A tribute to an uncommon yet consistent franchise: Slaps and Beans might not ring familiar, but its delivery is commendable.
Can a lovingly crafted homage still resonate with an audience who might very well not even know of those being honored? That rather depends on the medium, but since we’re talking video games here: a wonderful tribute is great, but a good game is even better. This is where I enter the fray with Bud Spencer & Terrence Hill – Slaps and Beans from developers Trinity Team srls. While this may have been my first introduction to both gentlemen, a good old fashioned beat ’em up is hard to pass on, so let’s take a look at who and what is going on here.
Let’s start with a little about both Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill. We don’t need full bios here, but it’s probably good to know that they were a movie duo who appeared together in many films from the late sixties up until the mid eighties. The most popular of these films were several spaghetti westerns, but their work wasn’t limited to that, either. Slaps and Beans seems to be a culmination of all their work together, with elements of many of their films incorporated throughout. While such nods to their work are a true fan’s delight, Slaps and Beans also lends itself well to a fairly diverse and fun game for any player.
Lights, camera, action!
The story starts with our heroes Bud and Terrence working on what they believe to be an actual movie, but it turns into a real-life brawl. Angry and looking for their film money, the duo spring into action only to find more adventure in the search for not only their paycheck, but a kidnapped girl as well. Along the way there will be lots of brews, but more importantly plenty of slaps and beans to go around. It’s a fun story which ties together a lot of diverse settings and environments. It plays out much like its own movie and because of that, it’s appealing to a wide range of players, even if this is their first time getting to know Bud and Terrence.
So what’s the gameplay like? The majority of the time is spent as a fairly standard beat ’em up. Regular and strong attacks abound. To mix things up a bit, there are also dash attacks and blocks/counter attacks. The blocking/counter attacks are the most fun to be had here. Visually, they are far more diverse than the other attacks, with several varieties depending on the placement of your attacker(s). No beat ’em up is complete without a few weapons tossed in for good measure, either.
If there is one criticism of the basic beat-’em-up aspect, it’s that far too many of the attacks seem to do the same thing — very little. Enemy diversity is somewhat lacking and there are some real meatbags who can absorb blows with the best of them. It’s good that there is a plethora of alternate gameplay levels to really mix things up — and the time for completion of these sections is fairly good, with each taking somewhere in the neighborhood of eight to ten minutes to complete. It’s a decent pace and that was hammered home when one level managed to take nearly twenty-five minutes to complete. Everything really ground to a halt there, but subsequent levels kept it to the usual time frame and kept everything moving smoothly.
Let’s all go to the lobby and play some mini-games?
I really hesitate to call them mini-games, as their incorporation suggests a broader action/adventure game. They are perfect for breaking up the monotony that can be level after level of pure beat ’em up, though. From hot-dog eating contests and dune buggy races to horseback and car chases, there is a lot of diversity. In fact, it’s this smorgasbord of alternate gameplay that keeps the pace of play up. Those breaks from the general action are welcome, as simply level after level of pure beat ’em up would wear thin rather fast. The games aren’t pushovers, either. Some are downright difficult and the hot-dog eating contest especially can be a real challenge. While I was lucky enough to win it on my second try, some others have not been so lucky — I could see that one in particular being frustrating after multiple unsuccessful attempts.
Make-up and music
So we have some pretty fun and varied gameplay. What about the looks and sounds of Bud Spencer & Terrence Hill – Slaps and Beans? Visually, this has to be one of the best looking beat ’em ups around. There are more than enough pixels to go around here, giving it a classic arcade look, as opposed to an era-appropriate console game. There’s just something to the look of this style that is so appealing. But looks aren’t everything — there are sounds and music, too.
I flat-out love the music in Slaps and Beans. That’s something I almost never say. It’s as fun and catchy as the music would be from any of the movies these two starred in. Maybe it is from the movie? Either way, it’s pure delight and will occasionally have you humming along to the tune. Music can be great at setting the mood or atmosphere and this soundtrack certainly makes the game more enjoyable overall.
The reviews are in!
Any kind of tribute game needs to be not only something fans can eat up, but also a good game overall. Slaps and Beans manages to hit both those marks. Sure, it’s not a totally perfect game, but it is a perfect way to spend several hours of your time. While I wasn’t familiar with the work of Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill previously, looking at just the synopses of their movies I can see that a lot of material from them that made it into the game, which should make fans happy as well. I was really impressed with how those nods to all sorts of varied works were put together in a way to make a whole, unique story on its own. The lure of the stars featured weren’t the draw for me, but the game looked to be a fun romp and it delivers. It’s a game I certainly recommend playing.
Bud Spencer & Terence Hill – Slaps And Beans is available now on PC, Mac & Linux.