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Looking for a game that’s quirky, fast-paced, and full of challenges? Assault Android Cactus meets all of the above criteria.
Take on the role of a bite-sized android as you utilize your futuristic laser beam, missile launcher, flamethrower, and more to fend off a barrage of enemies. This twin stick shooter forces you to keep your weapons firing, while managing to maintain a balance between difficulty and fun (for the most part).
Assault Android Cactus offers nine diverse characters that come with totally unique personalities and weapons. Just about anyone can pick up this game and easily learn its twin stick controls. The developers put a lot of time into developing the characters, which I can definitely appreciate.
For example, Starch, a fully metal android comes equipped with a laser, micro missiles, and a ditzy (but hilarious) personality. On the other hand, the fierce-minded Coral wields a shotgun and a plasma field. If you haven’t already noticed, each character is named after a fruit, vegetable, plant, or aquatic creature. You can switch between your primary and secondary weapons during battles—some weapons are better than others, which I’ll address later.
Assault Android Cactus has engaging, but short, story clips that appear as you complete the campaign. If you haven’t played the game yet, here’s a quick synopsis of the overall story: Cactus, an android member of the Interplanetary Police force has been assigned a mission to defeat a robot uprising on the giant spaceship called the Genki Star. After she crashlands on the Genki Star, she recruits some of the ship’s android custodians to help her fight against the rogue AI.
Each level offers a brand new challenge, and things get even more complex towards the end. When you enter a level, the enemies pour out from every direction. They’ll shoot you with laser beams, tether you to the floor, or unleash an endless stream of bullets. This game is heavily influenced by the bullet hell genre, giving you little room to defend yourself—but that’s all a part of the challenge.
Assault Android Cactus is one of the only games I know where you can get beat up and die as much as you want without getting a game over. When the enemies have completely depleted your health, you’ll have to mash the shoot button to revive yourself. However, you will get a game over if you allow your android’s battery to reach zero. The only way to fill your battery is to defeat enemies and hope that one of them drops a battery. You can also take advantage of the power-ups that the enemies drop as well—use them to move faster, trap your enemies, or gain extra firepower.
Unfortunately, only certain characters actually have a decent loadout. I only play as Cactus, Starch, and Holly because their weapons are simple to control and practical to use against the dozens of enemies that bombard you. Some weapons just don’t make sense at all—especially Shiitake’s propeller mines and railgun. Spacing techniques are almost impossible with Shiitake and some of the other androids, which makes them extremely difficult to play with.
My other complaint is about the nearly impossible final boss. You will die at least five times during the last level. The battle occurs in seven stages that just get harder and more ridiculous as time goes on. In some stages, Medulla will spray bullets that are literally impossible to dodge. They cover the entire level, preventing you from moving without getting hit.
The other stages are just as bad—laser beams sweep the floor, vine-like creatures spawn all over the floor, and other large bullets barrel towards you. To make it even more outrageously difficult, you’ll hardly ever see a battery get dropped. I’ve played the entire game without much of an issue until I reached the end, and I still can’t get past it. No matter how many different characters I try, I end up running out of batteries and getting a game over.
Even though the boss fight is pretty much impossible, I still wish the game has more levels. 25 stages just doesn’t seem like enough for a campaign.
Assault Android Cactus has some great in-game music composed by Jeff van Dyck. The electronic beats in each level give you a futuristic vibe as you destroy savage robots. The best song in the entire game starts playing when you get a game over—ironically, it makes a game over enjoyable. The song “Little Android” has a hypnotic melody with (slightly depressing) lyrics about the struggles of being an android. It also has a killer background beat, making it an instant toe-tapper.
There are some mixed opinions about the graphics in the game, but I actually like them. The cartoony look of the game makes it stand out among the other hyper-realistic shooters. Despite the fact that the character design makes the androids look adorable and tiny, they’re super powerful—this disparity gives the game a personality of its own.
Sure, you’ll struggle through some levels (like the last one), but the game is still worth playing. The androids themselves are enough to make you want to pick up a controller—you just can’t help but love each android’s unique persona.