Retro Faith favourite Ratalaika Games have publish another retro inspired arcade game. This time the wonderful folk at developer Petite Games bring us Super Destronaut Land Wars, a retro inspired arcade shooter on a budget. It features first person action spread across 30 challenges with a few arcade modes thrown in. Currently under $5 on the Switch store and also available for PS4, Vita and Xbox.
There is no story to Destronaut you are simply in a vector style arena tasked with simple challenges such as kill 20 enemies or collect a certain amount of coins. The premise is simple but as you would expect the difficulty ramps up as you progress and some of the later challenges are seriously tough. A few levels grant you only one hit point so you have to avoid every attack whilst taking down your foes. It evokes the spirit of classic arcade games giving a gentle nostalgia hit.
The entire game takes place in one large arena that reminded us of a game of Laser Tag or Quasar for those old enough to remember. As you blast your way through each challenge different enemies start to appear and all resemble Space Invader foes. It is a lovely homage and they stand out with vibrant colours. They each have different patterns with some that teleport short distances and some having powerful projectiles.
Although the game is simple the gameplay is fun and takes its inspiration from Doom and other classic 90’s shooters. It is all about your skills of avoiding while shooting. You have a health bar that depletes with each hit and some levels allow for your health to regenerate. You have access to a handful of weapons from a simple rifle to grenade launcher. The weapons are actually quite different and your tactics change depending on what gun you have at the time.
You start each challenge with a different weapon but some levels have a shop that allow you try new ones. As you collect coins dropped by defeated enemies you exchange them for shop items or stat increases. You have health boosts and damage boosts to purchase amongst the guns and additional armour. If truth be told we rarely used the shop as the action was frantic and we would often complete the level challenge before acquiring enough coin to try anything new.
This is the only real shortcoming in this otherwise good value budget blaster. At times the challenges, whether that be hit a certain score or enemy count, become redundant. As long you keep moving and hunting enemies you will complete the challenge without really needing to think about it. The later challenges are more problematic as health and movement restraints make the gameplay tougher. The challenges feel like an attempt to mask the fact the gameplay repeats itself over and over.
You have basic strafe and jump abilities and the controls are solid. Your aim is accurate and avoiding enemy fire feels natural. Your only other ability is a Doom style rampage mode that is awarded by stringing kills together and avoiding fire. It lasts about ten seconds but is great fun as you rush around wielding double guns. This is a fun game to play if a little repetitive in places. Shooter veterans will find it a breeze but there is a certain 90’s shooter charm about it that will please most players.
Each of the 30 challenges ranks you from gold to bronze or no rank at all if you take too long. Getting gold is not always straight forward and some challenges will take a few goes. Once the challenges are complete you can turn your attention to a few arcade modes. These mix the gameplay with tweaks such as a harder mode that is perfect for high score junkies. There is nothing beyond this however so the experience will be short lived for many. But for a budget title this has just about the right amount of longevity.
The graphics in Super Destronaut are great for the price point. There is a real vector graphic feel with bold lines and colours that pop as you speed around corners. It is a shame that there is only one arena as the style is eye catching and will please retro fans. The animation is smooth and we did not find any graphical issues during our play through. The only criticism would be some of the walls are bland and the game feels slightly desolate at times. A few extra enemy types would not have gone a miss either.
One of the standout aspects of Super Destronaut is the pumping 90’s soundtrack. If I did not know better I might have thought I was in a rave with house music blasting. For a budget title the music is impressive and certainly pays homage to Doom. The remaining sound is okay and does its job with lots of sci-fi ‘pew pews’ and explosions. It is a shame the enemies do not make more noises as you attack them as it would have rounded out the retro feel perfectly.
Super Destronaut Land Wars is a great homage to shooters of old. It captures the spirit of arcade gaming during its golden era and the early days of first person shooters. It may be a short experience but is good value for the price. The challenge ramps up towards the end and there is always a high score to chase. The only real let down is the lack of variety in levels but hopefully Petite Games revisit this with a sequel and more content.