The Genki Star has been taken over and it’s your job as part of the police to help take it back. Once aboard, you’ll meet with the crew and fight your way through to the core.
Assault Android Cactus is a 2.5D twin-stick bullet hell shooter that stars Cactus, an android who works for the police. She teams up with the crew of the Genki Star and they’ll need to fight through 25 levels of crazy robots and lifeforms to try and take back their ship. Prepare yourself, because this is going to be a crazy ride!
After the initial tutorial and introduction, you’ll be thrown into the level select screen. Each area has a total of 5 levels including the boss, and in order to move onto the next area you need to defeat said boss. While the game starts out fairly easy, the first boss may give you some troubles if you aren’t used to bullet hell games. However, it’s very easy to figure out what you need to do so that you can beat him. This is how all of the areas will play out – not as difficult areas followed by a tricky boss.
When you first start the game you’ll have the choice of 4 different androids you can choose from. As you complete each area you’ll unlock an additional android to play. Each one plays slightly differently, and each has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. Cactus is great at performing burst damage, however to do so you have to put her right in the line of fire. Holly can use her main attack to seek out nearby enemies and then follow it up with her cannonball to provide a strong burst. In general, your best damage is dealt while at a close range, so if you’re after those elusive S+ ranks, you better learn to dodge!
The bosses, as I said, will provide the greatest challenge in the main story. Each one has a different kind of pattern you need to learn, and some of them may end up trying to drive you to rage quitting. It all culminates in the end when you have to defeat a mini boss rush sequence for the final boss. In order to defeat that boss, you’ll need to use everything you learned from the past 4 bosses in order to win. Defeating that boss (in co-op, which I’ll touch on in a bit) was an intense 4 ½ minute fight, and if I ever want to get that platinum, I’ll need to do it again!
Haven’t had your fill of the bosses yet and want more? Lucky you! Once you beat the main story, Boss Rush unlocks. As it’s name implies, this mode will have you face off against each boss back-to-back. I only tried the boss rush once – dying very painfully to the second boss – but I am looking forward to giving it some more tries later.
One key element during the levels – besides having to dodge all the stuff being thrown at you – is the battery. Since your characters are androids, they can only go for so long before needing to recharge. This battery meter is essentially your life bar for the level. You do have a life bar for the characters, but once that empties you are able to get yourself back up. The battery drains from a couple key things – time and taking damage. In order to refill it, you’ll need to track down one of the battery drops that can occasionally happen when you kill an enemy. You may sometimes end up really pushing your limits to try and get these batteries, and occasionally you may end up in the situation of getting the battery but losing the level anyways. It’s definitely an interesting concept for putting a “time limit” on the levels.
Another mode available for play is the Infinity Drive mode. This mode is pretty much your survival mode of the game. You’ll go through waves of enemies, trying to make it as far as you can before your battery runs dry. While I didn’t try it after I had beat the game, when I tried it much earlier I only ever managed to make it to wave 5. This can provide a nice challenge to players, especially if you are trying to aim for the platinum (and getting all of the S+ ranks isn’t enough for you).
Finally, there’s Daily Drive mode. This mode is a lot like Infinity Drive, however instead of being set every time it changes daily. How far will you be able to make it each day? Again, I only ever tried this mode once, but from what I played it was just Infinity Drive that changes daily.
Two of the things I absolutely loved about Assault Android Cactus were the music and the graphics. The music will get you pumped to keep trying to go through the levels and bosses, even if you keep dying. You may start to find the voices a bit irritating, but they do prove useful in letting you know when a battery has spawned or what kind of power up you picked up. The graphics absolutely fit the robots-in-space theme, and if you want to make your character look absolutely hilarious, there’s an unlockable that will give them human proportions.
Assault Android Cactus features three distinct power ups. The “red” power up will give you extra damage by providing two little robots. The “yellow” powerup gives you a huge speed boost, making dodging quite a bit easier (though in some cases it can make it a lot harder). The “blue” powerup will temporarily stop all enemies currently on the screen from doing anything. All of the power ups are temporary, and other than the blue one, they will immediately wear off should you die. I had quite a few cases of grabbing a power up only to immediately get hit by a stray bullet, sending me to the ground.
The game features the ability to play locally with 1-4 players at once. I was lucky enough to be able to play the game co-op with someone. Playing co-op does but doesn’t make levels easier. On one hand, you have multiple people – and multiple androids – shooting the enemies at once. On the other hand, enemies have more HP to compensate, and you can also drain your battery faster, depending on how much each person gets hit. Playing co-op for the final boss did help provide me with the extra little boost of damage, especially for the parts I wasn’t as good at dodging in. Unfortunately there’s no online co-op, but if you’ve got some friends who also want to play, you can hook up the extra controllers and jump right into it!
Assault Android Cactus was one of the most enjoyable games I’ve played so far this year. If it hadn’t been for my hands getting sore playing, I probably would have played it a lot more than I did. I did find some of the bosses to be exceptionally irritating, and definitely felt like they were a bit too much of a difficulty boost from the rest of the area. I absolutely loved the music and art style though, and will likely be returning at some point to try and S+ some more levels. If you have a PS4 (or Steam), then I definitely suggest checking out this game – it’s an absolutely blast of a bullet hell game. Just be warned that some bosses may make you rage quit, and if they don’t, getting the S+ ranks just might make you rage quit instead!
Assault Android Cactus Review Score
Assault Android Cactus is available on PS4 and Steam. This review is based off the PS4 version.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy for review purposes.