Aside from the unique personalities, each android also has her own particular loadout of weapons. Every character has a primary weapon and a secondary weapon, which is restricted in its number of uses due to a heating mechanic wherein it has to cool down after being fired before being used again. These weapons vary from the straight-forward, i.e., an assault rifle, a shotgun, or a laser beam, to the rather inventive, such as spinning helper robot that flies away from your android based on how hard you press the fire button. I mentioned earlier that the way the stages shift as you play leads to some different tactics depending on which android you select, and this is where the second part of that equation comes into play.
For example, one stage has an open pit in the middle from which enemies crawl out, with some smaller pits opening/closing around the edges. While playing as Scratch with her laser beam and seeker missile secondary, I blazed through the level without having to worry too much about positioning. When I switched to Peanut, who uses a gun that shoots out magma in a limited range for her primary and a drill that shoots her forward and damages whatever she hits as a secondary, I had to move around more. This meant I was forced to deal with the pits and enemies that, previously, I wasn’t aware even existed. In another instance, I was struggling for a while against a particular boss using Lemon, who has a spread shot primary and shoots missiles as her secondary. During one phase of the fight, I could not do enough damage to the boss in time to trigger the next phase (and thereby, a battery drop so the battery could be recharged). Part of this was no doubt due to my own skill, but when I switched to Coral and got close to the boss to maximize the effect of her shotgun, I got through the encounter without issue.
Those tactics extend, to some degree, to the co-op play. More than “just having another gun” by your side, adding friends to the game add new tactics to your game thanks to the different loadouts of each android. Pairing an android like Shiitake, who has a slow rate of fire but a high damage output, with the faster Cactus helps you compensate for the weaknesses of each while fully utilizing their strengths. You will need every advantage you can get, too, as things get a little more difficult the more players that are added.
New enemy spawns and more enemy waves make a once familiar level a little tougher to get through. Outside of sharing in the glory of beating a level, there isn’t much else that’s shared. Charging up your gun is a solo affair, and power-ups (excluding the one that freezes all foes) only directly benefit the android that picks it up; however, those kinds of short-term boosts are beneficial to the team as a whole so it usually matters more that somebody got it and put it to use. If one of your friends goes down in a hail of fire, they’re responsible for getting themselves back into the fight. It’s a little disappointing that you’re unable to interact with your partner in more ways, but that doesn’t exactly put a damper on the fun, either.
After playing countless variations of twin-stick shooters over the past few years (all of which usually involved zombies), I was definitely feeling burnt out. Within moments of playing Assault Android Cactus, though, I was feeling a little rejuvenated. Here was a game that reminded me of playing arcade shooters. The different character loadouts, the power-ups, and the short, focused stages are all hallmarks, to me, of the games I played in my youth and which, to some degree, feel lost in the shuffle of making the next zombie shooter. Add to all of that a cast of characters that are just that right bit of amusing and you’ve got a game that exceeds the reductive phrase of “just another twin-stick shooter.”
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with up to four players locally to battle through waves of enemies and fearsome bosses. Players can play through the game's entire campaign, combat all the bosses in Boss Rush, survive as long as possible in Infinity Mode, and play through the daily challenge in Daily Mode
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.