Game review: Bomb Squad Academy is an educational tool disguised as a game
BSA is actually best thought of as a clever crash-course in electronics engineering disguised as a puzzle game
Bomb Squad Academy
The boundaries between apps and gaming are becoming more blurred by the day, with indie releases now integrating basic programming, engineering, hacking and other technologies into their games. Bomb Squad Academy (available for PCs) may sound like yet another career simulator (albeit not exactly an everyday job) but once gameplay is under way it reveals itself as a clever crash-course in electronics engineering.
On the surface, players have to defuse a series of bombs, each a complicated mess of wires, boards and those spiky metal bits. It sounds like perfect fodder for a puzzle game and it still would’ve been a decent little time-waster if they’d gone down that route.
Developer Systematic had greater ambitions, though, and made it an educational game by creating what’s essentially a large-scale tutorial on all things electronics. From wiring to gates, capacitors to circuit boards, this is everything you may have learned in a basic computing or physics class, but put in a framework of application over theory.
Each level acts as a mini lesson, guiding players along the circuitous path until they get the basics down – or die, whichever comes first. And as the boards start to get more complicated and the ticker keeps counting down, the pressure begins to add up. Like a real bomb-disposal officer, it all comes down to keeping calm and finishing the job.
Some will find that fascinating and get lost in a gaming world where they pick up engineering skills while simultaneously saving their virtual skin. Others may just be bored – most games are meant to entertain first and educate second, and this is focused more on the latter. With nothing more than a circuit board and a timer in front of you, this is really just a jazzed-up educational tool.
On top of that are a couple of weird loading bugs and a really crappy soundtrack, so Academy is far from perfect. It’s definitely a niche game, for a small group of not-quite-there electronics geeks. But if you have any interest in the field, here you go.