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Bounder Review: Get your retro fix with this mobile game

We’ve talked about Bounder before back when it was first announced. It was great to also have a chat with Matt Riz about the story behind bringing the game to mobile. Now, Bounder is finally available so if you’re wondering what it’s like, read on!

Quick disclaimer: I’m too young to have played Bounder on any of the original systems it came on so I can’t compare as much between old and new. In any case, I hope you stay to read my game tips towards the end!

Gameplay

Overview

The most important thing to remember about Bounder is that it’s got ‘3 modes’ so to speak. I call them modes because it’s the ‘same game’ but as it was presented on various systems.

Here are the 3 systems you can choose to play (in order of appearance in-game):

  • Commodore 64 (C64)
  • Amstrad CPC and
  • Spectrum 48K

Bounder Mobile Screenshot

I’m differentiating between these 3 systems now because they all have varying visuals, sounds, etc.

Inputs/controls

I’m so glad that there are 3 different input types. The 3 you’ll find to pick from are:

  • Joystick (default)
  • Swipe
  • Tilt

Bounder Mobile Screenshot

In terms of difficulty, I would say the joystick is the most difficult to use just based on sensitivity. Mind you, some people may want that much control when moving in-game. So, this is just based on my own personal experience ???? Otherwise, I would rate from most difficult to least: joystick, tile then swipe.

I could possibly argue that tilt is the easiest to use if only it didn’t mean messing about with how you view the game. I would say swipe is the easiest for a primarily mobile gamer like myself. It’s the input style I’m most used to and, other than the joystick means you can easily play with one hand. Here’s to playing while standing on a busy train!

Mechanics

Having played all 3 ‘systems’, I would say the only big difference in mechanics as such is that the Amstrad version resolution is smaller so the distance with which you move across the map seems a tad bigger than the C64 version. Same goes for the Spectrum version. Essentially, there is less map on the screen. I’ve never played the original game on any of these systems but I’m thinking the resolution is historically what you would have seen on those systems at the time.

If you’ve never played the game before, you may find it a bit difficult to play at first. Personally, I don’t see this as a bad thing because I like challenges and there’s something cool about retro games being more hardcore. Give it a few tries until you get a good idea of how player movement works, how mobs move and how close to platform edges you can move your character.

On the topic of platform edges, you can move quite close to the edge without falling off. You can also move backwards and sideways if you happened to have missed a bonus or a jump tile. The important thing to note is that the map is always scrolling.

Sound/ Music

This is one of those reviews where I’m gonna talk about the sound and music first because I think they’re more important.

Kudos to the developers for running separate sound/music for each system type. When you play the game, you’ll first notice the difference in the Bounder main theme playing in the background. If you listen closely, you’ll also notice all the sound effects are slightly different between the 3 systems. It’s really cool to get the ‘feel’ for each of the systems going by just the sound effects and music.

Visuals

First, let’s start with screenshots of each system:

C64

Amstrad

Bounder Mobile Screenshot

Spectrum

As you can see from the screenshots, each system is visually unique. In terms of visuals, my favourite is the Spectrum. The score and game info down the bottom is the easiest to read on mobile. Of course, while playing in black and white is difficult, again, it’s a cool challenge. You’ll find a little more colour as you progress through levels of course. The Spectrum visuals also feel the most retro of the three and I think that’s rather awesome ????

Final Thoughts

Again, I’ve never played the game on any of the original systems. So, I really hope for those of you that have played the original, you find this game very reminiscent. Even for someone who hasn’t played, the retro kick is strong.

I’m really glad someone put the time in to bring this game back to life since its first release 33 years ago in 1985. It would be easy to assume that an old game isn’t as good as a new game but I think this game shows that that’s not the case. Plus, ladies and gents, this isn’t an emulation: it’s been re-coded for mobile. How’s that for dedication to replicating the original?

Plus, for those of you that have kids who haven’t played retro games (especially of this age), a mobile game is the perfect way to teach them about video game history.

Tips/Tricks for first-time players

Now, to the real handy part of this review! Yes, Bounder is challenging but these tips should help you out:

  • Use the ⬆ tiles to get an extra jump boost
  • If you can, definitely go for the ? tiles to earn bonus lives
  • Play around with input methods to find what works for you. (Personally, I recommend swipe)
  • Don’t be afraid to ‘stand still’ as the map moves. You’ll get to see more of the map as it appears. It’s also a good way to plan where to move next. Use it as a way to wait for mobs to move away from you
  • Even if you’re ‘in the air’, you’ll still hit mobs so avoid moving into them in any circumstance
  • Follow the edges of platforms to avoid falling when you land on a space that looks like this:

Bounder Mobile Tip

Where to get Bounder

You can get the mobile game on iOS and Android. You can download the game for free and if you really really enjoy it, you can grab the full game for $2.99 on iOS and $3.99 on Android.

Hopefully, it won’t be long until it makes its way to the following platforms:

  • Switch
  • PS4
  • PS Vita
  • Xbox One

For more info, head to http://www.bounder.mobi/ or follow the Bounder team on Twitter at @Bounder_Mobile.

Header image: Swivel Creations

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Fran

Lifelong gamer with a fond love of RPGs, MMOs, puzzle games and mobile games.

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