The Binding of Isaac is my favorite game of all time. It changed my view about videogames and what I want by them in a way that I did not expect.
It’s only natural that I would be interested in The Legend of Bum-Bo, since it expands the lore of TBoI. I finished it recently, but I actually bought it when it was released and hadn’t much time to play it. After playing Bum-Bo for over 30 hours, I am finally ready to talk about it!
Bum-Bo Want Coin!
The game rotates around Bum-Bo, which is a familiar added in The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth. He is a homeless man happy to live with his trash and his coin, and the adventure begins when a mysterious entity steals Bum-Bo’s coin and hides in the sewers.
When playing The Legend of Bum-Bo for the first time, we only have access to the chapter Sewers of Dross and, after beating the boss, we unlock Forlorn Hollow. We do the same procedure to unlock Halls of Belial and, finally, the Basement. After unlocking all four locations, we need to beat the game twice with every Bum-Bo available.The first time we can only choose Bum-Bo the Brave, with its own stats and abilities and, after meeting certain requirements, we unlock Bum-Bo the Nimble, the Stout, the Weird, the Dead and the Empty. When we finally manage to finish the game twice with every character, we can play it again to see the final ending of the game.
As I said before, The Legend of Bum-Bo expands the lore of The Binding of Isaac, and it does so by adding hints about the relationship between Isaac and his father. For the ones interested in TBoI lore, the tiny details added with The Legend of Bum-Bo could be very interesting and could be read in many ways. As always, McMillen does not provide only one possible interpretation, but leaves to the players the job of finding out their own truth.
Gambling with Bum-Bo is Good (Sometimes)
Candy Crush with poop. That’s how a friend of mine described it. And he wasn’t wrong about it.
We have a board with different types of tiles (bone, poop, tooth, pee and booger are the main tiles, but we can also have heart and curse tiles on our board) and we have to match four or more tiles of the same type to attack (with bone and tooth tiles) the enemies, make them lose their turn (by blocking them with booger or creating a barrier with poop) or gain more movement (by matching pee tiles). A movement is required to make any change on the board by moving a tile and enemies also spend movement to do actions (they usually have one movement, but some enemies can have more than one and usually have an enraged symbol on their head).
We generally want to make our turn last longer to match more tiles, since every time we match tiles we gain mana (white one from bone tiles, yellow one from pee tiles and so on, only heart and curse tiles don’t give any mana if matched). Mana is spent on special abilities that can damage enemies, manipulate the board or many other useful things (some abilities can have pros and cons, but it depends on the current situations) and each character starts with two or three of them.
We learn more abilities, and we can forget one to learn another, after the first level of every location (and we choose between two of them). Between one chapter and another we can spend the coins we gain through fighting to improve the character’s stats (puzzle damage, ability damage, movement, luck and heart containers) by spending 15 coins on a spinning wheel, or we can buy items (with variable cost) to make an ability hurt more, cost less or totally reshuffle the mana cost at random. We can also try our luck by spending 5 coins to try to randomly win a trinket (passive objects – we can have a maximum of four – that may give some kind of advantage), and we also gain one of them for free after a boss fight (we can choose between two of them just like the special abilities).
Just like The Binding of Isaac, it’s important to make choices to improve our character and its abilities, since enemies become more and more dangerous and every wrong move can lead to our Bum-Bo’s death.
The Problem with Bum-Bo
The Legend of Bum-Bo is aestethically pleasing, with its unique everything-made-out-of-cardboard style, and the soundtrack, made by Ridiculon (the same one behind TBoI Rebirth OST), is simply fantastic. I’d really love to stop here, but there are some things I need to say. Even after some time after launch (three months) I had issues with lags and crashes. When I did first run with Bum-Bo the Empty, the game totally freezed when I was almost midway, making me restart from the beginning and lose all my progress. It may be acceptable when a game first comes out, but after three months and many patches it is not anymore.
It’s a shame since I really enjoyed the game, and they could have done a better job with patches and improvements.
Bum-Bo Got Coin
The Legend of Bum-Bo is a quite fun experiment with different genres (dungeon crawling and tiles matching) and I think that it should be a must buy for every The Binding of Isaac fan out there. It can be quite addictive (even though not as much as TBoI) and for less than 13€ (its full price) it’s a steal. It’s a shame that the experience can sometimes be ruined by crashes and freezes, I would have loved more attention by the developers.