As the story goes, AAC is about a space fighter pilot that has to rescue a giant spaceship. The pilot’s name is Cactus, and this massive starship has some kind of (insert drum roll)....robot uprising on it. Oh, and it also has some awesome graphics as well as an awesome soundtrack to boot! :)
Gameplay-wise, it's an all out frantic in-all-directions shmup. You can shoot up all different types of robots you can destroy with your trusty weapons. When I say weapons, I mean there is a LOT of weapons upgrades to choose from in the aid to get rid of those robotic monstrosities once and for all. Although you will only start off with a small selection of heroines, the roster expands as you venture forth into the campaign.
Each of the eight characters have distinctly different play-styles and you might find that certain characters are more useful in different situations. For example, Starch can be good due to her long-range and concentrated fire, while Holly can be useful because her main weapon has a focused spray shot that can thin out crowds of enemies with ease.
Characters have two weapons that they can use, one as primary and the secondary weapon is accessible on a timer due to its ability to deal more damage to surrounding enemies. However, when the time comes, you'll need to switch over which can leave you wide-open for a split second, it can also lead to your chain being broken if you’re too slow. It adds a nice risk and reward element to weapon-switching, as quite often you'll need to in order to keep off the waves of enemies coming at ya.
The design of the levels and zones initially available are well varied and offer a nice learning curve to the later levels where the action really heats up. Levels start off quite basic, but as you progress and make your way further into the campaign, they will start mutating, adding obstacles in your way and even producing hazardous parts that must be navigated around, all whilst trying to stay alive thanks to the onslaught of enemies, lovely then!
So, simple then? Just blast all enemies to smithereens and that's it? Yes, but there's more to ACC than that. As the hordes of enemies attempt to thwart your actions, you'll also have to fight against your power-reserves. As the characters are reliant on some form of synthetics, they'll need to top-up the battery to carry on functioning. The battery basically represents your life, when the battery is drained, it's game-over. Collecting batteries that drop during levels isn’t always that straight forward either, even when you’re using numerous power-ups to speed around the level and boost up the strength of your weaponry.
Once the story/campaign is done, you're given the choice of Infinity Drive and Daily Drive. These are challenge-based modes which the difficulty increases the longer you stay alive. Unfortunately, they don’t have the same levels of variety compared to the levels from story mode. It’s a pity then? Yes, but it’s an area that can be improved in future updates/patches of the title.
Overall, when done right, a twin-stick styled shmup can be one of the most enjoyable and fun genres to unwind to. I'm glad to to say that Assault Android Cactus hits (or indeed shoots) all the right buttons. It's got plenty of characters to choose from, with the ability to cater for a wide variety of play-styles and has just the right amount of chaos. Plus along with the bosses (a game of this type is NOT complete without bosses!), it adds a whole new dimension to the challenge. For all die-hard shmup fans and even casual gaming fans, I would definitely recommend checking this great blaster out.
Reviewed on PS4 by mintyfresh