Apache Overkill Review – Lots of Fun, For A While
Apache Overkill from Playerthree was one of the first announced Minis, part of the 50 titles supposedly due out by the end of 2009. Almost a year later, it’s finally been released, though one has to wonder just what took so long, because it’s a fairly simple game.
While simple, the game is quite fun. It’s a horizontal scrolling shooter where you, as you might expect from the name, control an Apache helicopter and kill a whole lot of enemies. While we’ve seen a lot of these horizontal shooters lately (okay, two, Flying Hamster and Ace Armstrong), it’s different in feel from the others.
For one, you have a health bar, rather than dying instantly when struck by an enemy attack. You can take a fair amount of abuse, and you get multiple lives to start with (there are also health and extra life power-ups). And rather than making precise shots, you’re essentially holding down the button and mowing down everything in front of you.
You start off with the trusty chaingun, but you can pick powerups to add rockets, missiles, bombs, laser and even a tactical nuke. Because you are piloting a helicopter, your nose dips up and down, thus affecting your aim on some of these—the chaingun and laser. The missiles and rockets shoot straight and the bombs fall down like, er, bombs. The animation for the nuke is funny; it’s like you throw a little suitcase out the window.
The game says there are 99 levels, but they aren’t levels in the sense that there are fixed structures you travel over (or into). Basically just four different terrains: Desert, Arctic, River, and Savannah that repeat in cycles.
Each level does have a certain progression, though. You fight through waves of enemies which can be jet fighters, other helicopters, hovering rocket platforms. The ground enemies vary depending on the terrain, most of the them having ground vehicles, but the River level having boats, appropriately enough.
About halfway through a level, you fight a boss, either a giant plane or airship. This seems to be somewhat optional; if you don’t kill it, it flies away eventually. And inevitably, there is another boss battle at the very end of the level. This always seems to be another helicopter gunship. Early on he’s quite easy to beat, as his main tactic is ramming. But eventually he has the same arsenal you do, including the very nasty laser beam.
Once you beat a level, you get healed and are given the stats for that level. Accuracy of each weapon type, score and so forth. As to the difficulty, well, on my first try, I reached level 3. On subsequent tries, I did a lot better. What I also liked is that the high score tables are very low, your score is very high, and you get assigned a military rank. There is nothing I hate more than playing a game and not doing well enough to get on the high score table. Especially as they are never real scores, but just ones inserted as placeholders.
On the downside, you apparently always have to start at level 1, and there are no difficulty levels. So you’d not only have to be fairly skilled to get through ninety-nine levels, you’d have to be extremely patient as there is no in-game save function.
For a small Mini (only 5 MB) the graphics are nice (much better than the stills represent because it moves fast), and there is even speech, presumably your co-pilot commenting. This speech gets to be a little repetitive, but not enough to drive you crazy.
I experienced some technical problems with the game on my PSP, a silver 3001 model with the latest official firmware and a 16 GB Sandisk Memory Stick. Basically the game would work properly the first time I ran it, but later times I would be unable to quit, nor could I put the PSP in sleep mode. The problem seems to be related to the save game file (for the high scores table), as if I delete that, it then works okay the next time I run it. I found I also could avoid the problem by simply choosing not to create a save game file (for the high scores table).
I found this game to be a lot of fun in short bursts. That however is also its main drawback—it’s really only fun in short bursts, because it’s simply the same thing over and over. After four or five levels, you’ll want to quit and play something else. This is where a save game feature (to save game progress) would have really come in handy; otherwise you’ll be starting over every time.
It’s also where a difficulty or level select would have come in handy, as the first few levels are pretty easy. Considering I couldn’t make it more than a minute into Ace Armstrong, people who are good at that game will find the first levels of this a breeze.
Still, overall I think this is a great title if you have a few minutes to kill and want to kill more than just time. I’ll be buying it myself when it is released in North America.
Score: 6.5/10 (Assuming the technical difficulties I had aren’t widespread, which they don’t seem to be)