This article contains coverage of a preview build of Assault Android Cactus. The opinions expressed below pertain to a piece of software in Beta? (Version: 130908b / Date: Sept 24th 2013) state, and may deal with features which are in an incomplete or prototype form. The coverage below is intended to provide a general impression of the game in its present state, and may or may not apply to the finished game.
You need this game. Sometimes I wish I could be that brief. I mean most times, (I’m assuming of course) you’re just gonna go head down to the bottom of the page and check the review score and then if that does or doesn’t jibe with your assessment, read the actual review. Since this is a preview, there are no review scores but I will try my very best to succinctly put into words why I believe you need this game. Let me qualify that statement first: If you fancy yourself a connoisseur of twin-stick shooters and/or bullet-hell shmups, you need this game. There, I even bolded and italicized it. So now onto why.
Assault Android Cactus (which I admit I always dyslexia into Android Assault Cactus) is the first game I’ve had to evaluate and not take any notes on. You can take a few moments to peep the trailer above to get an idea of what I mean. To me at least, the game’s promise is self-evident or to put literally, what-you-see-is-what-you-get. I’m not sure if that’s common to many, but generally trailers and the like are meant to highlight the great things and hide the bad stuff.
The preview build I took a whirl at gives you a choice of four androids, all with different gun-types. You have your standard in-line machine gunner, the nimble seeker, the long-range spreader and the close range shotgun. Additionally there is a special weapon, the proverbial ‘B’ gun, that does considerably more damage and offers a nice balance to your main weapon with the caveat that it is extremely limited and needs to recharge before discharging again. Typically I’m more of a single-line/rapid fire type of personality which I should probably thank my lucky stars that the first unlockable android you reveal has a laser as her ‘A’ gun.
Meet Starch. As far as I’m concerned, Starch is my go-to android. Instant long-range, decent damage, in-line shooter. Practically made just for me as I control her perfectly bobbing-and-weaving through a grandiose arrangement of enemies and bullets as if in some technicolor ballet. While I must preface this preview with the fact that I haven’t played a complete final build (I most certainly will review it when the time comes), largely the game’s mechanics or vision seem to be perfect. I’m not sure if there is to be a more single-player oriented campaign but currently all I’ve experienced so far is an arena-type arcade-y bullet-hell twin-stick shmup. You clear stages trying your best not to die while keeping your combo chain going. Defeating enemies rewards time-based power-ups (Speed-up, two gun-turrets), incremental boosts to your ‘A’ weapon and battery juice.
Dying in AAC is a bit different than most. You don’t die in AAC if you get hit and your ‘HP’ goes to zero. If you look at the screenshot above, at the top-left you’ll see four squares (which should be five), these will eventually dwindle down by getting hit, if it goes to zero you get knocked out. The consequence of ‘getting knocked out’ is that you lose your upgrades to your ‘A’ weapon and a good deal of points get shaved off. The only thing left to do at this point is to bring back your NES Track & Field skills out-of-the-closet and hammer on the ‘Action’ button as fast as you can. I say ‘Action’ because the game works equally well with a keyboard and mouse or with a gamepad, so the choice is entirely yours to make.
Right now Assault Android Cactus seems to be entirely arcade-like in scope, favoring zany multiplayer fun-happy-times and high scores as the end goal. Again, I’m not entirely sure if a more story-based campaign will happen, there are bosses that appear but currently only in an arena context.
TL;DR: Assault Android Cactus is a game you’re gonna want to keep a close eye on if you like twin-stick shooters and/or bullet-hell shmups. At the very least, the game promises an excellent arcade-y style game with support for up to four players cooperatively. I eagerly look forward to the final release.