Backlog Review: “Hieronymous Bash” (Xbox 360/Xbox Live Indie Games, Jolly Jinglings Special)
Welcome back to The Splintering’s Jolly Jinglings holiday event!
Nothing is more to foundational to the Christmas season than the war between heaven and hell, so today we’re going to take a look at a little-known indie game from the Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) catalogue, Hieronymous Bash!
The Lord’s heavenly hosts have descended from on high… to unleash a can of dodgeball whoop-ass on the inferno’s demonic horde!
So angels versus demons dodgeball? Yep. That’s the gist. Developed and released by Kindling Games in 2009, Hieronymous Bash (a play on Dutch religious painter Hieronymous Bosch) allows gamers to play out the battle of the ages in a high stakes, multiplayer dodgeball game. Up to four players can join team heaven or team hell, and as dodgeballs fall from the sky, you have to dash across the screen, grab them up, and hit your enemies before they hit you.
You pick up the balls using the R button, and are able to control the direction of your throws using the right thumb stick. You have the ability to hover a bit as you jump, too, so you can move across the arenas pretty quickly once you get the hang of things. It actually works pretty well, most of the time. As you land consecutive hits, you build up power to score a kill shot, which is indicated by either a sunburst of light or a pentagram around your character, depending on whether you are an angel or a demon.
There are three separate backgrounds (forest, heaven, hell), though every match begins in the forest, so neutral ground, I suppose. The platforms in each stage are randomly generated, and depending on who wins each round (angels or demons), then you will progress into enemy territory for the next round. If the angels are victorious in hell or the demons are victorious in heaven, then they win the overall match. However, if the opposing team defends their home turf, then it’s back to the forest for another round. This means that matches can be over very quickly, or they can be very exhaustive if the teams are evenly matched. There’s a fun animation when you win though – spiking Satan in the face with a dodgeball is indeed amusing.
There’s two ways to play: teams match or “free for all,” and if you don’t have four players at the ready to play an Xbox 360 indie game, you can play Hieronymous Bash with less players or on your own by throwing in a few bots, to whom you can individually assign a skill level.
Aesthetically, Hieronymous Bash isn’t terribly impressive, but it’s passable given its status as a small indie game. The characters are rather small compared to their environments, but the action never becomes so hectic that you can’t tell what’s going on, unlike other multiplayer games (Smash Bros.). The musical soundtrack is a bit bland, too, but it wasn’t at all grating, and the game is better for having it.
In any case, Hieronymous Bash is still a genuinely fun multiplayer game in small doses. Unfortunately, it is no longer available for Xbox 360 as the XBLIG store has been completely shut down, so there’s currently no way to pick it up. For those who have Hieronymous Bash downloaded to their Xbox 360 consoles, revisiting it for holiday get-togethers could make for a fun tradition. For those who missed it, it will live forever in our hearts… or something.
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