PAX East Boston Indie Showcase Preview: ‘Super Crate Box’

The second game I picked up from PAX East’s collection of indie games, known as the Boston Indie Showcase, was the survival shooter platformer known as Super Crate Box.

Super Crate Box brings classic arcade gameplay back to your iPhone and PC with its retro art style, chiptune soundtrack, and basic mechanics. Your mission is simple: navigate your way across, up, down, and around some platforms (and a fire pit!) to collect crates filled with goodies that are essential to your survival. Collecting crates not only unlocks new weaponry, including a grenade launcher, land mines, and dual pistols, but new level maps as well. But getting these crates isn’t easy. There’s swarms of enemies to navigate around, and sometimes your weapons just won’t be enough.

This game infuriates me. And not because it’s bad, it’s actually really fun. It’s just hard. I did some quick research, and other players have had similar problems. What’s different about Super Crate Box is that you can’t kill enemies by just jumping on their heads. This familiar mechanic extends back, for most of us, to our earliest childhoods, smashing goombas and other critter enemies in games like Sonic or Mario.

Eliminating this is like getting rid of a jump button- it’s unfamilar and hard to get used to, which for me has resulted in many of my deaths in Super Crate Box. Several updates to the game have also adjusted the controls to try and make the game a bit easier, but there’s still a larger than usual hit box around the enemies, so you may think you’ve cleared your way around a swarm of bad guys, but you’ll die anyway.

Despite the frustration factor, Super Crate Box is a blast. Even if you can’t get past the first level(honestly I put over two hours into this thing, and I still can’t collect more than seven crates without dying), you can still collect all the weapons and blast the crap out of enemies. And there’s always Game Center and/or OpenFeint achievements to rack up, and competition between friends for the best score is sure to be fierce. This title definitely doesn’t feel like an indie- it’s polished and addicting, which I deem deserving enough of your $1.99 and your attention.

You can grab Super Crate Box for your iPhone, iPod, iPad, PC, or Mac.

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