I was never much for arcades as a kid. Growing up with consoles made the machines seem outdated and thin in both gameplay and controls. There was however one cabinet that always caught my eye which I would feed dollar after dollar into, and that game was Raiden Fighters. It was one of the first scrolling shooters I had ever played, let alone one with such a variety of fighter craft, weapons and pickups. Assault Android Cactus takes everything that made Raiden Fighters so special to me and makes it even better.
Ask anyone who knows anything about videos games "What's the most important thing about a game?" and their answer will most likely be that it has to be fun. Assault Android Cactus has it in spades and the aforementioned multitude in weapons and power ups are just the start of it. Every character in the game has their own personality, their own primary and secondary weapons and even unique dialogue.
You could be forgiven for assuming that the developers of the game simply pulled three random words out of a hat and made that the title, but don't let the name fool you. Beneath the surface you'll find an extremely well crafted twin-stick shooter with some smart design decisions as well. The nature of a game such as this one can often lead to a very busy screen where players can't even find their own character, but that is handled very clearly through audio and visual cues.
I honestly can't say enough about this game because I was just that impressed by it. The first thing you'll notice when you start the game up is the quality of music thanks to Jeff van Dyck. If you don't recognise the name, he's just some guy credited with composing music for the original Need for Speed games, multiple Total War titles, Alien: Isolation, and more recently Australian indie games such as Submerged and Hand of Fate. That's all...
Aside from the music, this game ticks all of the other boxes too. Sound effects, lighting effects, stylistic graphics, and a good sense of humour all combine to create this incredibly polished lovechild of Geometry Wars and Mario Party mini-games.
I reviewed the game on PC but I can quite easily see it being a hit with friends playing couch co-op on consoles (as is planned in 2016). The best tip I can give to anyone reading this and wanting to introduce it to their friends is that if you're stuck on one level for whatever reason and you just can't get past it, take a break and come back later. There were several times I was beating my head against a brick wall, but with fresh eyes later on I usually passed the level on the first attempt.
97% of 600 users on Steam can't be wrong in giving Assault Android Cactus an overwhelmingly positive rating. You can grab the game through the Valve-owned service for $14.99USD and I highly recommend it.