Super Crate Box is the game that inspired Muffin Knight, a now famous iPhone retro game. A single screened action platform game that will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played Muffin Knight, Super Crate Box is a really good game, taken in short bursts.
The game has a great sense of style, from the beautiful retro graphics and great characters to the witty lines of text whenever you unlock a new weapon
Super Crate Box takes place on a single screen, with the aim being to collect as many crates as you can before the inevitable happens and the enemies get the upper hand and kill you. Every time you collect a crate, you are awarded with a random weapon, and it is here that the game excels.
You start off with a standard pistol but soon find a startling array of death dealing tools are at your disposal. From machine guns and mini guns with a hilarious recoil effect to grenade and rocket launchers, there are plenty of decent standard weapons, but it is the weapons such as the disc launcher and katana that really make the game what it is. Both weapons seem like more of a hindrance at first, as the katana is seemingly far too short range to be any good to you, and the disc launcher appear to kill you more than it kills the enemies as the deadly discs it fires rebound off the walls.
However, you soon learn that the katana can make you almost invincible it you master it, and the disc launcher also becomes deadly in the right hands. There are quite a few weapons to unlock, and you will probably find them all within the first twenty minutes of play.
There are only three types of enemies to battle, and they all spawn from the top of the screen and make their way to the bottom, where a fire pit awaits them. If they get to the pit they then reappear at the top, red, angry and moving twice as fast. A large part of your tactics will be to stop them reaching the pit. The developer has done a stand up job with the touch controls, I must say.
The fact that you are randomly given a weapon each time you collect a crate adds a sense of variety and spontaneity to the game, but also shows up its main shortcoming; that it essentially feels like a bonus mode from a bigger title.
That is not necessarily a bad thing, after all some of the very best games on iPhone are high score challenges. The problem here is that you will find everything the game has to offer in under an hour, as there are only three stages plus two welcome extra modes. The game is extremely difficult, as one touch from one of the enemies kills you, resetting your crate count to zero; frustrating if you had 39 of the 40 required crates for the next unlock. Difficult yes, but I doubt anyone will have not unlocked most of the content in under a hour.
That just leaves high scores to aim for, a prospect that will no doubt entertain many but I was left wanting a little. I’m happy with the format of a high score, single screen platform game but I would expect hundreds of levels and dozens of different enemies instead of the meagre offering here.
It really isn’t that I don’t ‘get it’, as I do. I am a huge fan of games like this and have fond memories of playing many games similar to this in seedy seaside arcades in the 1980’s. I just feel that this needs an injection of variety, both to the levels and to the pacing.
A gorgeous and addictive game that at first appears better than it actually is, this is a decent arcade platformer crippled by a distinct lack of content. I can forgive Pac-Man Championship Edition for a lack of levels, as that game has an innate sense of variety, something that is critically lacking from Super Crate Box, as fun as it is.
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