assault android cactus review great action comes in small androids
In the waves of new video games that we play today, we often times overlook the fact the mechanics of these games have their beginnings in the past. In 1982, Midway games released a special video game, known as Robotron 2084. Robotron 2084 featured exciting visuals and great gameplay, but it was the control scheme that would make it historical as well as memorable. Robotron 2084 introduced the “twin-stick” control mechanic. One stick allowed for movement of the player’s character while the other allowed for shooting in various directions. This made the game exciting, addicting, and very accessible. Since then, other arcade games have attempted to utilize such a scheme. Today, there are fine examples of the mechanic, including Helldivers, Crimsonland, Tachyon Project, and Geometry Wars 3.
There are new contenders constantly shaping what is possible in a twin-stick action game. Deep in the land down-under, a studio has been working on a game that utilizes the historical twin-stick controls. Hailing from Brisbane, Australia is Witchbeam Studios. Their game is Assault Android Cactus.
When an interstellar cargo ship runs off course, the IPP is sent in to investigate the disturbance. Coming under heavy fire and ignoring orders to abort, our hero smashes through the defenses in the most literal way possible. Just as she crashes, she saves a small patrol of fellow assault androids. The ship has been run amok with armies of homicidal robots, each one lead by the four robot lords. Our hero locks and loads for a daring mission to save the ship. Our hero is an assault android and her name is Cactus.
Assault Android Cactus is a twin-stick arcade action game, putting players up against thousands of robots in lightning fast shooting inspired by Japanese bullet-hell games. Players will choose their assault android and blast their way across 25 levels through the ship, which is divided into 5 different sections. The levels feature multiple waves of homicidal robots, each one different from the next. Every level also has various movements and hazards that can either be advantageous or detrimental to your survival. At the end of each section, players will take on a boss fight; a member of the robot lords. These bosses will test players’ skills and reflexes. At the end of the level, players are ranked from D to S+.
Despite its kid-like look, Assault Android Cactus is not for those looking for a Sunday drive. The gameplay is fast, ferocious, challenging, and most importantly, a blast. With a silky-smooth framerate, the enemies come faster than it takes to blink. Just when a wave of enemies has been blown away, another will come in larger numbers with more firepower. The speed of Assault Android Cactus comes at near light speed. One look away, and an enemy will have easily wiped your android out.
The enemies are colorful but vicious. The levels are constantly moving, as well as reshaping themselves, making the combat most unpredictable. The boss fights come in various forms and will certainly test your skills. This is most true for the final boss, which is essentially a crucible to the game.
For scoring enthusiasts, the game will challenge players tremendously. Getting the legendary S+ rank on levels will require players to maintain a constant, high multiplier, not getting hit, and maintaining battery power. The Boss Rush mode and Infinity Wave mode are great areas to prove scoring skills as well.
The trick to surviving each level of Assault Android Cactus is to maintain your battery power and not get hit. As you fight, your battery will drain. Various enemies will drop a battery to recharge. Picking them up in the middle of the fray is essential. When the battery runs out of energy, the android shuts down and the game is over. Each android has a small shield that can take several hits. Too many hits and you’ll get knocked down. You can get back up but will lose your primary weapon upgrades, as well as precious battery power. As enemies fall, small white nanobots gravitate towards your character, upgrading your primary weapon.
The game is hard, but it can be played. With these various elements, Assault Android Cactus is quite addicting and constantly fills you with the “just one more game” urge. Through it all, the game reminded me of sci-fi arcade classics of the 1990’s, as well as the action smashup titles of the consoles at the time. Games like Cybernator and Contra III dominated the gaming scape at the time, and playing Assault Android Cactus reminded me of that fun, fast, great gameplay from games long ago.
Assault Android Cactus‘ presentation is colorful, vibrant, and unique. The big-headed androids may look cute, but they pack serious firepower and attitude. The design of the levels and the androids is unique and well-done, creating a different sci-fi world to delve into. The music by Jeff Van Dyck evokes a sensation of great action, bad attitude, and a unique sci-fi world. The music sounds great when playing and battling the rampant robots. One addition for the PS4 version of the game is the sound of androids coming through the controllers. They will shout which powerups are collected and when batteries drop. They will also taunt enemies as the multiplier builds.
Assault Android Cactus is more than a unique offering in the action and twin-stick shooting genre. It’s a very polished game with great mechanics and gameplay. With its art style, chaotic combat, and a presentation that feels like a breath of fresh air, Assault Android Cactus is a great action game that PlayStation 4 gamers will not want to miss.