Review: Apache Overkill

Posted by on May 21st, 2011 | 0 Comments | Tags:

Apache Overkill is a sidescrolling score-attack shmup that has been ported from the Flash platform to PlayStation minis. Hold down the fire button as planes, tanks, turrets, and more scroll in from the right and attack the crap out of you. Why don’t you take a minute to play the original game, then come back and read a few differences that make this version an underachiever? Click it real good. Fun, right? I think so.

The PSminis version of the game is similar in gameplay but stirs the pot a bit in a few different areas. The most obvious change is that the game now has buttons. What is probably a mistake is the mapping of each weapon to a different button. X shoots your default guns and rockets, square fires missiles, O drops bombs, R shoots a laser, and L emits a nuke which clears the screen and does a fair amount of damage to bosses. Making it so that you have to press O to drop a bomb and square to shoot a missile, all the while trying to keep your thumb on X to shoot your guns complicates the game. The last thing this game needs is complicating. The Flash version is fun due in large part to its simplicity. The game is split up into 99 levels that follow the same pattern: a bunch of waves, a mini-boss, a bunch of waves, a boss.

I’m not sure splitting the game into missions is a good choice. For the newly introduced multiplier, which is based on destroying entire waves of enemies, it works. Because the game is on the PSP, it’s actually quite nice to flick the power switch after a mission or two and return later. However, its syncopated nature means there’s a boss at the end of every mission. Scratch that; there’s the boss at the end of each mission. The mini-bosses throughout the level are cool because they switch between a few different carrier-type planes. What’s especially good about these bosses is that the action doesn’t stop when it arrives; jets and tanks and turrets still scroll in while you struggle to down the humongous aircraft. The action does stop, however, when the boss arrives at the end of each mission. When the slightly-bigger-that-yours chopper cruises onto the screen, everything else halts and you’re required to focus your fire on it. Over time, the boss chopper will gain more weapons and get progressively tougher (read: it learns how to ram you into submission). For a game whose entire structure is repetitive to a t, tossing in the same chopper every two minutes only highlights the monotony.

It’s not the gameplay that makes this port unappealing to me. To the contrary, the simple score attack gameplay is one of the main things I liked (check the top of the review; it’s bulleted!). The graphics are decent. On a PSP you won’t notice some of the fuzzier sprites and pixelated fire effects, but the game does not look good on a PS3. The best thing about the graphics is how the screen’s scrolling slows down or speeds up according to which direction you move. For instance, if too many enemies enter the screen at once, you can move to the left and slow everything down a bit. I know I’m grasping for straws here, but somewhere behind its crummy graphics and repetitive gameplay, there’s a fun game here. Also, I like parallax scrolling. Who doesn’t? The sound effects are fine, except for the cat-call whistle. In the Flash version of the game, this sound effect plays when you destroy a house to reveal a partially nude man or woman. In the PSm version, the men/women are absent but the sound effect remains. What you’re left with is a cat-call that goes off at random while you’re playing. It’s dumb to dote on this as a problem with the PSm version, but I was sad to see that bit of juvenile humor stripped from the game. Maybe the people at Playerthree are so damned attractive that they didn’t notice the spontaneous whistle. They’re used to it, and thus block it out. Maybe.

So there you have it. I like Overkill Apache. Apache Overkill, however, lost something in translation that made the original mind-numbingly fun.

A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Portable version of the game.

General Info

  • Bosses
  • Repetitive