Boomerang X

Playing the upcoming Boomerang X, I was reminded of a few games I’ve played. First and foremost, it was giving me some serious Serious Sam flashbacks. I love the not-so-serious Serious Sam series, so Serious Sam flashbacks are seriously a good thing.

Serious Sam aside, Boomerang X also reminded me a little bit of Sludge Life, a graffiti platformer that was released on PC last year. Both games are published by Devolver Digital, though Boomerang X is developed by Dang! The two titles share colorful cel-shaded visuals, they’re both first-person action games, and they both remind me of games that would’ve appeared on the PS2.

With games like this, it’s easy to let nostalgia take over and warp us back to some fond after-school memories. You know, the days when you couldn’t wait to get out of school and fire up the N64 and your favorite 3D platformer. But sometimes nostalgia clouds our judgment — by that I mean that Boomerang X, for as old-school as it may feel, doesn’t exactly go back to the late ‘90s, but rather the early 2000s.

And I have to say, it’s kind of nice to play a game that transports me back to that specific era.

Boomerang X

The reason I get PS2 vibes from Boomerang X is its offbeat style. There was a grittiness to the PS2, and games like Twisted Metal Black, Sly Cooper, and War of the Monsters reveled in that grittiness. These were games that were fun thanks to their mechanics, but were also just a bit off-kilter, tonally speaking. Truth be told, Boomerang X would’ve fit right in with those games.

Though stylistically the game is like a trip back to the PS2 days, I can’t help but go back to my insane Serious Sam rambling when I think about the actual gameplay. That’s because Boomerang X is right in line with arena shooters like Sam Stone’s escapades and, to a degree, the Doom franchise. You’ll enter tight spaces filled with waves of enemies, and you’ll have just enough room to run backward while you throw your sharp boomerang at them.

Of course, you can’t always run backward and hope for the best. That’s how you end up getting hit by the soot spider-looking enemies and weird, floaty things. Sometimes you’ll have to charge forward, but like a classic arena shooter, Boomerang X requires you to constantly be on the move.

Boomerang X

The main difference between this game and those shooters is that you don’t get crazy guns. Instead, true to the game’s title, your boomerang is your trusty weapon of choice at all times. This boomerang is your sole means of survival. You’ll use it to take down hordes of baddies in tight arena stages, all the while moving at a brisk pace. Brief moments of respite lead to even tougher challenge rooms, and it isn’t long before the game gets pretty difficult.

Boomerang X does a great job of keeping things interesting. As you move to new areas, you’ll unlock different abilities. You can charge your throw, which allows you to chuck that sucker much farther. Eventually, defeating two or more enemies with a single throw will allow you to perform a zap attack immediately after, which takes out groups of enemies in your line of sight.

But the biggest move you’ll obtain in Boomerang X is probably the air dash — the reason being that air dashing not only helps with combat, but also with overall movement. You’ll use this move to reach new heights, avoid pitfalls, and battle hard-to-reach enemies. You can also slow down time while charging your boomerang throw, and doing this while after air dashing means you get all sorts of suspended control over combat.

There’s definitely a learning curve to mastering the slick moves of Boomerang X, and the game can feel a little rough around the edges at times. But even then, pulling off attacks while suspended high above the your enemies right after a few air dashes is pretty cool. Not to mention, it’s just really fun seeing what kinds of challenges and upgrades the game will throw at you next.

Boomerang X

Admittedly, Boomerang X is a little bit niche, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a fairly different take on the arena shooter genre, and it offers up a fun cel-shaded visual style and quirky-yet-challenging gameplay to keep things fresh. If you’re at all a fan of arena shooters or enjoyed the offbeat nature of early 2000s action games, this is a game to watch.

Boomerang X is due out on Nintendo Switch and PC this year.

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