the second most famous cacti
First things first; let’s drop this Assault Android Cactus + business and refer to it as AAC+ from now on, yeah? I don’t want to type it, you don’t want to read it. Let’s just move on. So what is this clunkily-titled titled game all about then? Well, at its metallic heart it’s an unfussy, arcadey twin-stick shooter that plays like a modern-day Smash TV. That particular classic just happens to be one of my all time faves, so we’re off to a ruddy good start.
In AAC+ You play as Cactus or one of her fellow Assault Androids (intergalactic law enforcers, obviously), more of whom you unlock as you progress. Each character has their own primary and secondary weapons so if you find yourself failing at a particular level, or more likely at a boss, then choosing a character with a more appropriate weapon set is usually the way forward. That’s not to say that AAC+ is especially challenging; it’s certainly at the easier end of what is a fairly hardcore genre, but a couple of tough bosses towards the finale should prevent you from cruising through the whole thing.
“It all makes for an attractive and approachable package and if one were looking for a My First Twin Stick Shooter, or just a gleefully chaotic way to disengage your brain for a while”
The gameplay itself is immensely fun and obliterating wave after wave of enemy droids feels fantastic. There’s not a great deal of variety in those enemies, but blowing them to bits never gets old. Amidst the chaos, you’ll also need to keep your eyes peeled for power-ups and, in particular, batteries. Effectively, your battery represents your health but instead of being reduced by taking hits, it gradually depletes over time. Catching a bullet from an enemy is still best avoided though as taking too many will eventually stun your character momentarily. This cancels out any multipliers and power-ups you’ve acquired, and your battery continues to drain while you’re rendered immobile. It’s an enjoyably refreshing approach to survival and one that encourage the player to take risks without fear of insta-death.
Silly name and battery mechanic aside, nothing about AAC+ is massively original and that is absolutely fine with me. It totally sticks the landing of almost everything it sets out to do. Even the barely-there story, presented as it is in chunks of sass-heavy dialogue, adds to the overall light-heartedness of the game. That approach carries through to the bombastic presentation – visuals are bright and cartoonish and the music is suitably adrenalin pumping. The controls too, are intuitive enough to allow anyone to pick up and dive confidently into the action. It all makes for an attractive and approachable package and if one were looking for a My First Twin Stick Shooter, or just a gleefully chaotic way to disengage your brain for a while, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend AAC+.