Hot Shot Burn, published by the Polish-based Artifex Mundi and developed by an internal team, Flaming Flamingo, was demoed at a spacious AirBnB in downtown San Francisco for one-at-a-time demos of a late beta build with media folks. Going with living room party theme, the “arena party brawler” game was playable on a computer and a big screen TV, presented before a table full of snacks. Very homey.
Three developers walked visitors through thewild and wacky world of Hot Shot Burn. But this stop was only the first leg of a lengthier trip, which continued with the fighting game-focused EVO 2019 event in Las Vegas.
Following the showing of Hot Shot Burn at EVO 2019 …
— Hot Shot Burn (@hotshotburngame) August 7, 2019
As for the game and my time with it, Hot Shot Burn is an approachable, fun party-style combat game for 2-4 players that fully embraces its cartoony violence and fast-paced gaming style.
Getting started with Hot Shot Burn, up to four slots can be filled from the six available players (via Steam Early Access) are selected. Skins are selected and skills can be viewed by the players, whether online, local or AI bots — and the game is set. Players jump into a variety of maps, including a neon-tinged map reminiscent of an air hockey table, a watery world with moss and bubble-emitting grates, a junkyard with conveyor belts serving up fast-moving trash that can flatten players, among others.
Power-ups randomly turn up over maps, which can potentially turn the tide for players in need of inflicting a quick take-down. Also randomly appearing on the map, like the helpful snacks they are, are nachos as represented by yellow chips. Players can grab those for extra points to pad their score.
The unique character skills and attributes that, mixed together with the hazards and walls and blinds on each map, create a recipe for a madcap, fun sort of party-style game experience for players.
Each player kill (or survival by outlasting everyone else) and nacho grabbed is a set number of points; and the more you get, the closer you are to winning the game. Each game is quick, usually taking about 30-60 seconds, After a set time, the map is shrunken by red bars on either side (a la battle royale games) until the game is ended one way or another. After the game is concluded, the points are tallied so that everyone knows who the leader — and the one everyone is chasing. Victory is achieved not by meeting the finish line but crossing it, which takes two rounds and also gives competitors an extra chance to snag a win from the jaws of defeat.
It only took a few moments of watching Hot Shot Burn in action to catch moments of tribute to several classic console and arcade games: Bomberman, Smash TV, among others. Even some aspects of the music track were reminiscent of the bouncy, energetic Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo. Those moments did not happen by accident, as members of the development team happen to be fans of retrogames.
My go-to character was Chuck, a character who could be re-skinned to a Mr T. or Hulk Hogan-type melee tank player. You don’t have to be subtle with this fella. Among his brute force tactics is that he can be sent careening around the map in a trail of flames that clear enemies out of the way. I was able to win my first set of matches with Chuck, which was plenty of fun when matched locally against the developers. Subtle details are not forgotten: If you can catch your breath between the mayhem, you can even hit a button to change the character’s expression during the matches. Other characters to pick from, each with their own strengths to leverage, include a potted cactus, a hooded grey alien, a green-haired soldier, and so on.
One thing Hot Shot Burn is not is an esports game, insisted the developers. Instead, it’s better to see it as a party game for esports people, whether on a casual or hardcore basis. There may be ranked and tournament game play, but during early access, it may be added in as a feature.
One thing I noted and appreciated was the interest the Flaming Flamingo developers had for taking ideas from the community and improving and adding to Hot Shot Burn, based on ideas that could be baked into the game later on. Following the developer Discord chat is one way to share feedback.
Speaking of improvements to work on, the game’s keyboard control needs to be refined, according to the developers. I did not try the game with a keyboard setup, but I can see how this game is more precise and reflexive with a controller. Emulating the “naturalness” of using controller for this game does seem like a challenge.
The only issue that really caught my attention was the replay right after the end of a match, which probably needed to be tagged with “replay” text on the screen. Once or twice, it felt like I was still playing when I was actually watching an immediate replay after the finish of a match.
Hot Shot Burn arrives on Steam Early Access on August 15th. and it seems likely PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch versions are planned for the future, perhaps next year. Given how controller play fits this game like a glove, console versions make perfect sense. Cross-platform play is also planned as well. Hot Shot Burn looks like it will be a great addition to the pantheon of great party video games.