Boomerang X — Passerby Action Blues

Boomerang X is a heroes’ passerby-tale of too little too late. You swing around arena style levels. Plucking the chords of a mythical instrument to upgrade your boomerang, to then slow-motion your way behind enemies to expose their weakness.

As I was snapping screenshots I noticed something from the intro that I missed initially. Boomerang X stars a nameless silent protagonist who crashed their boat on a ruined island. We learn this was the home of creatures known as the Yoran that were wiped out by some dark beings. Which brings me to what I missed initially. It’s not explicitly said but there is a glimpse of a dark being behind the player in that very intro. To me it either means the protagonist was indirectly guided or is escaping from that dark being.

Environmental storytelling is one Boomerang X’s strongest characteristic. The titular weapon is found stuck to an anvil, surrounded by shattered, inferior weapons. Traversing the island you’ll spot fallen Yoran. From what I gathered they seem to be stone-gazed. Stopping to think of how they ended there was a good change of pace to the action.

A weapon crafting room with the titular boomerang sitting atop an anvil.
Typical weapon setting for an atypical protagonist.

Tepan is the only other player-facing named character in Boomerang X. Tepan is my buddy, a quick witted millipede. It’s clear that they know a lot about what happened to the Yoran. This island is full of mysteries and Tepan serves up just enough information to whet some of the curiosities I had.

Boomerang X at its core is an action arena game. You zip and zoom around the arenas no matter how wide or cramped they are. The aim is to boomerang all of your highlighted targets. Targets that aren’t highlighted serve to build your special moves or trip you up. Inputs always felt responsive, doing exactly what you meant them to do and kept pace with the arena.

As you progress through each wave in Boomerang X the music rises to a crescendo after each completion of a wave. You’ll know the arena is complete as the heightened music comes to a full stop. It’ll feel like second nature as you boomerang past waves of enemies, feeling the beat up until the last one is slain.

A friendly millipede is impressed with your skills as a boomerang wielder.
Protect Tepan at all costs.

The progression of unlocking skills in Boomerang X is retro feeling: you’re given a new move, now go practice it. Each new arena stacks a challenge and expects you to have learned from the previous one. There’s an ultimate type move that I only used a handful of times in my regular playthrough.

I completed a few chapters of New Game+. I thought there would be a bit more context to the world of Boomerang X, but so far it has been an increase in enemies and earlier appearances of enemy types. Here’s hoping Tepan shows up in an after credit scene of some sort.

I do wish Boomerang X featured more in-between platforming. Very early on, you’re taught how to fully stop mid air. Other than the arena battles this move isn’t called back. The movement feels so good that I wanted to be challenged more with it. Maintaining myself midair was a constant.

A basin filled with a red liquid that the protagonist absorbs.
Bug juice good.

I can’t help but smile at the summation of Boomerang X’s parts. We’re frequently told the tale of a hero’s random arrival to save a *whatever*. However, here, after exploring each nook of the island it feels like it was for naught. You’ve arrived to an already extinguished inhabitants. What we accomplished will be sowed in the future. Whom it affects is a reward we’ll never get to see.

I played Boomerang X on Nintendo Switch, mainly docked and using a Pro controller. In portable mode it was just too small of a screen for the fast paced action. Also Boomerang X is one of those games that highlights for me how uncomfortable the JoyCons are. This wouldn’t be my platform of choice when recommending this game. Playing on PC should lend itself to the most fun because of the precision of mouse control.

There was some weirdness happening as well with controller settings and I’m unsure if it’s exclusive to the Nintendo Switch version. I will always applaud games that feature remappable controls. Boomerang X would seem to reset my control settings each time I shut down the game. Sometimes it would also randomly add back my deleted secondary controls. This throws your rhythm off if you are used to certain inputs.

Protagonist falling down a vertical arena full of lava at the bottom.
A mining pit highlights your vertical boomerang style.

Something else of note are the gameplay and accessibility settings in Boomerang X. Headlined by the Invincibility mode. Nothing can take away from clearing an arena’s wave of enemies. The fun for me is in the constant rush of movement mixed with slowing down play. If anything, resetting the arena because you’ve been hit too many times interrupts your flow.

Boomerang X is a not-so-hero’s journey through the ruins of a civilization. You slash and sling your way through darkness. It checks all the boxes of feels good, sounds good and looks good. Culminating in a dang good fast paced action adventure of happenstance.

Boomerang X is available now on Nintendo Switch and PC.

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