Thursday, March 12, 2020

Eric Vs. 365 - Day 256 - Assault Android Cactus

Today's game is another example of a game design decision intended to be innovative and unique that just ends up making the game lesser rather than greater. Assault Android Cactus is one of the best twin-stick shooters ever, but because of a horribly misguided battery mechanic it is less fun and far more difficult to recommend than it would have been without it. I want to love it, but it just won't let me. Read more and watch gameplay right here.

The basics of Assault Android Cactus is that it is a twin-stick shooter where you fight against waves of dozens and dozens of enemies at a time. You play as a squad of robots who are powered by a battery. As you defeat enemies new batteries appear that allow you to keep playing. For the most part it works OK, but during boss fights the battery mechanic is totally broken. 

Essentially, you have to beat the bosses ASAP and as efficiently as possible in order to reach the next phase of the boss fight so that a battery drops so you can keep grinding away. If you are even 1% slow in doing it as fast as the game wants you to, you run out of battery and die and have to start over. It sucks. It makes the game way, way, way more difficult than it would have been otherwise and it does it in a way that feels totally arbitrary and unfair. The final boss in particular is just ridiculously awful because of this. 

I know, I know. I'm probably being hyperbolic and real fans of the game know how it works and it isn't as bad as I'm saying. Yeah, that's probably right. The thing is, though, that most players are going to just get frustrated with the experience and not bother learning how to play it properly when there are dozens of other games that play the same way and are just as charming but without that dumb battery mechanic. 

Assault Android Cactus with a more normal continue system is a 9/10. With the battery mechanic it's a 7/10. Still good. Still fun (ish). Not as good as it could have been.