We take a look at the Steam Early Access version of Witch Beam’s Assault Android Cactus. This video represents a more cursory reaction to the game either because of it’s still-in-development stage, or because we didn’t have time. It is not intended as a review.
Since the release of Geometry Wars in 2005 on the Xbox Live Arcade, the twin-stick shooter genre has enjoyed a somewhat of a prolonged revivial. Still operating on the core tenets set by genre landmarks like Robotron 2084 and Smash TV, Assault Android Cactus from developer Witch Beam adds a few new angles with 4-player co-op, multiple characters, and an obvious inspiration taken from the danmaku or bullet-hell style of shooters popular in Tokyo arcades.
In Assault Android Cactus, you are able to choose from an initial roster of 4 different characters, each with their own unique set of weaponry. The differences may seem cosmetic at first, but each character is tuned to a very specific kind of play style. For instance the game’s namesake, Cactus, is suited for mid to long range combat, dealing moderate damage with a moderate rate of fire; on the other hand there’s Coral, who with his shotgun and plasma dome ability is clearly meant to be up-close-and-personal, dealing out high damage with a low rate of fire.
[…]obvious inspiration taken from the danmaku or bullet-hell style of shooters popular in Tokyo arcades.
These differences become important for two reasons. Much like the bullet-hell shooters ‘Cactus’ takes a page from, your chief motivator for performing well is score. The best and really only way to achieve a high-score means making careful use of the game’s chain mechanic. Avoid death and maintain a fresh pile of dead robots and your final score and letter ranking will sky-rocket. Additionally, each of the arenas in ‘Assault Android Cactus’ change and morph over the course of their duration; walls give way to bottomless pits, giant spinning lasers fire over rotating sections of the floor, and a careening cargo platform swings wildly in different directions. Picking a character that can handle the changing environs, keep the chain going, and avoid the screen-filling curtain of bullets is very important.
Assault Android Cactus is a highly-polished, tightly-constructed shooter with a lot of potent classic influences and plenty of room to grow once the retail version is complete. Assault Android Cactus is currently on Steam Early Access and is planned for release in August of 2014.