Super Crate Box PC Review

August 31, 2012

/ by Tin Salamunic

Developer(s): Vlambeer, Phlogiston (Music), Paul Veer (Animations)
Producer(s): Vlambeer
Platform(s): PC, Steam, Mac OSX, iPad, and iPhone
Release Date: October 22nd, 2010

A lot can be said with a name. For example, Vlambeer’s Super Crate Box says “blunt, ridiculous, fun” and it means it. Like everything Vlambeer has put out before, Super Crate Box is an ode to the days of arcades past. Your main goal is to accrue as many crates as possible and attempt a place of honor on the official Super Crate Box website. True to old school fashion, that is going to be much more difficult than it seems.

After breezing through the tutorial, you begin the game with a single option: the first level, on normal mode. The level is a single screen of floating red scaffolding rendered in two gorgeous dimensions. I felt immediately at home as the retro tunes kicked in and the first crate appeared from thin air, near the top of the level. I was ready. The tutorial had prepared me for this.

In my hubris I let the first enemy touch me and I died. Because that’s all you get in Super Crate Box. There are no health points or hearts. If even one enemy touches you, you’re dead and you start from the beginning, your score totaled and reset to zero. I was suddenly aware of just how incredibly hectic this game could become.

This time, the first crate appeared near the bottom of the screen and I happily collected it without incident. At first you are going to need to collect some crates to unlock your first weapon, but once you have, every crate that you pick up will swap your current weapon out with a random weapon from your unlocked arsenal. You begin every match with a pistol and any sane person is going to replace that abysmal peashooter as soon as possible. Hopefully with a bazooka.

Weapons in Super Crate Box range from your wimpy pistol to the all-zapping ray gun, bringer of destruction. The real strategy in Super Crate Box begins with just how different each gun is. While the machine gun is a straight shooting rapid-fire affair that will push your character back a bit, the mini gun will flat out pin your character to the wall, spraying everything in front of you with a cone of bullets. No weapon in Super Crate Box feels redundant and coupled with their random acquisition, you’re going to want to learn to love them all if you dare hope to keep the constant funnel of enemies at bay.

Starting as soon as the game does, enemies will fall from a hole in the ceiling, dropping down the layers of floating platforms towards a pit of fire at the bottom of the level. While at first it might seem ideal to simply dodge your enemies and gather crates as they make their suicidal dash into the burning abyss, but unfortunately that is no ordinary flame they're running to.

Enemies who fall into the fire are reborn at the top of the level, only this time they are a vibrant red, incredibly angry, and moving much faster than before. The only way to keep enemies from cycling through the level on a rampage is to take them out. The idea is to shoot them before they reach the fire, but killing an enraged enemy will still put them out of the equation for good. This is where the next layer of strategy is introduced to Super Crate Box: thinning the herd. If you aren’t killing enemies while you try to grab as many crates as possible, they are going to become enraged and begin to pile up, filling your screen with a storm of one-hit-kill machines.

And there you have the hectic arcade frenzy that is Super Crate Box. Dodge and kill enemy assailants while trying to collect as many crates as possible to earn a prestigious spot on the fabled High Score board. The game is fast-paced, gorgeous in that retro sort of way, and addictive like only a good arcade title can be. There are ten characters to unlock and play as, thirteen weapons to wreak havoc with, and three levels with three distinct difficulty modes to enjoy.

The game can be played for free on Steam and PC, direct from the Super Crate Box website, as well as on Mac OSX, iPad, and iPhone with talk of the game coming to PlayStation Vita and PlayStation certified cell phones. I reviewed the game on Steam and was able to plug-in and play with my PC controller, which I was thankful for. This is not a game you’re going to want to be playing on a keyboard.

Review by Jeff Ellis

Final Score “Crates...must collect more crates” 7.0
Really beautifully rendered and animated sprites. There’s a fine line between simple and boring and Super Crate Box’s animator Paul Veer did an excellent job of bringing a lot of excitement to such a simple style. It’s always nice when every aspect of a game, from the menus and characters, to the animations and effects all work towards the same vision and the graphics in Super Crate Box’s do just that.
Arcade madness that’s hard to put down. I loved the rhythm that the game created by having your weapon switch out for every point you earn. Coupled with the ever-encroaching enemy waves and the danger of letting them reach the bottom, I was never bored.
Super Crate Box has that addictive arcade gameplay that will keep you stuck to it for days as you try to beat your previous best score and it won’t cost you a single quarter!
Similar to the graphics, the sound in Super Crate Box brings to life that old school arcade vibe that is so crucial to nailing the proper theme. While I enjoyed the soundtrack to the game, as well as the sound effects, I felt that there could have been more depth to it all. There are some amazing things going on in the chiptune world right now and it would have been nice to see some of that coming through in Super Crate Box’s audio.

Are any of you racking up a High Score in Super Crate Box right now? Let us see your highest score in the comments section below!

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  1. Looks fun. I'm digging the Donkey Kong style levels.

  2. I played this on the iPad, really liked it.

  3. Now I just need to get a gamepad for this. :)


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