How to double down on the doodoo.
The latest instalment in the Binding of Isaac world was released this week in the form of The Legend of Bum-Bo. Quirky, revolting, and dangerously addictive, Bum-Bo is essentially a mobile game with a cynical veneer. Match four, five, or six pieces of excrement in a row and you can fling it at your mutated sewer foes. Marketing itself as a “deck building” game with no option to not pick up a card, the game has also garnered some bad press for its buggy nature and simplistic gameplay. That being said, it’s a silly traipse through the aesthetics of the well-loved series and holds surprising depth for what appears to be Candy Crush with fart sounds.
In true Edmund McMullen style, little is revealed to you in the tutorial and you must find out what everything does through trial and error. If you need a guide to make sense of all the different power-ups, moves, Bum-Bos, and cards – read on…
To get anywhere in this game you’ll have to get used to the basic system, which involves matching Poo, Urine, Teeth, Snot, and Bones to simultaneously attack your enemies and acquire Mana. Mana is colour coded to the various types of discharge and will power up different Spells. More on that later. The aim is to use enough combination attacks by matching 4, 5, or 6 in a row, and smashing your opponents with Spells, whilst keeping your own health sturdy and avoiding Curses. You have three lanes and two plains on which enemies can appear – right, left, middle, up, and down. Between certain levels, you will encounter a character who will allow you the choice of two random cards, each containing a new Spell.
Defensive Bodily Functions
Poo: Matching Poo on the board gives you Brown Mana and acts as a barrier to deter enemies from attacking you. Their attacks will simply melt into the Poo, much like in The Binding of Isaac where Poo barriers prevent you from shooting or walking. Use these defensively and try to match more than 4. 7 Poos in a row will award you a block in each lane, with a power of 3 HP each.
Urine: Urine gives you Yellow Mana and allows you to make more moves. Each turn, you will have a finite amount of moves defined by your progress and power-ups, but a swift matching of Urine will award you an extra turn or two. Urine also affects Yellow Mana.
Snot: Grabbing a row of Snot will award you with a powerful gumming effect. You can sling it at one lane of enemies and gum them up, unable to move or fight you for that turn. Each Snot combo can be stacked up to three times, preventing up to as many as 9 moves to any one enemy. Snot also affects Green Mana.
Offensive Body Parts
Bones: Pretty simple to master, chucking Bones at your foes will damage them up to three hit points per Bone combo. Bones will add to your puzzle-piece spells, and collect White Mana. If you’re lucky enough to match 7 bones in a row, Death will be summoned and will unleash a wave of Bones on random enemies.
Teeth: These seem to do a bit more damage than Bones, and will award you Black Mana. Match enough of them (7 again), and you’ll deal 4 damage to all enemies at once.
You may also come across Hearts, Stars, and Curses on your board, each of which has their own properties. Hearts will help you to heal, and the more the better; Stars will act as a ‘wild card’; and Curses will damage YOU, so be careful to avoid them.
Matching 7 of any of these offensive, defensive, or special items (yep, even Curses) will gain you an achievement, and the offensive and defensive items will yield an Ultimate Power when maxed out.
The Bad Guys
Many of the enemies will be familiar to Isaac fans, having now appeared in both games. Those grotesque creatures now only have one attack, but can still pack a punch so be aware of their intentions.
In a situation where one enemy is on the top level (flying) and one is on the bottom (ground), an attack will always hit the flying enemy first. Be aware of this if you are on the offensive, as you sometimes will need to take these irritating flies out first.
If an enemy has a “!” over its head, it is planning to attack you on its next turn. If you spot some veins or a yellow crown, the enemy has an extra action waiting to be used on its turn. They will generally have one per turn, but be aware of these status effects.
Enemies will sometimes have symbols visible that will help you understand what sort of Spells or attacks you should use to defeat them. A puzzle piece means that they can only be injured using matching symbols, whereas a sword means they can only be hurt by Spells. If a purple skull, a bomb, or a stamp appear – go careful. This enemy intends to do you some damage after it dies. Make sure you have mana and health to spare.
It’s rare, but sometimes an enemy will have a lightning bolt above its head. If this is the case, be aware that they will do a FULL heart of damage per attack, so buff yourself up and make use of that poop.
The deck-building element of the game is pretty curious. There is a great deal of luck involved in choosing your Spells, and no opt-out if you don’t like the sound of either one. Usually, after the 1st and 3rd rooms, you will come across a little man giving you the choice of two cards. Whichever card you choose will be added to your Spell Bank. The more Mana you collect during fights, the quicker your Spells recharge. Aim for a nice spread of defensive and offensive Spells in the early game, while you get to grips with the kinds of villains you’ll come up against.
Bum-Bo want coin, and Bum-Bo get coin – somewhere along the line you will come across the Casino, a good place to spend your hard-earned coins and win a booster or two. The first game on the left is a neat little 3 Skull Monty, offering the chance to win a Heart, 4-6 Coins, whatever piece of power-up tat that gets shown to you before the game, or nothing at all. This game costs 5 Coins.
The middle game is a Wheel of Fortune called the Stat Wheel. This seems to be the only way to level up in the game and improve your overall stats, so invest wisely in this one if you want an OP Bum-Bo. Getting a Fist means +1 damage when using Spells, a Clover is luck, a Heart gives you an extra red heart and heals any damage done, Puzzle Pieces ramp up your combos to doing 1 extra damage, Boots mean you get an extra bit of energy per turn, and Coin speaks for itself but allows you an additional spin also.
Soon enough you will have the hang of Bum-Bo the Brave and may unlock the other characters. When this happens you’ll want to spend some time getting to know their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Starting out as Bum-Bo the Brave means you can get to know the other elements of the game, the enemies, the mechanics, and have some fun manipulating the board. Remember to shuffle any Curses away, and opt for a defensive strategy later on down the line – it may take longer but it’s certainly more reliable in this game to be on your guard throughout.
Hopefully, this beginners guide makes your hobo-killing-spree a little more pleasant.
Miri is an English grad with a fascination for sci fi, RPGs, grand strategy and point-and-click games. She also enjoys strong coffees and cats.