Bumper Stars in Review – When Beaver Met Peggle

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What happens when you take pinball, pool, Peggle and violently throw them all in a Blendtec blender and turn it to the maximum speed? Then, pouring the concoction on a tray and baking it in an oven at 350 degrees for ten hours? Well, as disgusting as that would sound, your result would be something like the highly addicting game called Bumper Stars, now for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

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I am not a fan of Facebook, therefore I was unaware that there were actually any good flash games on it. Having never heard of Bumper Stars before (even though it’s very popular among the Facebook, Mebo and Myspace communities), I was instantly intrigued by the fat-beaver-wearing-a-football-helmet-mascot. Though the objective – collect all the fruit within 3 turns to complete the level- seems simple, it gets extremely difficult and challenging as you progress through the game.

bumperstars_review3In Bumper Stars, the default character is a round beaver with a football helmet. You move the beaver by touching his body and dragging out in the direction you want him to go (an arrow will point in the direction you drag). Once you let go, the beaver will be projected where the arrow was pointing. From here on, the beaver will smack into anything that he encounters, be it the bumpers or fruit. Watching a beaver smack off bumpers is not only amusing and hilarious, but it is also reminiscent to pinball.

There are three types of bumpers. The first type of bumper is the star bumper which is self- explanatory because it has a star in the middle of it. The cool thing about this type of bumper is that it multiplies your points during that shot. If you hit all the star bumpers then you get an extra 500 points at the end of the round. If you beat a level with a shot remaining, you also get an extra 500 points. Beat the level in your first shot and it’s 1000 extra points! The second type of bumper is just the plain ‘ol bumper that gives you 10 points per hit. Unlike the star bumper, this bumper doesn’t disappear after you hit it. The last bumper is a large orange one that doesn’t give you any points. Rather, it gives you a stronger bump than the others and it shows your friend’s picture and how many points you are away from beating their highscore.

bumperstars_review4Bumper Stars is heavily reliant on Facebook, almost too much for its own good. The iDevice version is basically a port of the Facebook version with all its fruityness. You can challenge any of your friends on Facebook that also own the iDevice version. They don’t have to be online either when you challenge them, since they’ll just receive it (which shows up on the bottom of the main screen) whenever they start the app. When you do challenge someone, they have to beat the score you earned when you sent them the challenge.

bumperstars_review5Bumper Stars also has several achievements to unlock, many of them requiring a lot of time and patience (such as participating in 500 challenges). Each achievement not only has a nifty icon and name, but it also awards you credits (you get more credits as you unlock harder achievements). These credits can be spent in the in-game store.

bumperstars_review6The store is probably my favorite component about Bumper Stars. In the store, you spend your hard earned credits on new and wacky characters such as Bloody Bunny and Boo Diddley. You can also buy new arenas, bumpers, and food packs in the store. While all the items don’t impact your score by giving bonuses and special attributes, collectively, they allow a more enjoyable and customizable experience. You can also spend Benjees (which can’t be earned, only bought via PayPal, credit card, etc. or by taking an online survey) in the Facebook version on premium items that can’t be bought using credits. However, the premium items are just like the regular items and don’t impact the gameplay whatsoever, other than being more appealing and having a Benjees price tag on them. If you decide to buy an item using Benjees on the Facebook version, then it automatically gets imported into your iDevice game. It should also noted that there are currently no items buyable with Benjees as of yet for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

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You will soon be mine Master Chief!

The graphics are colorful and cartoony, which somewhat reminded me of BubbleHead. The game itself is viewed from a bird’s eye perspective and there’s even funky music to go along with it.

Everyone in Bumper Stars has their own profile where you’re able to view their completed achievements and statistics, such as their best highscore. From their profile you can also challenge them. This is a neat little feature because you can challenge anyone, not just your Facebook friends.

There is also a world and friend leaderboard. From the world leaderboard you can see who has earned the most points as well as viewing anybody’s profile and challenging them. The friend leaderboard ranks you amongst your friends to see who is the king of beaver bumping.

bumperstars_review8I only have one complaint about Bumper Stars. Due to the fact that the game is so reliant on Facebook, if you don’t have an account then there are basically no features. You’re unable to access the store or challenge anyone without a Facebook account. Thus, if you consider buying this great game and don’t have a Facebook, I highly advise you to make one to enjoy the app to its fullest. That shouldn’t be a problem for most people anyways.

In any event, I have a few suggestions. First, similar to Peggle, I would love to see the ability to save replays. A few times I witnessed myself make a move so epic that words couldn’t describe it, which is why I would need an instant replay to do justice. Second, it would be awesome if there were powerups that could be activated when you hit a bumper. For example, a powerup could give you an extra shot when you hit it or activate a speed boost for your next shot. If powerups were implemented, it could lead to even more items that can be purchased in the store and even more gameplay strategies. Third, it would be good if there was a workaround for the dependance on Facebook, so that people who don’t have an account can still enjoy the game with all its features without being forced to create one. Also, I noticed on the MSN version of Bumper Stars that there’s a head-to-head multiplayer mode, which would be fantastic if it made its way into future updates for the iDevice.

bumperstars_review9Overall, while Bumper Stars is a fantastic pick up and play game (that even saves your current game progress if you quit it in the middle of a game), it also has some depth to it with earning the achievements and playing around with the several customizations. The game is simple and addicting but doesn’t get old.

I highly recommend Bumper Stars and award it with a Grab It rating and a fresh apple.

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App Summary
Title:Bumper Stars (v1.0)Developer:PressOK Entertainment (developed by Large Animal Games)
Price:$2.99App Size:4.6 mb
  • Facebook integration and challenge friends
  • Many customizable options
  • Achievements
  • Cute Graphics
  • Bumper Store
  • Very addicting
  • World and friend leaderboards
  • Too reliant on Facebook
  • Purchases at the store don’t affect gameplay

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