To tell you the truth I wasn’t expecting what I got when I installed Assault Android Cactus (AAC), but once I saw the start screen I was assured that this game was going to be fun. The graphics are well presented in a humorous cartoon type style and with the boost from the Xbox One X Enhance makes the game look very sleek and smooth. Happy with this I checked my controls, chose my character and jumped head first. Being that I haven’t played a twin stick, top down shooter in a long time, I prepared myself for the worst.
And that’s what I got. Swarm after swarm of non stop robots and droids hell-bent on draining my power and I couldn’t have asked for more. The game has two types of health, a battery and take-out meter. As your darting around collecting credits, one of your main goals is to keep your battery recharged by collecting the green pick-ups because once your battery (powering your suit) has diminished, you are dead. Your take-down meter acts as your shield, enough hits and you’ll fall to the ground. By tapping the shoot trigger you can revive yourself and continue on. Your main goal is to reach the core (or brain) of the ship and help restore power for the three girls you meet which join you on your quest. The story is pretty straight forward with the four of you off to fix the ship and fight a Twenty five map onslaught of androids and five hyped bosses, as you venture on you meet new friends to help fight with you.
Hmmm credits, you must be wondering what to do with them? Well there is plenty to do, including buying a first person view. Sounds good right? It puts you in the shoes of your character and believe me when I say it definitely puts a different view on things. The game comes packed with power-ups that affect you and the map, which in turn adds new twists and action every time you play, along with this plenty of character statues and artwork to collect along the way and I can’t help but mention the awesome job they’ve done with the soundtrack for this game. The bouncy retro feel and happy 8-bit sounds mixed well and have a ‘dub-step’ feel to them. Don’t rush to restart though, check out the little ‘Easter Egg’ song after you die. “I’m Just A Little Android.”
AAC is 2 – 4 player co-op game, the premise for online is there but unfortunately one thing this game lacks. The rank system is somewhat similar to ‘Cuphead’ with scoring narrowed down to an A, B, C, D depending on time, kills and damage taken. Also similar is this games frustration with it’s ‘Run and Gun’ methods, definitely makes you work to continue the story. The game even offers developer commentary while playing if you’d like to learn more.
AAC is a great game visually and playability wise, smooth and enjoyable but also filled with signs of frustration. If you’re a fan of these types of games you will have a ball, if you’re not then you may find a controller embedded in your T.V. set quicker than you think. Definitely up there with the ‘High Scorers’ list of games and will make you work for it. Assault Android Cactus is the first game of indie start-up team Witch Beam, a three person team based in Brisbane, Australia and its great to see games of this calibre coming from the island ‘Down Under’ and hope for plenty more to come.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.