In this day and age it’s not often that we see many fast paced arcade shooters, let alone ones which are ridiculously addictive, impeccably polished, is from an Australian developer AND made by one person! Well, that’s exactly what Super Mutant Alien Assault (SMAA) is, and it’s one of the best arcade shooters/platformers I’ve played in recent years. As its thumping dub step soundtrack, fast paced gameplay, tight controls, distinct pixel art and over the top gore all combines to create one of my favourite indie experiences of this generation.
The story, although not the main focus, sets the scene for this challenging and polished arcade shooter, as Earth is destroyed in a swift attack from aliens three spaceship fleets manage to escape, each heading to a different galaxy searching for a new home. However the ships are being tracked and sure enough are attacked by these menacing aliens and it’s up to you, a small security droid to save the last humans. Which is all shown and narrated in the opening sequence as if from an 80s action film and its fantastic.
The visuals and pixel art of SMAA stand out immediately and catch your eye as every element from the enemies, to the weapons and backdrops of the spaceships you fight in all have unique and vibrant colour schemes which feel right at home in an arcade shooter.
It’s obvious a lot of time and thought has gone into making each component stand out visually, including the level boundaries, vending machines, weapon crates and enemies too. The designs and art for each of the enemies are quite demonic, incredibly unique and are a joy to look at while blowing them to bits throughout each stage. But it’s the visual effects, such as explosions from bombs and missiles or the guts and blood exploding out of enemies which really take the cake, and make SMAA a visual pleasure. All the while running incredibly smoothly on console with no visual bugs popping up in my time playing and thankfully no frame rate issues either.