Title: Assault Android Cactus

Platform: Steam, Windows, Linux, OSX, PS4, PS Vita, Wii U

Reviewed on: Windows

Genre: Arcade Shooter

Players: Single player, Local 1-4 players Co OP

Written by Bad Demoman 1st November 2015

AI don't see a great deal of Arcade-style top down shooters anymore. I suppose that's partly because I don't see many Arcades anymore, and it's a bit of a outdated genre. After all, why play something as simple as a box with enemies streaming at you from all sides when you can have a fully immersive and detailed world to play around in? Still, these games with the conventions of the Arcade Greats, in spite of overcoming the technical limitations that set the rules, have always appealed to me. Being from the UK and of a certain age, my experience of the thrills of a hall of glowing screens and synthesized sounds was limited, but what little I had was a much loved gaming experience. Witch Beam's Assault Android Cactus, with its suitably

arcade-esque name, seeks to sate the needs of us who yearn for a earlier age, even us who never truly experienced it.


The presence of a story is perhaps an early departure from the norm of a top down shooter, but its present nonetheless and it's fairly barebones anyway. Cactus is an Android sent to relieve a spaceship of a mutiny staged by its robotic employees, particularly the four Overlords of the ship who control various aspects of the ship's operation. Rescuing various androids along the way (who then become playable!), the story that sets Assault Android Cactus apart from the conventions of a shooter allows for some interesting things. The result is a cohesive level structure with different zones and even a couple of levels that follow a path rather than being a mere arena for the destruction of your foes.


Each of the aforementioned androids has their own style of play through different weapons, subweapons and dialogue with bosses, giving them a personality of sorts, even if it is a fairly small one. My favourite of the androids, Starch, exhibits this particularly well – whenever she speaks to the overlords, they ask how she escaped her containment after “the incident”. Clearly, Starch has more than a few screws loose. The different weapons available are similar to the standard you'd expect in a shooter at first – spread shot, seekers, you get the drill. Later characters make things a little more interesting though, such as Aubergines controllable blade that adds another element to concentration on both dodging and making your shots connect. This variety adds a considerable amount of replayability to AAC, something it's not lacking in the first place due to it's main appeal, at least in my opinion – Scores.

In favour of a standard life system, AAC uses a Battery system. Your battery life slowly ticks down as you progress through a stage, and once it reaches zero, you’re done. You can refill it by collecting battery pickups from enemies, and the only punishment for death is a reduction in score and loss of weapon energy, which upgrades your weapon. If you’ve died to much, you simply won’t have the battery life you need to complete the level! At one point an AI Android fights you and tries to get the battery upgrades before you can, and it’s one of the more interesting fights in the game. I’d love to see it implemented as a Vs. Mode!


Scores may seem a bit old hat now, but back in the Arcades it was something to strive for. Having your name on that board (or at least a 3-lettered approximation of your name. Or, if you'd prefer, the shortest profanity you can think of) was something of a badge of honour. Assault Android Cactus makes sure to deliver on that sense of achievement by scoring you against the rest of the world on each stage. As a result, the truly competitive can get to really mastering a level, choosing the absolute perfect android and memorizing the enemy placement to chain kill every single enemy on the stage! Of course, for some that would be too simple. So if you've perfected every stage but yearn for more challenge, fear not – the Daily Drive is for you. A different level every day to rank yourself against the rest. The staunch competition of the local Arcade is back.

Co-Op is an absolute blast, with a perfect mix of competitive and cooperative. Ultimately you’re just trying to help each other finish the level, but the person who contributes the most score gets a golden crown. Let’s be honest, a golden crown is far more important than any level progression. The game handles being at a distance from each other fairly well. The only times I found the action difficult to follow were places where I genuinely had difficulty in solo play too. Having said that, I strangely found it harder when me and my multiplayer partner were close together, as the camera left little room to see further offscreen. Weapon Energy also becomes an issue in Multiplayer, as it’s not shared. If one person sucks up all the energy, the other player is likely to have a hard time staying alive, and death results in complete loss of energy. It’s a vicious cycle that's perpetuated by the fact that Weapon Energy gets sucked towards the person with the most!


Even if you're not an Arcade Kid I can't recommend Assault Android Cactus enough. Sure, I'm glad that nowadays we have the technology to expand beyond the arena, but the score-based struggle of a leaderboard has a certain satisfaction that's hard to find elsewhere. AAC does a great job of recreating that feeling on a global scale. Fortunately, unlike the slightly more modern competition that you'll find on today's online gaming platforms, Assault Android Cactus will not retort to your glorious successes or failures with a condescending pre-teen calling you a scrub and claiming intimate knowledge of your mother. So if nothing else, it's got that going for it.



Relive the Arcade Competition,

Story and likeable characters – in a shooter!,

A feeling of satisfaction like no other.



You'll waste hours upon hours trying to best the score of someone half the world away.

Final Verdict,

Assault Android Cactus gets a 8/10.


Bad Demoman


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