Indie developers love to make old-school arena shooters. Super Mutant Alien Assault allows you to play with a friend to blast away alien scum as a couple of robot chums but does it do enough to set itself apart in the genre?
Super Mutant Alien Assault is played by running and jumping within single-screen arenas while avoiding taking damage from aliens that gradually board the ship. Thankfully, you can pick up a wide assortment of weapons and equipment to fend them off. Each type of armament is deployed with a different button so you'll find yourself using most of the controller once you're fully decked out in order to become an alien-slaughtering machine. Firing an assortment of guns, throwing various explosives, unleashing special abilities, and using handy dodge maneuvers while overcoming seemingly impossible odds will make you feel like the coolest droid in all the galaxy. Additionally, each stage is randomized and often features a different objective. For example, you may have to move items from point A to point B or survive while deactivating timed explosives. There are a few boss fights, too, so get ready for a challenge.
As you can already tell, Super Mutant Alien Assault looks retro with its pixel-filled environments and sprites. The aliens come alive with distinct personalities and suitable animations that make them pop off the screen while your robot zips around like the speedy alien hunter it is. The music consists of mostly dubstep with a few other electronic genres in the mix, too. I must admit, although I can't stand dubstep, it's implemented so well here that I actually enjoyed it. Hearing it build up and have the bass drop just when a countdown completes adds a layer of fun that you don't usually get in indie game soundtracks.
Super Mutant Alien Assault consists of three galaxies. You can unlock a couple of additional difficulty settings by completing the entire campaign from start to finish without dying, too. As you play, you'll acquire tons of weapons that spawn from then on as well as new robots to play as and items that you can start with. These unlock after beating certain thresholds of stages which is a rather rewarding way to earn goodies. The only extra is endless mode where you begin with very limited health and see how long you can survive to climb the leaderboard. It's fun to give it a few attempts but it really isn't the kind of mode that you'll spend hours perfecting.
Unfortunately, the campaign can be completed within about fifteen minutes. Of course, it may take you a few tries but it isn't actually that challenging on normal difficulty. Once you beat it, the only things left to do are play around in endless mode and try to unlock further difficulty settings. Considering it's such a short game, it's very difficult to summon the enthusiasm to play it for much longer than an hour. I wish there were more modes, a list of challenges, mini-games, or anything to help extend its lifespan because I'm quite happy with the simplistic yet satisfying core gameplay. There are simply not enough ways to enjoy it.
Super Mutant Alien Assault is a fun retro 2D shooter that's a blast to play with a friend. However, it's so short-lived that you'll probably find yourself playing something else soon after you boot it up.
- + Tight cooperative 2D arena shooting with a variety of cool weapons and missions
- + Great retro visuals and dubstep music
- + Unlock system and endless mode are nifty
- - Incredibly short campaign can take as little as fifteen minutes to complete
- - Not much replay value due to a lack of additional modes