Petite Games really are the masters of game dev recycling. I mean that as a complement. A few years ago they transformed a procedurally generated platformer, 36 Fragments of Midnight, a game I described as “thoroughly uninteresting”, into a “surprisingly enjoyable” 2D golf game called Midnight Deluxe. It was a fantastic transformation. Now, they’ve done it again with Super Destronaut DX, a Space Invaders game, taking the villains and building them into a retro themed FPS called Super Destronaut: Land Wars.
Super Destronaut: Land Wars has all the staples of a 90’s styled FPS game. It’s low res with a dubstep soundtrack, pointy angles everywhere and flat weapon sounds. The only unique aspect here is that it looks like Tron had a baby with a christmas tree. Outlined wire frames in garish hues make up the environment, mostly blocks of walls but in some of the maps, there’s trees and small pieces of scenery. It’s an eye catching art style that, combined with the soundtrack, makes for a heady and interesting feel.
Compared to the art style, the rest of Super Destronaut: Land Wars is a bare bones mechanical experience. There’s only a handful of arena’s to do battle in and all of them are basically a square path with some points of interest that keep you from getting lost in its repetitive corridors. There’s 5 weapons to unlock and use but the starter assault rifle is just as useful as the final and most expensive rocket launcher. Occasionally, and seemingly at random, you’ll equip 2 weapons and a Rampage will begin. As fun as that is, there’s no rhyme or rhythm to when they come so it’s hard to utilise them properly. There’s no look down sight option. The player can jump, but there’s absolutely no verticality to the levels in the game, making the feature almost useless.
In the original Super Destronaut game, the Space Invaders-esque enemies flew into the top of the screen and you blast them from there – but here, they spawn in groups around a small map and then hop around the level firing projectiles in your direction. The models themselves are identical to those found in its predecessor which makes for some impressive recycling because they don’t seem out of place here.
On the surface, it looks as though there’s quite a lot of content in Super Destronaut: Land Wars. A Challenge mode, made up of tonnes of individual tests, A basic arcade, a hardcore more (basically a more difficult arcade mode), slug mode that removes the player jump and a hand full others.
Unfortunately, within an hour of play, you see that all of this content is skin deep only. Take the challenge mode. Each of these challenges has a criteria – Kill X enemies, Collect Y Coins, Buy Z weapon from the in-game shop. Survive a certain amount of time. Boiled down into their component parts, they are all just about shooting things. Kill X enemies. Obviously, by shooting them. Collect Y coins…by shooting the aliens and picking up the coins they leave behind. Buy Z weapon…by shooting enemies, picking up the coins they leave behind then spending them at the weapon shop. Survive…by shooting things. There’s an admirable amount of smoke and mirrors here to make it appear that Super Destronaut: Land Wars has any depth when this game is a real one trick pony with levels that last just a few moments each.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a budget game like this. Super Destronaut: Land Wars costs a few quid on the PS4 and there’s enough variety and a few hours of longevity to justify that price. This is a slight improvement on Petite Games’ last FPS outing Bouncy Bullets, at least in terms of concept and execution, at least.
The re-invention of Super Destronaut as a retro inspired FPS doesn’t work quite as well as it did for the redesign of Fragments of Midnight. Still, Petite Games have managed to expand a clone of Space Invaders into an IP that now has entries into multiple genres. There’s a cool art style here, with a pumping soundtrack that’ll have you tapping your foot until you get bored of everything else this game lacks. It’s that lack of content that hampers Super Destronaut: Land Wars in the long run, with all manner of goals unconvincingly re-badged as more than just “shoot things” which just won’t keep you entertained for long.
Oh and, it’s a Ratalaika game so of course there’s an easy Platinum trophy.
Super Destronaut: Land Wars is available now on PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Pc and PSVita.
Developer: Petite Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we purchased a copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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