Assault Android Cactus is hectic, violent, and colorful. And so is the game with the same name as the character. Short, sweet, and filling that void of “something quick and fast to play with friends”.
There is a plot of sorts to Assault Android Cactus, although it makes about much sense as the naming scheme. The main character, Cactus, is an android working for an intergalactic police force, or something similar. She comes across a spaceship, it starts firing upon her, so she does the first reasonable thing, RAMMING SPEED ENGAGE. Turns out the robots have started a revolution, so you’ve gotta put a stop to that. You join up with three other, rather unwilling, assistants to fight your way through waves of robots until you stop the source of the uprising.
AAC plays like most top-down shooters, you run and gun through waves of enemies in an enclosed area. You move and fire with an auto-lock-on, and you have a secondary fire, various power ups to collect, and you can upgrade your weapon with in-stage points if you collect enough. More unique to Cactus is the battery meter. Basically, instead of a timer or traditional health bar, Cactus features a battery gauge that decreases over time, and when you die, as long as you have battery left, you can stand back up, although you lose your weapon upgrades.
Cactus is composed of a couple of levels, each with a group of stages and a boss at the end. And let me tell you, some of the bosses can be pretty tough. As you progress through the game you unlock a bunch of different characters, my personally favorite being the lava cannon/drill character, while my friend liked Starch best <pineapple>. Each character has their own unique weapon types, and they all work differently, which is really nice to see. Too often are “alternate characters” really just palette swaps, but not here.
After about two hours, when you’ve beaten the game, you unlock a harder difficulty, as well as a plethora of new options and unlockables, such as game modifiers and concept art.
Assault Android Cactus is hectic and possibly epilepsy inducing, but it’s really fun, and probably about the right length before you start getting tired of a sitting. There are a lot of bonus features to unlock, and the new difficulty does provide both a serious challenge, as well as more “plot”, if that’s actually what you’re after. The cutesy character models and high energy is definitely engaging, although the biggest draw for me is having something where I can grab a group of four of us, sit down on the couch, and all play together, without yelling at each other like we’re playing Mario Kart.