September 8, 2011 4 Comments
Chain Crusher received a Second Chance with the Chick. Click here to read it.
Chain Crusher is the second game I’ve played as the Indie Gamer Chick that cost the almost-certain-to-be-fatal-towards-sales 400 Microsoft Points. The first was Antipole, a game that I’m obviously fond of, as evidenced by its placement on my top 10 list. But where Antipole was a deep and rewarding action game, Chain Crusher is a very retro-flavored arcade space shooter. The price point was startling to me, but maybe the game play justified it. And maybe I’m next in line to be a Real Housewife of Beverly Hills.
Chain Crusher is all about the high score. There’s no levels in the traditional sense. Instead, enemies come at you in small waves. Every twenty waves, you have to fight a boss that looks more like a bubble-level that you use in construction. The gimmick here is that when you shoot an enemy, it explodes with a small blast radius that also blows up any other enemies that pass by it. Using this, you try to build up combos and achieve a high score.
A really interesting design choice was the decision to make the waves come out randomly. Unlike some shooters, the enemies don’t come out in recognizable patterns. I don’t necessarily believe this is a good thing, because it often renders a really great combo as being done completely by chance, with skill not factoring in at all. While I did have fun trying to beat my previous high combo, no strategy I took seemed to be as effective as blind luck. On one hand, this would level the play field. On the other hand, since there’s no online leader boards there is no play field to begin with.
Randomness aside, the game design is fairly sound. Enemies really aren’t there to provide you with a challenge. I played about a dozen rounds of Chain Crusher and never once died because of an active enemy. Instead, the ship’s recoil proved to be my chief adversary. Whenever you fire the gun, your ship backs up slightly. If you touch the back of the screen, you die. Any enemy ships you miss also get glued to the back wall, and if you touch them, you also die. Sometimes you can use the bosses to help clear the debris off the back wall, but for the most part it’s best to try to take out as many enemies as you can.
I actually have to break my personal rule for Indie Gamer Chick that states the only criteria in recommending a game is whether or not I had fun. I did have fun playing Chain Crusher. But at $5 I can’t say it’s worth the cost. There’s only one game play mode and it doesn’t provide a lot of meat on it’s bones. The game play can be engaging, but the randomness of it negates any skill you acquire through it. Saying you’re skilled at Chain Crusher is as silly as saying you’re a skilled Bingo player.
Most damning of all is this is a game that centers around high scores but offers no online leader boards at all. This is absolutely inexcusable, especially when they’re charging you $5. I don’t even think I could have been easier on this at 240MSP. Chain Crusher feels like a mini-game, and at just over 15MBs it has the weight of one as well. Why oh why did they give this the price tag they did? At 80MSP, this would have gotten a very hearty recommendation from me and maybe even been a contender for the Top-10. Instead, I have to regretfully encourage players to spend their points elsewhere. You can do so much more with 400 Microsoft Points, including getting full-fledged Arcade titles with all the bells and whistles. I know my reviews are usually a lot more carefree and jokey, but I just couldn’t get in the mood when talking about Chain Crusher. I did have fun with it, but not 400MSP fun. It’s a crying shame that because of this horrible pricing choice it will be left collecting virtual dust.
400 Microsoft Points are likely the only 400 Microsoft Points ever used to purchase this game in the making of this review.