You know what wakes me up in the morning? A nice, steaming hot cup of badassery with assault androids. Ah, can’t you smell the fried circuits and laser beams? By golly, it sure gets the heart pumping! Fried electronics aside, Assault Android Cactus+ brings Witch Beam Games’ twin-stick shooter to Nintendo’s console after being released on every console imaginable, from from the defunct PlayStation Vita, PS4 and Xbox One. It’s about time our friendly neighborhood Switch got a version to call its own, because it seems to fit much better on a platform where portable chaos reigns supreme.
My colleagues Cory Galliher and Chris Mitchell have reviewed those versions in the past, and I can’t say I disagree with them. It’s hard to argue with a game that lets you endlessly blow stuff up without feeling guilty afterwards.
Cactuses don’t make great shooters, but an android called “Cactus” sure does, at least once she discovers the situation on a spaceship she crashed into. The robots have gone rogue! And taken over the ship’s systems! So it’s up to her and fellow androids to take care of the problem! Assault Android Cactus+ is chaos incarnate, with endless streams of enemies coming at every turn of the thumbstick. Each character has a primary weapon that deals a constant stream of damage, but takes a while to whittle down bullet sponges. Androids have a secondary weapon that deals a significant amount of damage to slice through hordes of enemies. The secondary weapon runs on a cool down though, so the two have to be balanced carefully so you’re not being laid out on the floor every three seconds.
Like most people, I’ve been conditioned to pay attention to health bars. These lovely android ladies don’t have health, but they do possess a battery that drains over time whether it’s firing a weapon or being knocked down by an enemy. One too many hits knocks down an android, but if there’s enough battery power left they can reboot at the cost of losing a bit of power.
Despite being a twin-stick shooter, the androids felt alive and with a constant sense of motion. Standing still isn’t an option since it’s so easy for a swarm of enemies to trap a hapless hero in a corner (where they’ll literally be torn apart). There are large, box-like robots that act as bullet sponges while dealing devastating blows to annoying fly-like drones that zoom around in mesmerizing patterns. Levels were just as challenging from having simple fixed points to dodge around to cases where the floor fell away when not being used only to assemble into a playing field. My point-and-shoot strategy didn’t change overly much throughout these levels, but there was just enough to keep me on my toes.
My fellow gunslinger Chris was kind enough to help me survive the chaos. We used Joy-Cons to tackle the swarms of baddies together and discovered there was an auto-aim system in place to compensate for the lack of a second analog stick. Our characters would turn automatically to the enemies closest to them while we moved around the screen. It was a nice touch, especially considering it’s a game that can have up to four people play.
What else can I say about Assault Android Cactus+? If you haven’t played it before, play it now! Each android let me explore different playstyles, like Lemon’s classic spreadshot and rockets that made it easy to plow through crowds of enemies. Cactus is pretty straightforward with her constant bullet stream and flamethrower to gain an edge when she needs it. Assault Android Cactus on Switch earns its extra “plus” as you’re able to take the chaos with you. It’s also loads of fun, either solo or with friends in tow. Ssometimes all you need is to turn your brain off and shoot a few robots. Thousands and thousands of robots! It never ends!