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Super Crate Box (PC)



I will be honest; Iím not a big fan of the Mario Bros. Arcade game (which is featured as a mini-game in Super Mario Bros. 3). I donít know why, but I donít find the gameplay very interesting. This is why I was sceptical about Super Crate Boxís fun potential when I first approached it. The truth is that developer Vlambeer has created an incredibly addicting game.

Super Crate Box is an 2D arena game that is strongly inspired by Mario Bros. Arcade. Enemies fall from the top floor and make their way to the bottom of the level. The character has to dodge these enemies by jumping over them and using the level layout to its advantage. Super Crate Box adds its own twist to the formula by adding weapons and weapon crates to the mix. Instead of jumping on the enemies, you must use the diverse weapons available in the game to eliminate the bad guys. In fact, you canít touch the enemies at all in this game (which results in a Game Over screen).

Unlike Mario Bros. Arcade, the player does not earn points by defeating enemies but by collecting weapon crates. In addition to earning one point, the player receives a new weapon for each crate collected. Weapons cannot be changed so the mastery of every weapon for every possible situation is crucial. For example, using a Katana is only effective at short range while using a bazooka is a lot more effective on long range attacks. The variety of the weapons is also pretty good, ranging from pistols to shotgun and from mines to laser guns.

Killing enemies doesnít go unrewarded though. For each enemy that falls in the fire at the bottom of the level, a faster (red) enemy will spawn (making things more complicated for the player). Since the player automatically dies when he/she touches an enemy, clearing all enemies from the level is really important. The less monsters are on screen, the easier the player will be able to move around and collect crates (and earn points).

The game comes with three different levels that each have their unique layout and look. As you would have probably expected the difficulty increases from one level to the next, giving less spots to hide and less time to prepare for the enemiesí arrival.

To keep the game fresh, Super Crate Box uses a nice unlockables system. First, you unlock weapons for specific numbers of cumulative crates collected (trying out each new weapon you unlock is a lot of fun). Then, you unlock each of the gameís next level by earning a certain number of crates in a single run on a level (which ensures that you learn from your mistakes and try to get the highest score you can on every level). Finally, different modes are unlockable for each of the gameís level. To obtain them, you must reach quite a high score of each of the level, which is rather difficult. Iíve played the game for about 4-5 hours so far and I have only unlocked one bonus game mode for the first level (and none for the two other levels). Unlocking bonus modes will definitely challenge even the most expert Super Crate Boxís players.

Unfortunately, the game suffers from its strengths. The randomness of the weapons, of the crates spawn locations and of the enemiesí spawns is so different from one game to another that your best run might happen mostly because all the stars were aligned when youíve done it. You can do really good on a run and suddenly die because a bunch of enemies decided to spawn and you only had a bad weapon to fight they in that specific situation. This makes things very frustrating when you know you were doing really well. Also, the high difficulty aspect of the game might scare some players off (but since casual gamers are not the primary audience of this game, this is not a big issue).

Super Crate Box is a really addicting game that is perfect for short gaming sessions. There is so much depth in this simple-looking game that you will probably find yourself playing it for hours without even noticing that time is passing by (I literally forgot about supper when I played it). Be warned that you might want to take it easy while playing this game if you are the type of person who rage quits frequently. Other than this, you should definitely try Super Crate Box out.

Super Crate Box is available on the PC for free at http://www.supercratebox.com/.

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Positives:
- The 8-bit art style
- Very addicting gameplay
- The variety of weapons is great
- Lots of unlockables will make you come back for more
- The game is available for free

Negatives:
- The randomness makes things frustrating on many occasions
- The difficulty of the game might scare some players


Gameplay: 8
Visuals: 8
Audio: 7.5
Lasting appeal: 8.5
Innovation: 7.5

Final Score: 8




Game experience at time of redaction: All levels cleared on Normal, 68% of the unlockables obtained, SFMT mode unlocked for Level 1
Redacted on: March 11th 2011
Uploaded on: March 11th 2011