+Variation of characters
+Weapon combos work well
+Levels all feel different
-Battery mechanic felt like a forced timer
-Graphics are dated
-Poor co-op display (hard to tell who you are)
Assault Android Cactus has so much going for it that makes me love and hate it at the same time. But don’t worry, it’s a good hatred, rushing to collect a battery, or raging over not beating a friend’s high score. Both come from memories of games that I love and still play today, Crazy Taxi and Geometry Wars. The strange part about Assault Android Cactus is that when I see myself dodging bullets I realize, “Wow, I’m playing Ikaruga right now!”. Sure it’s completely different, but Assault Android Cactus brought back many memories of great games I’ve thoroughly loved in the past, and combined it all together in a great package.
Assault Android Cactus is a twin-stick arcade shooter which has you shooting and blasting through hordes of enemies. The game which was both developed and published by Witch Beam, features an all female cast of nine “Androids”, each with unique primary and secondary weapons. The story goes, Androids and Robots are working together on a ship, when one day Robots turn evil and fight against Androids. In order to save the ship, Androids must fight back!
Assault Android Cactus has 25 levels and 5 boss battles. Each level has its own unique look and feel, such as floors go missing, lights randomly shut off, platforms start moving, and hazards will blast off without warning. Lastly there is ‘Infinity Drive’ mode. Try to survive escalating waves of enemies in an arena that re-arranges itself at will. Assault Android Cactus is primarily a single player game, but you can take on any of its game modes in 4 player local co-op!
Gameplay – “Battery! Battery! Battery!”
While playing Assault Android Cactus, I always had “Battery!” on my mind. Each level has a gigantic battery at the top of the screen, which is Assault Android Cactus’ version of a timer. Enemies drop batteries, you collect them, your battery is replenished and remaining time is increased. If your battery runs out, game over. Simple mechanic, but the battery timer made me feel a bit rushed as I was more worried about collecting a battery than enjoying the game. This mechanic gave me the same feeling as playing Crazy Taxi. In my Crazy Taxi days, sometimes I wanted to take the scenic route, but that silly timer never allowed me to do so!
Nine unique Androids provides replayability and a different experience on each playthrough. I played as Holly who seemed to be the ‘scared’ or ‘shy’ one of the bunch, but then there’s Cactus, who is more of the upbeat/ready to kick-ass type. It is easy to notice that secondary fire has a bit of a delay, but since it is a power weapon, Assault Android Cactus forces you to use it wisely.
The ‘death’ mechanic is also handled very well. If you go down, the level doesn’t end. Simply tap the fire button a couple of times to pump yourself back to life and continue right where you left off (Down But Not Out)! The downside of this? For anyone aiming to beat a high score, you’re out of luck! ‘Deaths’ will lower your grade and you’ll have to try again. Leaderboards are a huge feature of Assault Android Cactus, you’ll constantly be in competition with not only yourself, but with friends and everyone around the world as well. Every time a level is completed, a grade from F to A is awarded, or S+ if a level has been mastered!
The graphics felt dated, early Xbox 360, or PlayStation 3 days perhaps. Although it isn’t a big issue, it does hit you in certain cutscenes. There are parts that seem a bit blocky and out of place. The unfortunate part about that is that every time I noticed it, a main character was involved with the issue. While playing, as the arena changes and the enemies come out, it isn’t as noticeable considering there is a lot going on in the screen.
Speaking of a lot going on, there is an display issue when playing local co-op. Given the game type it’s understandable that it will be hard to see where your character is located. There is entirely too much action going on that it almost feels like co-op shouldn’t have been a part of this game. Coming from me, that is saying a lot considering I always enjoy sharing gaming experiences with others.
After many long fought battles and trying to figure out patterns, Assault Android Cactus remained challenging. Nine unique Androids help the experience stay fresh, inviting and exciting. Playing different levels with each Android forces different strategies to be created each time. Assault Android Cactus is highly recommended for anyone that enjoys twin-stick shooters and bullet dodgers, as Assault Android Cactus is one of the most exhilarating ones released in a while.
Available now on PC/Mac/Linux via Steam | PS4/PS Vita and WiiU for $14.99.
For those downloading it off Steam, there is also a free demo! So there is no reason why you shouldn’t check out Assault Android Cactus.