Vlambeer’s first release is more frenetic than a headless chicken on steroids. If you enjoy action-packed platforming and generally kicking arse, you won’t want to stop playing this piece of pixel perfection.
Super Crate Box is a platformer in which you score points by collecting crates. Sounds mediocre, right? Not when the crates contain any of a huge array of weapons! From katanas to revolvers to grenade launchers, this Mario Bros.-esque mini-game-of-sorts packs in almost everything. Interestingly, you don’t score any points for destroying the hordes of enemies flung at you (thank heavens the controls are responsive) but that doesn’t mean shooting stuff takes the form of a pointless add-on. No, every time you don’t bother to shoot an enemy down, it will fall back through the level going twice as fast; if you want to score decently, there’s no option but to fire away. The fact that crates make you obligatorily take control of the held weapon gives the game a bit of strategic depth, too; if there’s a flock of onrushing bad guys coming to get you, you may think twice about grabbing the crate and show them something called a bazooka, instead.
After surviving the surprisingly intense tutorial, you’re thrown into the thick of it. You’ll start off with a relatively small range of weapons which will be greatly expanded upon as your crate-count rises, through the magic of unlockables. The weapons are remarkably balanced considering how different some of them are, although over-powered guns are in there for good fun. Some unlockable characters are also included, even if the only point of unlocking them is to laugh at their outrageous running animations. The platformer features three different stages with slightly different layouts and graphical themes; you’ll need to collect a certain amount of crates in one stage to unlock the next. Oh, and for the extreme players out there, collecting a high number of crates in one game will unlock the SFMT and ambush modes (sadly, this was too much to ask of me).
As evidence for the amount of effort put into Super Crate Box, the game has it’s own fully-fledged website. You can find all relevant information here as well as global highscores, which banks on the platformer’s addictive arcadey attributes.
Thanks to Roy Nathan de Groot and Paul Veer (who put forward their talents for the graphics and animations respectively), this game is visually superb. Whilst it won’t attract those obsessed with ‘realistic’ graphics, anybody with an eye for nice chunky pixels will be impressed. Vast effort has clearly been put into weapon effects (the flamethrower was my favourite) and they live up to the fast-paced gameplay admirably. The only thing I will criticise about Super Crate Box’s presentation is the underwhelming main menu. Other than that, the chiptune music is absolutely fantastic, capturing the theme and pace perfectly whilst complementing the retro-tastic sound effects.
To quote cactus: ‘This game is a ton of fun.’