the previous two versions of it are more enjoyable, this is still a worthwhile game for fans of the genre.
- + Crazy over-the-top light gun mini-games for up to four simultaneous players
- + Fantastic silly sense of humour
- + Rewarding unlockables boost replay value
- - At least one player must use the GamePad which is both unfair and not as fun
- - Aiming reticles often get in the way
- - Gameplay gets repetitive after a while