Developer: Pan Ip
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Playtime [70/100]
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Vertical shooters are inherently fun, but there’s something special about shooters that take place on the back of a dragon. Maybe it’s because partnering up with a dragon is the ultimate fantasy. If a creature like Smaug did exist, and we scrambled up his foreleg and started shouting orders, we’d wind up as a stain on his teeth.

dragon_01dragon_02BaBaBear Boom, by Pan Ip, is a dragon-based shooter wherein the dragon is happy to cooperate with his rider (thankfully). He doesn’t have much of a choice, actually. Monkeys have taken control of all his dragon-friends. The only creature that can help the dragon is a teddy bear that agrees to train him and ride him into battle against the savage simians.

BaBaBear Boom is simple to play, but by no means is it simple to succeed at. Enemies fly down from the top of the screen in tight formations, firing projectiles as they go. Most of the enemy pilots are monkeys mounted on their own dragons, though there are a number of bosses as well. Death becomes more and more likely as the on-screen action thickens. At least the controls in BaBaBear Boom aren’t an obstacle to victory. The dragon automatically fires his projectile weapon, and swiping left or right on the screen moves him in the desired direction. The teddy bear mounted on the dragon’s back is the hitbox. If a projectile hits him, he loses energy. If, however, the dragon runs face-first into an enemy, the game is over.

While BaBaBear Boom doesn’t quite register as a bullet hell game, the action still gets intense – particularly against bosses. Luckily there are purchasable power-ups that toughen up the dragon and give him additional firepower and a longer health bar. There are also random items that grant small bonuses. How does a fishing pole add hit points to a dragon, exactly? Who cares? It works.

The option to strengthen the dragon may turn off some shooter purists however, since it’s power (not necessarily skill) that brings success in BaBaBear Boom. And while it’s easy enough to earn coins for upgrades early in the game, power-ups gradually become expensive. The enemy dragons’ strength takes a sharp upward turn after the first boss, too. Prepare to grind for coins – or give in and buy a bunch through an in-app purchase.

dragon_03dragon_04Potential dragon-riders should also be warned that BaBaBear Boom is repetitive. Of course some repetition is expected with a shooting game, but the problem with BaBaBear Boom is that its challenge upticks so sharply with the second boss, death is almost certain without decent power-ups. That means grinding the first wave of dragons and the first boss.

Despite its balance issues, BaBaBear Boom is a nifty little shooting game that’s fun to zone out with for a time. Hardcore SHMUP fans might want to opt for something more refined, but casual fans should enjoy this flight.


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