SCB is an infuriatingly addictive game built around two core tenets. Firstly, it makes absolutely no concessions to the delicate sensibilities of modern gaming. One life, no continues, rack up as many points as you can. Secondly, it celebrates the glorious 8-bit era with chunky pixels, bright colours, and a phat chiptune soundtrack. Needless to say, we lost the better part of the weekend playing this sucker.
How does it play?
The game takes place on a single screen, with platforms arranged in a grid. From the top of the screen, a portal spits out an infinite number of enemies of varying speed and size. They work their way to the bottom of the screen, where a pit of fire waits to receive them.
Players must survive this endless horde for as long as they can. Touchscreen buttons allow you to move left and right, and to jump, but most crucially you can fire a weapon to wipe out the waves of nasties that are galloping towards you.
But here's the thing, you don't score points by taking out baddies. You score points by collecting weapon crates. And each time you collect a crate, your weapon is automatically changed. So, whilst you'd rather use a rocket launcher than a shotgun to defend yourself, to boost your score it's in your best interest to keep changing weapons.
Collect enough crates in a single round, and you can unlock extra levels and characters. Collect enough crates over the lifetime of the game, and you unlock extra weapons to enhance your play. These extra weapons are not guaranteed to make your life easier, however. Some of them have drawbacks, like recoil that involuntarily moves your character across the screen.
Why do we like it?
Super Crate Box is a simple premise that's stylishly executed and yet totally uncompromising. Players will be dying frequently, and some might complain that it's not entirely fair - the collision detection might be a fraction off, for example. Regardless, it's got a sticky quality that means you'll be playing it again and again, desperate to beat your previous high score.
There's another incentive to play the game; developer Vlambeer is harvesting player statistics and counting up the total number of crates collected around the world. When the tally hits 5 million crates, they've promised to release a major update to thank everyone who's purchased the game. We fervently hope it's a two player mode...
Super Crate Box is available now on the App Store (69p)