Boss 101 from Donley Time Foundation
With increasing attempts to incorporate more and more randomization, indie developers have been experimenting in different ways to create fresh experiences and make multiple play-throughs more unique. Boss 101 by Donley Time Foundation incorporates randomization in a new way by using it to affect the enemies you fight.
The core structure of Boss 101 is basically a shoot-’em-up boss rush. Every level is just one boss fight and nothing else. It’s mechanically similar to other games in the genre, with tight controls allowing for twitch-based reactions. Controls are responsive and allow you to precisely maneuver effectively around the many enemy projectiles. But unlike most other games in the genre, Boss 101 is not necessarily focused on creating a challenging experience.
There are elements in the game that make it a more forgiving, less frustrating experience. Your character has a health bar which can be upgraded along with other stats like damage output. Outfit upgrades, stat upgrades and new weapons can be purchased with money earned through boss fights. Since money isn’t a scarcity, it’s effortless to buy upgrades to make everything easier.
The game’s more forgiving aspects make for a more casual experience which at times makes the game feel a little too easy, which could be a turn-off for people who want a more challenging experience.
The main randomization element in this game revolves around all the bosses you fight. Before each level, the game allows you to randomly generate a boss. Randomly created bosses are not purely cosmetic in their differences, as they are generated with different weapons each time. The more difficult the boss, the more money it rewards when defeated.
The great thing about this mechanic is that it allows you to choose which boss to take on and avoid enemy weapons that you don’t want to deal with. It also makes for some creative combinations, like a robotic monster with a fire spitting dragon head.
Since there are eventual limits to the boss customization, it can negatively affect your experience. Given that there are more than 20 levels, you’re going to encounter the same boss weapons over and over again. Unfortunately, it starts to feel repetitive, since fighting bosses is all you do. It tries to mix things up with narrative cut scenes and distractions between levels, but it’s not enough to variety to make up for the repetitive core of the game.
Visually the game has a pixel art style with plenty of charm and detail. Cute pets and fun characters create a consistently enjoyable tone.
Sadly, the stages could be more interesting. You encounter the same backgrounds far too frequently, making you yearn for more varied environments. It may seem like nit-picking since this genre is more focused on gameplay than visuals, but more variation here would have made Boss 101 a more entertaining experience.
Boss 101 takes some risks in terms of creating a more replayable shoot-’em-up. Its ideas feel like they would have benefited from more refinement in order to make the randomized bosses more fun to fight. That being said, I enjoyed my time with Boss 101, and the overall experience it offers was enough to keep me playing. If you can overlook the repetition and aren’t looking for an incredibly difficult shooter, Boss 101 is a fun game.
Boss 101 is available via Steam.
Check out the official trailer for Boss 101 below: