Assault Android Cactus is a wildly awesome top down shooter of sorts, and now that I’ve got my hands on an early build of the game I’m going to tell you guys all about it.
The game features a campaign, endless mode and a boss rush mode. You can play solo or with up to four friends and boy does the chaos and fun pile up quickly. The demo build that I played had a surprising amount of content.
There are four playable androids from the beginning, with four more that you can unlock later. This preview build has only one unlockable android. Each android feels very different with their primary and secondary attacks, I really enjoyed experimenting with each one and seeing which one I preferred.
My favorite droid out of all five that I’ve played is actually the fifth android, Starch, which you have to unlock. She is mostly white and is fond of picking her nose. Her main weapon is a concentrated laser that is only usable with line of sight, while her secondary weapon are batches of homing missiles that make up for her primary being line of sight only.
The main thing that Assault Android Cactus does different from any other shooter I can think of is that it has a limit to how much your android can move and shoot. See that battery indicator in the top middle of the screen? When that runs out, your android dies. This is the way you die in Assault Android Cactus, not by getting hit by enemies or their projectiles.
Changing up the mechanics like this is a breath of fresh air for someone who has been playing shmups for almost their entire life. Instead of trying to avoid bullet patterns and enemies, you now have to be fast, efficient and still mindful of bullet patterns and enemies.
Power ups are also not carried on between levels, meaning you start fresh every time and you have to be smart with your movements and your attack patterns. Grabbing power ups and battery packs is essential to your survival – especially as enemies start to really pile up and cover the screen with bullets.
Enemies come in swarms and in many varieties. The main thing this game does so, so right is that the enemies are always challenging and pretty much on top of you. This game is a mix of a bullet hell shooter and your standard twin stick shooter fare, but it basically takes the best of two worlds and makes a downright awesome experience out of both.
Music and sound effects are very satisfying, I literally had to stop myself from playing to manage to keep writing this preview. The game just keeps you on the edge of your seat, it keeps you going until you feel like you’ve mastered each and every level.
Visually, Assault Android Cactus is a very, very pretty game – even in its earlier stages. The androids, enemies and bosses are all very colorful and everything just pops. The framerate was liquid smooth the entire time I played – even when the screen was FULL of enemies, bullets and me running around full speed to boot.
I blasted through all of the levels in the preview build but I’m a veteran of shmup games, so naturally I felt at home playing Assault Android Cactus. There’s still a lot more that won’t be available until the game is finished, plus there’s the natural things that come with shooters like this – namely high scores and rankings.
From what I’ve played so far, Assault Android Cactus really is a love letter for shmups and twin stick shooters alike. Witch Beam really knows what they’re doing and I think they’re going to be releasing a gem, whenever it’s ready that is. In the meantime, I’m going to try getting S rank in every level.