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Boost Beast (Switch) artwork

Boost Beast (Switch) review

"Boost Beast tries to do something a bit different, but the results are more frustrating than they are enjoyable."

Boost Beast is a puzzle game developed by Arzest, the studio most recently known for its work on some high-profile 3DS titles for Nintendo. Don't let that pedigree fool you into expecting much, though, as this particular outing is a dud.

The idea of the game is that zombies are invading. You lead an army of furry critters that have taken it upon themselves to save the rest of us from that foul horde. Undead foes slowly wander in from the right, until you either defeat them all or you perish in the attempt. You send out your units to do battle with the unwelcome visitors, which slows their advance or in some cases even knocks them back a bit... but only if the units you deployed are a matching color. If you send a red puppy to bite a blue zombie, that just won't work. Don't ask me why.

Boost Beast (Switch) image

To actually unleash your units, you must match three to five icons in a line or an L pattern. Yes, Boost Beast is a match-3 game. However, the fact that most matches do you no good whatsoever means you have to play it a bit differently than you normally might in order to win. The unusual dynamic had the potential to be quite interesting, but unfortunately it proves frustrating instead.

Before I discuss what doesn't work, I'd like to give props to whoever produced the game's visuals and audio. A catchy tune plays while you do your thing, and it keeps things suitably lighthearted. Visually, the game matches that jaunty ditty's tone, with zombies that look more Plants vs. Zombies than George Romero. Backgrounds are colorful, and some of the bosses you face are quite expressive. Both visually and aurally, the developers did a good job.

But like I said, the game is extremely frustrating. That's true for a variety of reasons. In my opinion, the primary culprit is the limited number of turns. Early on, it's not a problem. Later stages present more advanced scenarios, though, and they don't always give you time to get to work before you're dinner for brain gobblers.

Boost Beast (Switch) image

Strictly speaking, your goal is always to send out enough of the properly colored critters to fend off however many waves of zombies might be headed your way. But there are special tiles that make a nuisance of themselves and force you to adopt unconventional strategies or prioritize in very specific ways. Some tiles will generate additional zombies as long as they're left in play. Others render any approaching zombies invincible until the lot of them are removed from the field. And there are a lot of cages that you can't move and instead must break open by maneuvering adjacent pieces into place. Sometimes, you'll face multiple hazards at once.

You usually have around five turns before the zombies reach you, and you need to make the most of them in order to survive. Some stages have oddly shaped fields, though, with most of the tiles locked as a stage begins. So you might only have precisely one move available, and it might do you no good whatsoever. Then new pieces slide in from above, and they might be similarly useless. Then, because there's nothing playable, the game might shuffle the pieces around, and you get to spend another turn trying to make something happen there before yet another shuffle. On the later maps, I would sometimes have to try three or four times before I would get a decent opening move or two. There's no quick "retry" option, either. You have to exit out to the map and then load the level again, which is almost as annoying as playing through a quick match you know is doomed.

Boost Beast (Switch) image

To mitigate the issue, the developers provide players with four power-ups. These clear the field of every piece of a certain color, or detonate a bomb that obliterates everything within a certain radius, or shuffle the pieces one time at your command, or blast across the field in an X formation. However, these moves are not always available. If you use one, you have to then wait for it to recharge, which could take a match or two... or three. So it feels like a waste to use one, even though it might prove useful, unless you're reasonably sure you can actually go on to win that particular stage.

I grew tired of the game pretty quickly, but I wanted to see if it got better. So I played through chapter after chapter. There are 12 of them in all, with an average of something like 18 stages each (the actual number varies from one to the next). That means you get a lot of puzzles, enough to keep you busy for probably 15 or 20 hours if all goes well. That's good news if you happen to like the game's design more than I did, but I suspect most players won't bother to clear even half of the stages on offer.

When I started playing Boost Beast, I knew it was a match-3 puzzle game. And no, that fact didn't deter me in the slightest. I actually tend to enjoy such titles quite a lot, when they're competently designed and I'm in the right mood (which I was in this case). But Arzest's design simply didn't work for me. It got too tedious too quickly, and there were no real rewards for progression other than the promise of additional puzzles and frustration. I do like it when developers try something new, but I like it even better when the results are enjoyable.


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Staff review by Jason Venter (August 27, 2017)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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