By: Jeff Cater
Assault Android Cactus is a vivid twin-stick shooter by the folks at Witch Beam. In it, you’ll select from (and unlock) a slew of Android chicks that know no chill.
It’s virtually the easiest game to pick up and play, which is a trait shared by many games of the genre. Assault Android Cactus makes use of the left stick for movement and the right stick for aiming. Firing your weapon is done with R2, activating your secondary is done with L2, and that’s as complicated as it gets.
Movement is nice and snappy and the aiming is fluid and consistently on-point. It’s a real treat to play, because the simple controls and immediately interesting visual response totally immerse you into the bullet storm.
First of all, every one of the Androids you can choose from is just cute as hell, with colorful done-up hair and intensely expressive faces. You’ll normally only see their faces during the character select, various cut scenes and victory summaries, but the sweet detail is much appreciated.
Assault Android Cactus is an isometric shooter (until you unlock first-person mode!) that keeps things visually interesting by wildly varying level design. One level might be a simple cargo elevator that reveals an opened up warehouse. Not necessarily visually stunning, but the levels gradually progress to the extremes, like those with pulsing audio equalizers on the walls and floors that sync up with the music.
While enemy design is rather limited, the few types are introduced gradually and supply new considerations and mechanics with them.
There is also an awesome soundtrack that matches the colorful waves of action for your whole play time. Each Android supplies their own voiceovers for the various power-ups you will be grabbing as well, which is great because they each have unique names for the powers. It’s a great little audio detail that helps you find the Android most suitable for you.
Witch Beam didn’t mess around in keeping this game true to the genre. To its core, Assault Android Cactus has the makings for a genre-defining title. As mentioned above, the level design ramps in variety quickly, and the environments also shift and change as you clear waves. So, a circular map might quickly become a hall of blocks in a split-second.
To add more personality and variety to the game, each Android has their own Primary and Secondary (or Special) weapon. Don’t like Android Cactus‘ machine gun/flamethrower combo? Give Peanut or Holly a shot — hell, GIVE ‘EM ALL A SHOT, because each and every weapon is devastating and fun to use.
There are a few different types of power-ups to pick up, like “Accelerate” (greatly increases your foot-speed) to “Power Down” (a blue shockwave that holds enemies temporarily in place), and they are all absolutely vital to success in the game.
Aside from Campaign Mode, there’s also Infinity Drive, which is an endless mode, and a Daily Drive where the challenge changes daily. Completing and placing high on the boards rewards more credits than completing ordinary campaign levels.
Those credits are then used to unlock bonuses like “Regular Head Mode” where the Androids have normal proportions, or even a music modifier that speeds and slows the tempo of the music to match the action on-screen (the most enjoyable upgrade, in my opinion).
Boss fights are also some of the craziest encounters this gamer has ever faced, with screen-filling super moves and some fine old-school “pattern figuring out” gameplay. There’s also co-op for up to four players, which is absolutely insane (and admittedly makes boss fights much easier).
The downside is that players who sign in under a different profile won’t earn any of the trophies that the primary player gets. It’s a very small downside, and literally the only one I could find.
Assault Android Cactus is well worth anyone’s time and money, especially enthusiasts of the twin-stick genre. It’s a supremely cute shooter, packed with faster-than-light action and tons of personality. I daresay it’s damn near flawless.