It doesn’t take much time to determine whether a game is good or garbage. Especially on touchscreen mobile smartphone platforms. If a game doesn’t hook me within the first five minutes of play, odds are it’s not going to last very long on my device. That’s the idea behind “Five-Minute First Impressions,” a new segment dedicated to the analysis of those crucial early moments that come after launching a gaming app for the first time.
This brings us to to Super Crate Box. Released Jan. 5 on the iTunes App Store, Super Crate Box is an arcade platform shooter revival game that pays tribute to the era in gaming where the only thing that mattered was the high score at the end of the game. Five minutes in and I have the feeling this might be my new Angry Birds.
Super Crate Box is a dead simple game Your goal? To collect as many wooden crates as possible without dying. It’s a simple premise with a steep challenge.
The first thing I did upon starting a new game was die.
Super Crate Box is simple enough in premise. And its tight control scheme — featuring a button to move left, a button to move right, a fire button and a jump button — is refreshingly not the problem. The challenge lies in the constant barrage of enemies dropping from the sky and running down the various levels of platforms with the single goal of ruining your crate collector’s day. One touch from a baddie equals game over. But that doesn’t mean the player is jumping around helplessly.
To assist the main character on his mission is an ever-growing arsenal of firearms. Collect a crate, get a new gun. Starting off with simply a pistol (and an ineffective one at that), the main character progresses to use things like landmines, a rocket launcher, machine gun or a revolver. And the more crates you collect, the more weapons that become unlocked for future play. Every weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the player does not choose which weapon he receives upon collecting a new crate. This adds a dimension to the game, wherein you can choose to build your score through collecting crates or through shooting bad guys. It leads to a good balance and keeps you guessing through the first few minutes of play as to what exactly is going to happen next.
I have to confess: I played Super Crate Box for exactly five minutes after downloading it from the iTunes store. Then, later, I came back to it. After that session I returned again. Each time I discovered a new nuance to the game or got a little bit higher a score. Simply, Super Crate Box is addictive. And, like my current handheld gaming obsession, Cave Story 3D, the game is proof in action that simple, classic gaming still has a place among the more sophisticated style of gaming experiences out there today.