I'm confident in saying that Super Crate Box is one of the best PSM titles.
Super Crate Box was released a little while back on PCs and iOS devices. With the launch of PlayStation Mobile, it’s being released again, but this time it has buttons. I had the opportunity to check the game out before it was initially released a long time ago, but besides for that I hadn’t touched it until its PSM launch. I’m confident in saying that Super Crate Box is one of the best PSM titles. At $3.49, is it worth the extra $1.50 to play the game with buttons? I say yes, and here’s why.
At its core, Super Crate Box is reminiscent an arcade game. The objective is to achieve a high score by collecting crates that drop onto platforms in 2-dimensional field. Enemies drop from the top of the screen, walk a simple path toward the bottom, and, if they’re not dealt with, they fall through the fire and teleport to the top of the screen. This time, though, they’re pissed off, as is made very clear by their increased speed and bright red color. For a visual, think back to the battle mode in Super Mario Bros. 3. The twist in Super Crate Box is that each time you grab a crate, your weapon changes to another random weapon that you have unlocked.
When you first play the game, there are only a couple of weapons (pistol, dual pistol) available to swap between when you pick up a crate. Over time, though, you unlock 11 more weapons. The guns (and katana) are very different in how they are used to waste enemies. Their various perks and drawbacks are what make the game a constant joy to play. For example, the rocket launcher kills everything in a relatively large area but takes a long time to reload. The grenade launcher has a similar area of effect but shoots on a small arc. The flamethrower ignites the floor and does damage over time to everything that walks through it, but it also burns your feet, which means you bounce around on it, losing your extremely important ability to jump. It won’t take long for you to establish favorites (the revolver, the laser rifle) and most hated (the flamethrower, the shotgun).
The game has an 8-bit style that fits it well. It plays like a hardcore old-school high score chase, and the art style gives off that vibe. The enemies are creepy looking skull creatures. There are small green skulls, big green skulls, floating white skulls, and floating purple skulls. The green skulls take more shots to dispose of, naturally, and the floating white skulls are annoying in their own special way. The three maps vary in platform makeup and overall theme. The first map looks something like a construction site made up of red girders. The second is a science lab, blue colored with a central platform that enemies can’t access. The third level is a moon temple with two fiery bottoms to double the potential for getting the bad guys angry. Each level has subtle, unique animations based on your movement that I really appreciated. The backdrop, a cityscape filled with silhouettes of buildings, floats to the left or right depending on which direction you’re running. In the lab level, there are two screens that depict your animations. In the moon temple level, collecting crates raises an ancient thingamajig in the background. They’re little touches that make the game more fun to look at.
All of the music is done by Eirik Suhrke, the guy behind the music to Spelunky and other games. It’s catchy, and the tunes will stay with you for a bit after you power down your Vita. The game records a bunch of statistics including your playtime (mine is currently greater than my Borderlands 2 playtime…), how many enemies you’ve killed and how many times they’ve killed you, the number of times you sliced through yourself using the disc gun or fell through the fire, and many more. It’s neat to see all of that stuff, and there’s even an percentage for how much you’ve unlocked total. When you get good enough to reach high scores on the three levels, SMFT Mode is unlocked on each of them. I have this to say about SMFT Mode: It is Super Mega F’in Tough.
I recommend Super Crate Box to anyone who enjoys jumping, shooting, collecting, and high scoring. It’s a thrill to juggle the crowd controlling necessary to stay alive with grabbing boxes to increase your score. The fact that your weapon changes each time you collect a crate forces you to constantly be on your toes, adjusting your strategy accordingly. The game plays wonderfully on the Vita. The handheld nature of the game makes it easy to pick up and play at a moment’s notice, something I did extensively, and the buttons provide the feedback necessary to make those precise jumps. Protip: both shoulder buttons shoot your guns, so you don’t have to use the ‘O’ button. I would have liked a few more stages, but the game still provides a ton of replay value for a very reasonable price.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
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