Let’s not beat around the bush here – Alien Chaos 3D is a woeful name for a videogame. It screams “budget release!”, and conjures up visions of dodgy 505 Gamestreet PS2 games, bargain bins and DS shovelware. But if I have learned anything during my three-plus decades in this crazy, mixed up world, it is that you should never judge a book by its cover or, in this case, a game by its dumbass title.
Originally known as Clean House 3D, Ludosity’s keenly-priced shooter is a sequel to their Xbox Live Arcade indie release Mama & Son Clean House. That game was designed to be played in co-op (but could be played with one person controlling two characters for the uber hardcore) and featured a mother and son duo teaming up in a dual assault on a bunch of alien robot animals, with Mama literally cleaning up pieces of the dispatched enemies as her son goes to town with the shooters.
The sequel is a single player affair, with the storyline taking Mama out of the equation by having her abducted by aliens. Her boy now has to not only rescue his old dear, but compensate for her absence by destroying the plethora of robotic enemies and tidying up after them. Gameplay is pretty straightforward, in that you have to defeat all of the spawning enemies within small platform-y arenas sometimes just a screen or two in length, using eight way directional shooting (which can be fixed) with a variety of weapons. It plays a little bit like the recent Shoot Many Robots – but has a few features which give it the feel of a classic platformer like Rod-Land or Bubble Bobble too (honestly, stay with me here!).
When you destroy an enemy, they produce scrap and other detritus, which you can push into bin-like receptacles in the area in order to clean up your environs and earn new weapons and ammunition. Dispatching a foe will also leave a blooming great scorch mark on the background, which your cartoon John Rambo-looking protagonist will start to clean if you stop next to it. Doing this places you in a vulnerable situation but awards points and builds up a super meter – clean up enough and you get to unleash a handy smart bomb with the A button that can give you some breathing space during hectic moments. It is the combination of seeing off enemies whilst completing other tasks that reminded me of the old-school arcade games of yore, and creates a fun and frantic twitchy atmosphere.
There are five areas to conquer, with four stages and a boss in each. It won’t take you that long to get through all 25 (just over an hour for me) but the appeal comes in achieving the in-game medals that are awarded for maximising your score. There are also a series of challenge stages, which give you certain tasks to complete (such as survival), and some Streetpass functionality that allows you to challenge friends in a score attack stylee.
With graphics that do the job in a colourful if unspectacular style, and some fairly forgettable sound, this isn’t one for those expecting an aesthetic tour de force. What you do get though is an admirable score attack curiosity, which is extremely good fun in short bursts, with the tricky-to-obtain gold medals offering a real challenge.
VERDICT: There is plenty of humour from the actual premise of the game but also from some of the puns and other silliness – I particularly loved the giant robotic armadillo boss named, yep, Harmadillo. At a bargain price, this is exactly the sort of thing that works so well on the 3DS; simple, unpretentious fun with that “just one more go” score-besting factor that former arcade patrons of a certain age will identify with.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.