Friday, 22 October 2010

Freeware Game Review - Super Crate Box

Super Crate Box is one of those games that, on first play, strikes you as insanely simple. Then it slowly dawns on you that it's insanely addictive, and that you've been unable to stop playing it for hours - and in fact, it's really not quite as simple as you thought.

The basic aim of the game is to collect boxes.  Easy, right?  Simple, in fact.  Made slightly less simple by the creatures that suddenly start appearing on screen.  Still, there aren't that many of them and they don't move all that fast - until they hit the fire at the bottom of the screen, that is, at which point they reappear at the top, red, angry, and three times as fast.

No problem though, you can collect weapons in the crates.  This is where pure genius comes into the game design - each crate gives you a different weapon.  Each weapon has a distinctive effect - some are more effective than others, some need to be used as short-range, others long-range, some can rebound into your player (oh how I hate the disc gun - though actually it can be very effective when used right), some weapons have a physical effect on your player character - for instance the mini-gun, very powerful as it is, blows your player right back if you're not ready for it.  The genius that I mentioned comes from the fact that, to complete a level, you have to continue collecting more crate - therefore your weapon is constantly changing, and thus your tactics have to rapidly adjust from one weapon style to the next.

There is also the question of how much to concentrate on collecting crates or destroying enemies, whether you should hold on to a good weapon until you've cleared a bit of space, all the while keeping tabs on how many enemies are on screen, how many are angry, and just how close you are to dying (yet again!).

The action is fast and furious, and that's just when it's warming up.  Fortunately your player just continues being resurrected though your progress in terms of crates collected is reset.  There are a few different levels and game modes, but basically it's a frantic battle to survive from start to finish.  The graphics are cool, very retro but nicely animated and with lots of different effects (the screen shakes when using the more powerful weapons, for instance), and the music's also very good - a bit like the better 16-bit tunes.  The game is maddeningly addictive, the "just one more go, I'll do better next time" feeling is very, very, very strong in Super Crate Box!

The only main criticism I have of this game is that while the controls are very responsive, near the bottom of the screen they tend to feel sluggish when you're trying to jump over the fires (they make enemies angry, they just make you toast) - this feels like a somewhat forced addition to the difficulty level in what is already a very challenging game.  It didn't stop me playing the game of course, but on more than one occasion it got me really annoyed.

Then I thought "just one more go, I won't get caught like that again..."

Think Llammatron put in a blender with Bombjack and you're probably somewhere near what Super Crate Box is like.  Grab your copy at

Super Crate Box from Vlambeer on Vimeo.

CaptainD's PC Gaming Blog


gnome said...

Oh no I wont. Or I just might give it a small tiny try now. Couldn't be that dangerous, could it?

CaptainD said...

Just don't say I didn't warn you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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