Akka Arrh Remastered (Review) Nintendo Switch

Akka Arrh Remastered (Review) Nintendo Switch
Review Score:

Developer Jeff Minter of Llamasoft is known for his original, quirky games, including the arcade smash hit, Tempest. Akka Arrh was a canceled, lost game from Jeff Minter’s long repertoire of releases from Atari, that has recently been remastered for modern console systems (including the Atari VCS).

The Nintendo Switch version is no different than the other versions currently available on different platforms. While we haven’t played the Atari VCS version, we can summarize that it more than likely includes additional features that cater to the system.

Gameplay is very basic — the player’s ship is located in the middle of the screen surrounded by fractals. The ship cannot fly around like most shooters, but it can spin 360 degrees to attack. The enemies themselves attack in waves from different directions (think Missile Command with Tower Defense mechanics here), and the player uses a standard gun and bombs to dispatch the ET nuisances that fill the playfield.

The idea here is to use your bombs first on the enemy ships, since killing each enemy will increase the number of bullets the player’s ship has. That’s right; the player’s ship has a limited amount of bullets, which is an oddly strange concept. So remember, killing those enemies is the only way to stock up on ammo.

The game’s difficulty ramps up in later levels by moving to the bottom level, where the player’s life is located and represented by 16 rotating pods. By going to the lower level to defend your life, you also have to keep in mind the enemies that are attacking the top layer. This is where the game’s strategy comes into play, where the player has to switch between the layers to fend off the attacking enemy ships. This isn’t as easy as it sounds and it requires a lot of strategy for the player to survive.

Shooting multiple bombs will kill countless enemies in a wide radius, starting a combo hit meter that can only be maintained by shooting more bombs. Since the ship’s gun ammo is limited (as mentioned earlier), there is no way to use it to keep the kill combo meter going. This unfortunately lends to the game’s difficulty.

Strategies that work in one level don’t work in others. It can be frustrating when this happens, because each stage feels like a new game rather than a new level. It’s not uncommon for the player to feel like they’re losing control of the game in these later levels, all thanks to the  unbalanced, teeth-gnashing difficulty.

With that said, Akka Arrh isn’t a bad game; it just changes the concept of shooters. Everything that has been established in the shooting genre doesn’t apply here. In fact, the game is so different that it should be placed in an entirely new category. Maybe a Tower Defense Shooter would suffice? Gamers looking for an oddly unique experience should check out Akka Arrh; fans of the shoot ‘em up genre, however, will be disappointed by how stiff the mechanics are. The inability to move your ship at all is also another issue that haunts this game. Maybe Atari was right when they canned this project back in the day? 

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Jeff Minter / Llamasoft
Publisher: Atari
ESRB: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
Price: $19.99

Website: https://www.nintendo.com/store/products/akka-arrh-switch/

Review Score
Psychedelic graphics are the order of the day.
Impressive music and sound effects.
Challenging, fun and sometimes fustrating.
Akka Arrh Remastered isn't everyone's cup of tea, but there's enough enjoyment to keep the game interesting.
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