Assault Android Cactus surprised me. It really did. I was fully expecting a simple story, some chill twin-stick shooting and not much else, just a fun indie game to kill some time. However, I was wrong. Witch Beam made a game that is loads of chaotic fun. It may be simple and on a small budget, but it really is a good game.
A group of androids lands on a ship and find they need to destroy the evil robots by fighting wave after wave of enemies. The story itself is how the game is played, campaign missions, but it is not an important part of the game as a whole. Through the story, the various characters are unlocked and there is some comical dialogue, but overall it is mainly an entertaining reason to have different types of levels, enemies, and encounters.
Move and shoot. That’s the game. This is a top-down twin-stick shooter at heart, but Witch Beam has added an incredible amount of variation and more complex fun into the game. The first thing is the actual characters. Each playable character has a unique primary and secondary weapon. The primary weapon normally pumps out endless amounts of bullets in various forms: a straight line, spread shot, shotgun, laser, homing shots and more. The secondary weapons are much more powerful and normally have some recharge rate. These secondary weapons vary even more than the primary weapons. From rockets and black holes to electric shields and homing missiles, these allow the secondary weapons to add great variety and cool combos.
The game also throws in a lot of pickups that make characters move faster, boosts weapons or stuns enemies. These make taking down the huge waves of enemies a lot easier and fun as you become a super-powered, android death machine. Another variation that I was not expecting was the game’s brilliant, exhilarating shifts and variations stages. Most stages will change to some degree while in the battle. Also, each group of levels that lead up to a boss have different styles and are quite entertaining.
Single player is fun and entertaining, a good challenge. Multiplayer is far more fun though. The chaos is turned up a few notches and it can even be difficult to see what is happening. With it being easy to add and boot player at the beginning of each level, Assault Android Cactus really lends itself to being played by any group of people. The controls are smooth and I am very impressed with how well the Switch can keep things very smooth all the way through each match. There is a number of settings that allow the game to have auto-aim which will help children or those less experienced with gaming to really enjoy it.
I was also surprised to see a boss rush mode, a campaign+ mode, and an endless mode. These extra modes are a really fun incentive to play through the game again. There are also scores at the end of each level which add an extra bit of flavor for multiplayer rounds. Lastly, the game adds a key mechanic in every level, there are no lives, you can die as many times as you want, the group or single player will play as long as their “battery” is still somewhat charged. The battery is refilled by picking up green battery packs during the match that the enemies drop. This system allows the players to focus mostly on killing robots as fast as possible while just keeping an eye out for battery energy instead of tiptoeing around every level and bullet.
The game looks like it did when it was released in September of 2015. It is an indie game with a company of only a handful of people. Up close and personal the game doesn’t look pleasant, it looks clunky and a little just “thrown together.” But during the game, everything looks great, the visuals get little hectic and a player may die a few times because of that, but overall it's fine. A remastered version or a sequel would probably look much better and be easier on the eyes, but it does the job and allows the game to play just fine.
The voice acting was pretty mediocre. But that is not why the game is played, people will play this game for over-the-top action. The bullets, explosions and angry robots all sound great, no issues but also nothing super amazing. The music in the background fills the game with a lot of energy and power as levels march forward.
The main campaign won’t take much time. A few hours tops depending on how many people are playing and how good they are at staying alive. But the extra modes and fun factor of blowing up truckloads of robots in so many different ways make the game a lot of fun to pick up and play every once in a while just for kicks and giggles.
Honestly, the only thing that could be better in this game would be some updates to minor issues. Here is a quick list: 1) Make playable characters stand out more visually during battle. 2) Batteries dropped should be a little easier to grab and recharge a little more (especially in the normal mode). 3) Add drop-in/drop-out in in-game playing, a newcomer would either be given a random android or be able to select one in a mini menu in their health corner. As I had mentioned before, the game is fairly dated graphically, so a visual overhaul would be cool, but isn’t necessary, it would just be fun.
Assault Android Cactus is an all-out blast (literally). The game’s different modes, multiple guns/characters, and easy to pick-up and play feel shows that you don’t have to be a big company or even have a big staff to make a really fun game. It doesn’t revolutionize the world, but it does it’s a job right and will give players an exciting and entertaining experience no matter how or what mode you play.