Bomb Squad Academy

Bomb Squad Academy sure is cheery for a game about defusing an array of increasingly complex bombs. “Flip flops are so much fun... Let’s use more!” your faceless instructor chirps before revealing a mess of switches, wires, and the beeping that signals your impending doom. The ticking sets your heart racing, your brow starts to sweat, perhaps your hands are a bit jittery. Of course, all of that stress is fleeting—if you successfully disarm the bomb, you feel a brief sense of relief and pride before it’s on to the next one. If you lose, well, you might jump in your seat a bit, but then it’s back to the drawing board. This is a game that teaches you to delight in learning from your mistakes.  

Bomb Squad Academy is a high-stakes educational tool cleverly disguised as a game that teaches you the essentials of electronics. It walks you through eight different electrical concepts, gracefully adding layers of complexity to each of the puzzles as you progress. 

It feels like tinkering with an electronics set. You’re taught each concept, like AND and OR gates, for example, with simple tutorial levels to cement your knowledge before testing you. These practical tests task you with disarming bombs, as you use all of the know-how you’ve gleaned by that point to keep things from going boom.

This slow drip of new ideas skillfully raises the difficulty level while making you feel like a real smarty-pants in the process. Bomb Squad Academy teaches by example, before letting you loose to apply your newly-found skills. Presented with an electrical board, it’s your job to redirect current away from the detonator and towards disarming the bomb. This is complicated by switches, capacitors, flip flop boards, and complex wiring. 

Because the challenges are driven by logic you have to unravel, I didn't feel frustrated by an unfair or poorly crafted puzzle. At the same time, the ticking timer adds a sense of urgency that ensures you speed things along, while maintaining diligence at the same time. When presented with jumbled switches, wires, and multiple timers, it takes concerted effort not to surrender to the beep, beep, beeping and simply start pushing buttons and trimming wires at random. 

It's a high-stakes educational tool cleverly disguised as a game.

In this way, Bomb Squad uses a light hand to guide you through each puzzle—it leaves you to your own devices for the most part. There are no real hints you can fall back on if you’re having trouble, though you’ll notice conveniently placed notes scribbled on the circuit board—“Split the current” or “Closed Loop”—that offers subtle guidance in the most desperate of times. You’re typically given anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes before the bomb goes off, though there are options to extend that time if you’re having trouble.

Boom goes the dynamite

With that said, a detonation isn't the end of the world, though the game may laugh at you. “You didn’t need that arm anyways,” the faceless text blurb teased after one of my failures. You’re given the opportunity to examine where you went wrong and poke around with the board before restarting, making it easy to plan your next strategy—a small touch that helps immensely as you progress to more difficult levels. You can retry as many times has you’d like without penalty (not counting the jump scare that is), which may lower the impact for some.

It’s a simple concept, quickly jumping from one circuit board to the next. That’s all there is to it, really, which may get repetitive for folks who find the puzzles more or less challenging than others. I had a wonderful time with Bomb Squad Academy, but as someone who gets frustrated with feats of logic after a while, I found I best enjoyed the game with a few breaks sprinkled in between the game’s tricky tests to upset the repetition (and the incessant beeping). 

At $7, Bomb Squad Academy is priced proportionately to the hour or two you'll spend with it. It's encouraging that the developer also has plans to create a circuit board editor that will allow players to create their own puzzles and share them with others, adding much more replayability. Bomb Squad Academy is a refreshing, cerebral puzzler that might just teach you a thing or two about electronics in the process. That’s some cheap and easy knowledge right there. 

Bomb Squad Academy - [V101] Jean Simonet
Hey all,

I've hesitated posting anything until now because I really don't want to make promises I can not keep. But the words of encouragement from friends, this community and the press have been so positive that I think it's worth taking a chance and spending more time on Bomb Squad Academy. And so, I have decided to continue development on the game. I want to take it further!



I don't know yet how much time I'll be able to spend, or what features I'll be able to implement, but I know there are several things I'd like to try:

  • I have a few ideas for new components, such as for instance the latch above, an edge detector or a multi-position slide switch.

  • I'd like to create a circuit board editor and a way to share designs. Like most reviewers, I think there is good potential to really add value to the game. It is going to be a lot of work, not just for the editor, but the backend as well (to save, share and load boards) and then the workshop integration, so I still have to figure out exactly how much time I need.

  • Of course, making an editor will help make it faster for me to create more boards, which I know is the main complaint about the game right now. So I would like to take care of that too!

  • The thing I would like to do the most, if I'm honest, is a random board generator. Of course that's way easier said than done, but it is also the part that really tickles my programer brain. It's a difficult problem (genating interesting boards) but with an enormous potential. Because once I can guarantee that players never encounter the same board twice, I can do all sorts of things! I can add an ironman mode, then add leaderboards, daily challenges, etc... But the devil is in the details: if you've played the game, you've probably noticed that each board is carefully put together. And it is entirely possible that if that feeling is lost, the game won't be nearly as much fun. It's a gamble...

  • I'll also take some time to add achievements, cloud saves, and better options. Those things are pretty straightforward. I don't know abou trading cards though, I'm not sure I can create the art requried.

Anyway, like I said, I'm not sure yet which ones of these goals I'll actually achieve, some are easier than others, but I really want to try. The good news is that there is a good amount to work that would be common to several features, so I'll probably start with that!

Thanks again for your support, I hope you'll keep up with me and the game!

Happy defusing,

Jean


Bomb Squad Academy - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (John Walker)

If there’s one thing I’m sick of, it means I’ve had some sort of head injury and forgotten the many, many, copious things I’m also sick of. But amongst their number is the cavalcade of recent games that feel the need to try to trick me into learning computer programming. You know, I’m good thanks. I’m 40 this year, my brain has pretty much established over multiple attempts that it just isn’t willing to let in computer programming, along with French, the difference between “affect” and “effect” [not to mention “defuse” and “diffuse” -ed.]>, and the HTML for embedding an email address. You program the games, I’ll play them. Ta.

Anyway, so there’s a nice new puzzle game out called Bomb Squad Academy [official site], a game about defusing bombs against the clock, and – WAIT A SECOND! This game’s teaching me electronics>! Why I oughtta… … [visit site to read more]

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