Following on the success of 2009’s excellent South Park: Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! , another Comedy Central cartoon gets the videogame treatment in the form of Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon. Ugly Americans is a bizarre animated comedy for adults that airs during Comedy Central’s Adult Swim programming block. The show takes place in an alternate universe version of New York in which humans, wizards, zombies, demons, and myriad other monsters all live together in relative harmony. Sounds like the perfect setting for a game, does it not?
A recurring theme on the show is that demons constantly try (and fail) to bring about the apocalypse and the end of humanity. It’s a cultural thing! That also happens to be the premise of the game. Super hot demon lady Callie Maggotbone’s father enlists the help of a new female demon (created just for the game) in a plot to bring about the end of days. This causes New York’s rabble – hordes of man birds, zombies, and demons to run amuck. The task of stopping it all falls on the shoulders of the always vigilant members of the Department of Immigration.
Four of the show’s main characters are playable: Mark, the ever-optimistic social worker and most normal member of the cast; Callie, Mark’s girlfriend and boss at the DOI; Frank Grimes, the immigrant-hating head of DOI’s Law Enforcement division; and Leonard Powers, Mark’s centuries old-magician, slacker, and alcoholic coworker. (Sadly, Mark’s zombie roommate Randall doesn’t make an appearance, presumably since he doesn’t work for the DOI.) Each character has unique stats, special moves, and weapon proficiencies, differentiating them as much as a twin-stick shooters calls for.
Yes, Apocalypsegeddon is a twin-stick shooter, though it feels different from most. The heroes must tackle 8 standard levels and three boss levels in their quest to maintain the status quo. The level design is reminiscent of beat-em-ups like Double Dragon, with players running from left to right, encountering groups of enemies, and then moving on. It works pretty well, though the actual level layouts are rather mundane and too-similar to each other.
Dotting the landscape of each stage are numerous breakable objects like trash bags and hot dog carts. They may contain money (used to purchase extras from the shop), or weapons. Every level offers 3-4 unique projectile weapons, such as Boomerangs, Magic 8-Balls, and demon Mating Bones (!). Their firing patterns, rates, and damage all vary, plus every weapon gets special bonuses like extra damage or homing when wielded by one or two specific characters. Players can even swap weapons among themselves, making it easier to collect them all.
Destructible objects sometimes drop rare items too. Each of the game’s 8 main levels hides a case file that Leonard carelessly tossed away in favor of more drinkin’. The catch is that whether they appear or not is random, so it may take several visits to each level to find its file. Plus only the player who collects the file keeps it, meaning it’s easier to hunt for them on your own. Collecting all the files unlocks new extras in the shop as well as four special, super powerful weapons. Once you get the special weapons, there’s little reason to go back to the regular ones, but I enjoyed finding them all my first time out.
Level 5 introduces a new rare collectible: demon babies. At the start of the level, the DOI team finds Dante, the baby whose father tried to sell him off in the show. Pick him up and beat the level to unlock not only an avatar award, but the ability to find more babies. Note that only one player gets the baby per visit to the level, so you may need to visit it more than once. The remaining three babies randomly appear in past levels, thankfully marked on the map with a demon baby icon. Carrying a baby provides different stat bonuses, like making pickups last longer or increasing XP gains.