Assault Android Cactus is a twin-stick shooter that doesn’t do much to innovate, but manages to instead create an authentic experience that can be enjoyed by just about anybody. Select an android, blast some robots, and save your ship from peril in this cooperative shooter that is sure to put a smile on your face during cutscenes and a furrowed brow when you’re concentrating on making it to the end of each level. It’s sassy, badass, and a great way to vent any weekly frustration.
You can play by yourself or with up to three other friends locally. After finishing the tutorial, you start the campaign with four androids to choose from: Cactus, Holly, Lemon, and Coral. Each android has a different set of weapons which you can swap between while dodging, usually switching from a primary weapon to something with a bit more power but limited use. As you play through each mission and defeat bosses in each zone you unlock more androids for a total of nine, giving players a lot of selection for end-game content. Each android feels quite viable too, though I found a couple in particular to be much better at fighting bosses.
Something that sets Assault Android Cactus apart from competitors is an entirely female cast of protagonists. Sure, they’re technically sexless androids but they all look and sound like girls. Don’t let that fool you though, they’re here to kick some serious butt while fighting to stay alive and figure out what’s going on. They make for some great alternative role models, and I for one can’t wait to play this with my niece. Witch Beam has done a great job and while their game could be played by a younger audience, it remains fun across all ages.
“Select an android, blast some robots, and save your ship from peril in this cooperative shooter that is sure to put a smile on your face…”
Part of the reason it’s so fun is in the way failure works. In each level, the goal is to kill all the robots without letting your battery run out. As you kill robots, they drop battery packs that help keep your charge up along with other modifiers that can either buff you or temporarily stop your enemies. If you’re not killing robots fast enough, you lose. There is a health bar but death only stops you for a moment, requiring you to tap the fire button quickly to resurrect. This allows you to die several times in a single stage, but doing so when you’re low battery can be devastating.
I have to say that while there isn’t much of it, I was actually impressed by the writing. It made me chuckle a couple times, and it’s pretty good for a game targeted at a younger audience. All of the androids sound different enough as well, so you actually feel like you’re taking that character in particular through the story. It’s an interesting and somewhat unique world, having girl androids working a ship in deep space with a colourful art style that kind reminds me a bit of Jet Force Gemini. Not that Assault Android Cactus looks dated at all, it just has the same kind of charm.
Now, the campaign itself doesn’t actually take that long. If you’re good or get lucky and finish each level in one try, it will only take you an hour or two. However, a few bosses and later levels are especially difficult when playing solo. You also have goals to work towards, as your given credits to spend as you progress. You can spend these to unlock tons of cool stuff like artwork, first-person mode, visual filters, or mega weapons. Unfortunately I didn’t get to play around with the options that actually change the gameplay. I saw the art that I could unlock before the options, and spent everything on that before I noticed the rest of the shop.
“Assault Android Cactus can get very hectic, very fast and if you’re not careful you’ll get lost in the maelstrom of bullets and bombs.”
Once you’re done the campaign, you also have a couple other game modes to play: Infinity Drive and Daily Drive. Daily Drive doesn’t seem to work currently, but Infinity Drive is basically a never-ending mode where you keep your battery charged for as long as possible. It gets a little old when playing by yourself, but even with just one or two friends it can make for some pretty fun times. When the level never ends, if you’re lucky you can end up with a ton of upgrades stacked up to last for quite a while, making you a seemingly unstoppable killing machine. Assault Android Cactus can get very hectic, very fast and if you’re not careful you’ll get lost in the maelstrom of bullets and bombs.
Aside from a short campaign, there isn’t really much to complain about. The Daily Drive feature isn’t working yet, which is annoying but not the end of the world. I think for the most part, there isn’t a lot that is wrong with Assault Android Cactus, there’s simply a lot you might not be interested in. Some people simply won’t want to play a game with an all-female roster, or a game that strays on the cute side a bit, and that’s perfectly alright. For anyone that doesn’t have a problem with those things though, it really is a lot of fun.
For $17 CDN on Steam, Assault Android Cactus is a pretty decent game. You can easily get your money out of this, and it’s a great four player co-op experience. If you’re at all hesitant, Witch Beam is offering something often unheard of in this modern age: a free demo. I think try before you buy is a great business model, and I wish more games had demos these days. So, if you like twin-stick shooters or arcadey indie games, do yourself a favour and download the demo for Assault Android Cactus. If you think it’s worth your time and money, pick it up. You won’t be disappointed.
*** PC Code provided by the publisher ***
- All-female character roster,
- Fun for all ages
- Colourful and cute art style
- Short campaign
- Daily Drive not currently operational