I have a confession to make - I suck at video games. Arcades are my worst nightmare because I’ll likely spend three times as much money as the rest of my friends just to play for the same amount of time.
And yet, Super Mutant Alien Assault -- clearly aimed at the hardcore arcade crowd -- was one of the most exciting indie games I’ve played all year. It’s deeply rewarding, even if you suck (like me).
The plot is simple. You play as a little robot guy defending his ship against an onslaught of aliens. You fight with an arsenal of guns and explosives bigger than your entire body. Firearms have never been more adorable.
Each level consists of a single screen with randomly generated vending machines and objectives. Clear the boards, beat the bosses, done.
Gameplay is rock solid. Hard but insanely fun. To survive, you’ll have to strike a balance between collecting firearms, utilizing explosives, and mastering platforming. Enemies, items, and other abilities are unlocked based on the number of boards you clear rather than overall progress. In fact, you can probably unlock just about everything in the game without actually beating it. So even if you suck (like me), Alien Assault still offers plenty of variety.
The music is perfect. Just perfect. There’s nothing more satisfying than taking down an alien army to an exhilarating EDM soundtrack.
My complaints about this game are only minor. The artwork is fantastic, but there is no clear visual hierarchy between the background and the characters, making it easy to lose track of your character inside the whirlwind of explosions and alien carcasses. Also, the grenade launcher is annoying to use. Grenades bounce unpredictably around the boards, plus you can take damage from the blasts. So if you suck (like me), you’ll likely end up killing yourself before you take out any enemies.
In spite of my nitpicks, Super Mutant Alien Assault is a blast to play, even for gamers like myself who dread the arcade. The developers call this game the “Citizen Kane of Super Crate Box clones.” It’s a lofty title, and it’s well-deserved.
Final score: 9.8 out of 10