Assault Android Cactus is the type of Game I want to cover more of. While I love RPG’s, there is no replacement for a true test of reflexes and raw Skill. Twin Stick Shooters like this one fit that description, while also being pretty manageable for newcomers to the genre without watering down the content for the sake of Accessibility.
Our Leading Lady is the Eponymous Assault Android known as Cactus, and I really love the Introduction. Being blunt, I avoided this game at first because of the NAME. I hadn’t seen anything of it but the Title in a list. If that’s any illustration of how annoyed I was with the idea of a protagonist named Cactus. But… Then I saw a bit of video and the art style on another day, and I decided to give it a go because I learned there was more than one Android and so surely not all of them could be named Cactus. Then I saw the Intro and I saw their character design of Cactus and her voice, and I was very much sold that this was an Android and that Cactus was actually a pretty fitting name for her.
We start off with a large Spacefaring Vessel in Distress named the Genki Star. Cactus is a Space Cop known for destructive tendencies, lending her to be tricky to work with. I love that they play up the notion of her being a Cowboy Cop, we learn via Supplemental materials in-game that she was transferred to her current division because their missions tended to be more “Fitting” AKA Destruction Friendly than normal Police Work.
When the Genki Star’s Automated Turrets seemingly turn hostile to her small Spacecraft, Cactus is ordered to pull back, which she doesn’t want to do because it would mean more Paperwork. So she goes on with her attempt to dock within the ship and makes an Unconventional landing (Unintentionally crushing a Hostile robot.) and is immediately greeted by the surviving Androids that work as the Ship’s Crew. These adorable Gynoids (Gynoid is the proper term for Female Androids, I’ll just call them Androids from here on) are Holly, Lemon, and Coral. And they are in resistance against a Robotic Mutiny taking place aboard the Genki Star.
The Ship is divided into four sections with each ruled over by a System Overlord, and while normally the Genki Star has an AI Core that would never allow the Robots to Mutiny, She has been offline for several days, during which time the System Overlords went haywire and started taking control of the ship. Fortunately, all Androids have internally controlled CPU’s that allow them to think independently of the Ship, which is itself interconnected on nearly every level along with the rest of the Robots onboard.
Before fully briefing Cactus on the situation, more Robots stumble upon the Androids and begin their onslaught, which handily works as your Tutorial on scrapping Robots.
Each level consists of you fighting your way through a combination of Robotic Enemy Types in each Room. Something that sets this game apart from other Twin Stick Shooters is its curious take on the concept of a Time Limit. Though functionally the same as a Timer ticking down, each Android can only maintain its High-Performance Combat mode for a limited period of time due to its extensive energy use. So to maintain the Combat Mode and keep fighting, you need to keep your battery charged. And the only way to keep your Battery filled up is by defeating enemies and Collecting their Batteries to Recharge your own. So even more so than most Twin Stick Shooters, you have to play Aggressively. And that’s actually a really engaging concept to me, it reminds me of Doom 2016.
You have a traditional Health meter, but all that happens when it depletes is you losing some of your Battery, Score, Volts/Energy Pellets and being Knocked Down Temporarily until you can Reboot yourself by pressing the Fire button a few times.
In addition to Batteries, PowerUps will fly out of enemies from time to time. These come in three flavors, Red, Yellow, Blue. And they cycle every 5 Seconds between the two in that order. They’ll start off a differing color according to the In-Game Clock, not very useful trivia unless you’re obsessed but still interesting.
Red = Firepower, Firepower gives you two Drones that will rapidly fire additional bullets alongside your own shots. This will last 12 Seconds.
Yellow = Accelerate, Accelerate will give you Pretty Wings that make you go fast for 15 Seconds. It also acts to absorb about 33% of the damage you take.
Blue = Shutdown, Shutdown will cause all Robots around you to take an itty bitty nappy wappy. Please make use of this time assuring they never wake up. Normal enemies take Double damage for their 3 Seconds, while Bosses are only stunned for 2.25 seconds and take 50% extra damage. It also heals you and gives a 4 Second window of Invulnerability. Arguably, this could be the best choice against bosses depending on your choice of Android.
Secondary Weapons & Dodging
So you’ve got a Secondary Weapon with all Androids, and while Switching to it or from it, you will briefly have an Invincibility window. This is called a Dodge, and you need to master it for higher levels of play. Proper use of the Dodge can give you options for Survival beyond simply avoiding bullets. Secondary Weapons can only be used a set amount that varies between Androids, and beyond that amount, they will need to Cool Down for a few seconds. Generally, the Secondary Weapon makes stuff go Boom or will Compliment your selected Android’s fighting Style. My favorite is the Cannonball fired by Sweet little Holly that utterly devastates most enemies short of bosses while taking a rather significant bite out of them too… And requiring a Cool Down immediately after firing. These all have a Tradeoff like that.
Codex and Lore
So as you collect Volts in the main game, you’ll earn credits that you can use for purchasing entries in the Codex filling you in on the very detailed World of Assault Android Cactus. Each and Every Enemy type has a Detailed entry, especially the adorably Dog like Fido series. There isn’t a particular need for this type of thing in normal Gameplay, but I eat this type of thing up. I’m happily unlocking the Profiles for each of my Android Childrenzzz. And I especially enjoy the backstory and character dynamics between them and their respective Bosses. (I say Bosses in the literal sense of a Boss or Direct Superior since Holly worked for/was terrorized by Embryo as he was the Section Overlord of her department. And from these Codex entries, I know now that Holly is a good friend of the very elusive and Polite Sniper Android called Shiitake because Shiitake is stationed in a Frozen section of the Ship and Holly used to go there to hide from her scary boss.
Something I also enjoyed was this section where one can unlock various Artwork bits in Assault Android Cactus Plus, as well as the Sound Test options. I dig little extra bits like this.
My favorite of the Bonus Features though is the collection of Game Altering EX features. Granted some of these Mods disable saving a High Score due to shattering Game Balance, but they’re fun! And besides that, I’ve not yet been able to recruit anybody to play Multiplayer with me. So the unlockable AI Partners Mod has helped me avoid visiting my Family for another week. Always a plus! My favorite Mods are actually the ones that just mess with the Presentation of the game such as the LSD filter and…
A Normal Sized Head option. The fact that it is here is much funnier to me than it has any right to be.
(These are included in the Base Game and so they aren’t truly Mods, but the creators call the Gynoids by the term Androids, so I get to call these Mods. Only fair!)
Fun trivia, upon my desk there is my Wax Melter beside my Coffee Cup containing the infamous Magical Beverage of Hope and Wonder known as Coffee. Upon finishing that line about Misnomers, I began to take a smug victory sip… Of wax. I don’t need to write jokes, I am one.
Final Thoughts and Verdict
For whatever reason, the Visual and Musical stylings of this game evoke memories of the N64 era for me, and especially of Bomberman 64. It’s uncanny, and my Brother actually concurred that he got the same feelings. That said, it’s a very good feeling. The appealing Character Designs and All-Female cast (And Gameplay genre of course) also evoke fond thoughts of the Touhou Project series that has captured the hearts of countless filthy Weaboo degenerates like me all across the globe.
Though I couldn’t get anybody to actually do the Multiplayer with me, I greatly enjoyed Assault Android Cactus. The Art Style and Sense of Humor to the game makes me wish to check out the Dragon Tails Webcomic that Mr. Tim Dawson created long before this game, and I feel that even with a great Soundtrack and solid Visuals, the true Appeal of Assault Android Cactus lays in its Multiple Protagonists and the Personalities that they each Possess both in terms of Gameplay and the genuinely Clever Writing. It’s a bargain at 15$, and would easily sell for 30 or 40$ if folk know the quality of the game beforehand.
Also note, I did not write this in a Vacuum. I had much help from the Wiki in the writing of this Article, as I initially missed many details in the chaotic gameplay.
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Robert Kelly Ball
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