Throughout my time on this earth I’ve taken a few electronics courses and discovered something about myself: I hate working with circuitry. I understand it and can talk to you about it, but there’s something about it that’s unappealing to me. I can’t put my finger on it, ask me again in five years and we’ll see if I’ve been able to reflect on it. What I do know is that a lot of developers over the years have tried to incorporate that kind of tech into games when it comes to in-game bombs and have mostly failed. Some get it a little right, but most everyone boils it down to “cut a wire” and call it good. There’s a lot more to that kind of stuff, which Systemic Games has been happy to show you in their game Bomb Squad Academy.
The premise of the game is more educational than action-packed thriller. This is not another version of Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, there is no competition, there is no co-op, there are no silly games. What this game entails is teaching you the basics of electronics in real life as they’re applied fake bombs that. You will learn an array of items such as logic gates, capacitors, timers, pulse generators and more. Each course will teach you the basics of each component and then throw you into situations where you will learn how to defuse a bomb with those techniques applied.
Now to be clear before you get all excited, no, this does not teach you how to make a bomb. Nor will it ever teach you real bomb defusal. What this is, at least from my viewpoint as someone who has touched this stuff, is a year’s worth of electronics courses taught in high school or college boiled down to the most basic concepts and presented in a manner where you can learn what these elements do and how to control them. Then it takes those elements and puts it into a much more fun environment that’s challenging by having you defuse a bomb with a mixture of lessons you’ve already learned and a few extra surprises.
I kinda wish Bomb Squad Academy existed way back when I was learning, because there are three areas we had to study over for six weeks when I was learning it, and this game boiled it all down to a 20-minute lesson with practical applications. This is a game you should be playing in a technology class and then taking a test afterward. The best area for me was the XOR Gate course, which I know for a fact a lot of people still don’t understand the concept of or can rationalize why anyone would use those.
The graphics and the presentation are pretty simple. Everything is laid out as a regular display with changing panels, the background is designed like generic packages or sticks of dynamite, they don’t really need anything else to it. The music can be soothing or nerve-wracking, specially when that countdown clock keeps beeping down. There’s no achievement system for the game, it has it’s own in-game checklist as you complete challenges and learn lessons, but that’s all you really need from this. The bombs do go off and there’s a white light and explosions sound when you screw up, which is essentially humiliation in a nutshell.
Bomb Squad Academy is an alright game, the reason we’re giving it high marks is because it’s actually educational and we’d highly recommend it to people who are just getting into tech construction and electronics. There’s no grand master course work here, and we’re not saying you’ll learn everything you need to know, but it will help make some of the early things you learn about make sense. About the only thing holding it back is that it’s too short and there’s no random bomb challenges. Nor is there any system to construct your own challenges or try ones made online, which would have been the best feature to have on this kind of game. I recommend giving it a shot when you have a moment.
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