Review: Alien Chaos 3D (3DS eShop)

Clean shooting

Alien Chaos 3D may be one of the eShop's cheaper titles, but it's fair to say that it's absolutely stuffed full of action. Developed by Ludosity, this 2D shooter has a fairly simple premise which is boosted by some fun and inventive gameplay features. The end result is a game that's surprisingly inventive, chaotically fun and rather addictive.

Alien Chaos 3D has clearly been developed with action in mind, and it's the intense, combat-heavy gameplay that really draws you in. You play as Really Shooter, a guy who wouldn't look out of place in a Metal Slug game. Together with his mother, Mama, he runs a cleaning and demolition company. One day, alien animal robots attack and abduct Mama, and it's up to you to get her back by destroying every single enemy that crosses your path. It's completely daft, but the fact that the game doesn't take itself seriously actually makes it seem more endearing.

The gameplay is simple, yet frantic. Each stage is a small 2D arena, in which numerous portals appear and spawn enemies. Your goal is to simply survive the onslaught and make it to the next stage. It's worth pointing out that although Alien Chaos 3D isn't going to win any awards for its run-of-the-mill visuals, there are usually always a ton of enemies on-screen at the same time — with no noticeable slowdown. As the game's title suggests, it's quite chaotic at times.

Weapons are — understandably — quite important when it comes to the daunting task of fighting off dozens of evil robots, and this is where the whole cleaning business back-story serves a purpose. As you destroy enemies, scrap metal and bullet shells start to build up into piles on the floor. You can then push this scrap into a recycling bank, which are usually present at the side of the stage. Collecting enough scrap will make different weapon ammo appear (depending on the recycling bank), ranging from standard machine gun bullets to mini-gun rounds and rockets. It's a neat little upgrade system that can be challenging to use when the screen is filled with enemies. The good thing is that the power-ups don't give you too much of an advantage, meaning that skill is very much required.

In addition to recycling, you can charge up Really Shooter's Supermeter attack by cleaning walls. Yes, you read that right — this guy increases his power by wiping down the walls where he's left a mark (these appear when an enemy is destroyed). The area attack gained from this is vital later on in the game when things really get hectic, and constantly trying to make sure you're cleaning up as you go along is surprisingly fun.

More often than not, you find yourself swamped by enemies over the duration if a stage, to the point where there's simply little to no room left. It's in these instances where a neat little feature comes in handy. When you're hit, you fall to the floor, but as you get up any enemies in the close vicinity are automatically destroyed, thus giving you a chance to stand your ground again. The difference here is that you lose out on scoring points, but it's a fair trade-off and one that lessens the player's frustration whilst being overwhelmed.

The controls are simple enough, with the game playing very much like a classic 2D shooter. Really Shooter can aim in eight different directions, and by pressing the L or R button, you can specifically enter aim mode. In this state you are still only aim to shoot in the same number of directions but you stay rooted to the spot. In a way, this seems like a bit of missed opportunity, as the 3DS' circle pad could have allowed for near 360 control. Nevertheless, it does mean that the game is still fully playable with the D-Pad, and at least it adds to the overall challenge.

Challenge Mode offers a few more gameplay variants that can't be found in the Story Mode, with the most entertaining being Endless Disagreement. Here, you must survive a never-ending onslaught of enemies with only one piece of health. It's kind of like Alien Chaos 3D's take on Contra and it's incredible how hard this mode really is. In particular, you have to be really mindful of your ammo at all times, as a result of the recycling system.

It's a real shame that there isn't a multiplayer mode on offer here; having a second player to help you survive could have opened the door for some interesting strategies. The game takes advantage of StreetPass, allowing players to share high score data with one another — which is better than nothing — but it still would have been nice to compete in real time. When you take into account that the main game isn't that long and that there are only a handful of Challenge Mode scenarios on offer, Alien Chaos 3D is a title that feels like it's over before it has even started.

Conclusion

If you're after a quick and action-packed experience on your 3DS then Alien Chaos 3D is a good low-cost choice. The fast and chaotic gameplay is fun and challenging throughout thanks to the numerous enemies on screen at the same time. Moreover, the unique cleaning features add a wacky — but worthwhile — element to the game. Unfortunately, the game's limited modes and the absence of multiplayer result in an experience that is lacking in replay value. Nevertheless, it's a valiant effort from Ludosity and well worth your money if you're looking for a solid pick-up-and-play title to indulge in every now and again.

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