Super Crate Box Review

Title: Super Crate Box
Developer: Vlambeer
Game Type: PlayStation Mobile
Download:  5 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download, Direct Download
EU Availability: Currently Unavailable

When you think of the Mobile market, odds are that you don’t always think about game consoles, but rather phones and tablets.  This is because that is where the majority of Mobile games are located.  While there have been some popular Mobile games ported to consoles, like Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies, the majority of the Mobile market is still on, well, Mobile devices.  This is, with the exception of PlayStation Mobile for PS Vita.

PlayStation Mobile, I feel, has never really caught a lot of traction for as long as it has been available.  For PlayStation Vita owners, PS Mobile is a means by which gamers can buy, download, and play Mobile games with the physical controls of the Vita.   Some games on this platform are exclusive to PlayStation Mobile, while others are ports of games on other platforms, such as iOS and Android.

With the Holiday Season right here and upon us, Sony has been kind enough to give away some of their PlayStation Mobile games.  The first PS Mobile game we reviewed, Gun Commando, was part of this kindness.  For the Holidays, it was Free on the PlayStation Store, along with several other titles.  I enjoyed that game, and there are other PS Mobile games that are enjoyable to play.  Today’s review will be on one of those games.  Here is our coverage of the PlayStation Mobile title, Super Crate Box.

Story


It’s hard to review the story of this game because there really isn’t a story to tell.  The main premise of the game, if there is one, is that you’re a character on these platforms whose sole purpose in life is to collect crates that contain weapons and rid the world of all of the monsters coming to attack him.  This is a synopsis based off of what happens during gameplay.  As I said before, there is no real plot to this game.

Story is definitely a minor part of this game.  This is like a game from the classic eras where there is no story and you just play the game.  There’s no story to be told, and everything is up to your own imagination as you play the game.

Gameplay

This is where pretty much the entire game lies.  Super Crate Box isn’t about an immersive story.  It is about getting into the gameplay and enjoying the game for what it is.  While the gameplay isn’t incredibly deep, it is fun and get very addicting very quickly.  Fortunately for gamers, the addictive gameplay doesn’t come packed with Microtransactions, like games like Candy Crush Saga.

The game pits you in a 2D arena with various platforms that look strikingly similar to what levels looked like in the original Mario Bros. game.  Note that I am not talking about Super Mario Bros.  I am talking about the normal Mario Bros, where you were running around and fighting enemies on a few platforms.  The entire time I played the game, it partially felt like I was playing that game, but with different characters and enemies thrown into the mix.

Gameplay consists of running and jumping from platform to platform, in seek of small crates and boxes that spawn around the stage.  As you look for these boxes, though, there are two things to watch out for.  First of all, there are enemies spawning from the top of the map that instantly kill you if you touch them or they touch you.  These enemies come in three varieties.  There are small ones the size of your character and larger enemies that run across the platforms.  There are also small enemies that fly around the stage.  Another is a large Fire Pit at the bottom of the stage, which also instantly kills you when touched.

The Fire Pit can be jumped over, but the enemies are a little harder to deal with.  You see, each enemy will eventually make it down to the Fire Pit.  When they drop into it, they do not die.  They respawn at the top of the stage again, but are colored red, and run extremely fast, making it very hard to time your jumps and dodges.  With only 1 HP in the game, your need to keep them from falling into that fire pit.

This is where the crates and boxes come in.  Whenever you collect a crate or box, you are given a random weapon that can be used to fight and defeat enemies.  These weapons vary in size and variety.  There are pistols, dual pistols, revolvers, rocket launchers, mines, shotguns, and more.  The catch is that your weapon is randomized every time you grab a crate or box.  You have no idea what you’re going to be using after the next crate or box, and you cannot choose to keep the weapon you already have.


This is bad in the effect that not all of the weapons are good for you.  There are some that you can use and accidentally get a Game Over by getting hit by a shot from your own weapon.  To give a couple examples of these weapons, the Disc Gun fires a disc that slices up anything it touches and ricochets off the walls, so if you don’t jump when it comes back, you just knocked yourself out of the game.  Also, the Flame Thrower creates a wall of fire on the floor that kills enemies, but also you if you touch it before the fires are gone.

So, as you spawn into a new stage, your goal is to juggle the tasks of collecting crates, staying alive, and knocking off enemies fast enough to prevent any of them from falling into the Fire Pit and respawning in their Red form.  It can be a big challenge, even after you get used to the system and I found myself constantly retrying stages to see how high of a score I could acquire.

Getting high scores is a key element of progressing in the game.  Unlockables come in various varieties.  You can unlock Stages, Weapons, Characters, and Game Modes.  Weapons are the easiest to unlock.  Each weapon unlocks when you have collected a total amount of crates and boxes.  For example, if a weapon requires 50 crates to unlock, you could potentially collect 5 crates and get a Game Over, and the same thing happen after 10, 20, and 5 in three other games, and the weapon will unlock.  That is your overall total crates.


Everything else is different.  Characters and Game Modes are unlocked once you get a certain amount (or more) of crates in a single game session.  For example, the first unlockable character unlocks when you have collected 25 crates on the first level.  The two Game Modes, which allow more enemies to be spawned as more crates are collected, and for enemies to spawn anywhere on the stage, as opposed to just the top, are unlocked in the same manner.  They require a set number of crates to be collected in a single game on a specific type of Game Mode.

There are a few different Stages to play on, as well as the characters and Game Modes to unlock.  Depending on how fast you can become accustomed to the style of the game, it can take you anywhere from a single hour to several hours to play through and unlock everything in the game.  It’s great for small bursts, though I couldn’t imagine sitting and playing the game for several hours at a time.

Controls

The controls for Super Crate Box, which can also be said about Mobile games in general, are not very complex.  You will barely use a few of the buttons available on the Vita as you play through the game.  You also don’t need the touchscreen for anything, and I suggest you don’t, as the fast-paced gameplay is much better suited to physical buttons.

You can use the D-Pad or Left Analog Stick to move your character left and right throughout the stages.  You will only be using the Left and Right buttons, as the Up and Down Buttons don’t do anything.  The X Button is used to jump and is used in different ways.  If you barely press the X Button, your character will jump slightly.  If you hold it down, however, they will perform a much higher jump.  Finally, the Square and Circle Buttons are used for firing your weapon.

This sounds very simple and basic and it is.  That is about all there is to the controls of this game.

Presentation

There is one phrase I can say that can completely describe the presentation of this game, including the audio and the visuals used:  Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).  The whole game gives off a retro NES feel to it.  Not only does it look like a stage taken straight out of the original Mario Bros arcade game, but it is tied with 8-bit music throughout the game.  Every music from every stage sounds and feels like it was taken straight from the 8-bit era of gaming.

Visually, it also looks like this.  While the colors are vibrant, you can see pixels around everything.  The developers clearly had the NES in mind when they were designing this game.  You could play this, not knowing, and imagine this originally being on the NES, back in the 1980s.  While this is good for a retro feel, it also makes the game look dated to those who did not grow up in the NES era.

Overall

All in all, Super Crate Box is best played in short bursts and has a very simple gameplay scheme.  It plays well and provides a good challenge for those looking for something simple and casual to play on the train or at the doctor’s office, but lacks the depth of games that other games for the Vita have.  It is definitely a fun, neat experience, and that is where it ends.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network rates Super Crate Box a 6.5/10

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