Friday, May 4, 2012

Super Crate Box (iOS)

Time Played: ~2hrs

What Happened:
I played this game a couple of months ago, but never got around to writing about it!

Super Crate Box is a simple game - you play as a little guy and try to collect crates, which appear at random points in the (single screen) level after the previous crate has been picked up. Enemies appear from the top of the level, a la Super Mario Bros, so you either have to avoid them, or kill them with the various weapons you pick up from the crates. The order of enemies is also randomized, although the longer you play, the greater the diversity of enemies. Each time you get a crate, you get a new, random weapon.

Crate collection gives you 2 different numbers: per life, and cumulative. At least in the first two levels, you need to collect 10 crates in a single life to unlock the next level (I'm going to make the assumption it continues on this way, but I only ever unlocked level 2). Also, all of the crates you collect while playing, regardless of your number of lives builds up as you play, and is used to unlock new weapons (and maybe other things? I only noticed weapons).

What I Liked:
Retro Aesthetic. I think the old school inspired visuals and music were great, and fit really nicely with the concept of a simple, yet brutally difficult game. The music in level one in particular helped to keep the energy high, and I think played a big role in my continuing to play for so long. 

Concept. Totally simple, super smart idea: your weapon changes each time. It works because there is a huge variety of weapons that often completely change the way you need to play - I would say the biggest part of the game is rapidly adjusting your actions to fit the weapon. I think the most fun part of the game was when I was still unlocking new weapons, since it was always surprising to see what each new one would do. Every weapon has its own advantages and disadvantages - the flamethrower covers a wide area, but isn't as strong as other guns, the disc gun and mines kill in one hit... but also hurt. I think the katana is probably really strong, but I've never managed to hit anyone with it without dying, since you need to get in so close.  

What I Didn't Like:
Controls. Sometimes it seems like the buttons aren't quite responsive - I feel like at least 30% of the time that I die, it has more to do with the controls than me. Also in level 2, the buttons actually block a bit of the level. I found myself making incorrect assumptions about if the crate was on the left or right bottom side of the screen since I was in a hurry and couldn't see.

Randomization. Obviously, randomization is part of what makes this game work. You never know what weapon you're going to get, or what enemies are going to come out, or where a crate will be. But it also makes for a lot of lives where you're just really really lucky and do well, and lives where everything just went wrong and there was pretty much no way you could have made it. Maybe it's because I never got to a point that I was really good at the game - but I felt like I had very little control over how well I was actually performing. It was more about if conditions had been favorable or not. For some reason that didn't stop me from playing though... so maybe I'm overstating it after the fact. I must have felt like I had some level of control if I was so willing to keep playing. Or maybe I just felt like I did at the time? :)

Some AI. I'm pretty sure some of the AI are like, impossible to beat. Maybe it's because I'm bad at games... but man, some of those guys. It was like "oh, he showed up. I'm dead."

How Do I Feel About Continuing?:
This game is definitely a 'time waster' - so while I found the experience enjoyable (...and incredibly frustrating) and I may pick it up again every once in awhile, I think for the most part my time with it is over. It was definitely worth what I paid for it! :)

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