Game Review: Super Destronaut Landed X Loaded (PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox)

I’ve been a huge fan of Spanish indie publisher Ratalaika Games ever since their first release on the PS Vita. While their titles were never Earth-shattering, they kept the console alive by porting a massive selection of indie PC titles to the platform using their custom game engines. Now focusing solely on modern platforms, they’re still doing the same and their latest release Super Destronaut Landed X Loaded has just hit consoles but is it worth the asking price?

Super Destronaut – A Long History

This isn’t the first game in the Super Destronaut series. Including this game, developers Petite Games have now released four games under the Super Destronaut banner. The original release, Super Destronaut DX, was a Space Invaders inspired shooter with vector styled visuals, a great thumping soundtrack and plenty of goal-based challenges mixed in alongside the arcade action. This was followed up by Super Destronaut Land Wars, a 3D tank based shoot-em-up. Again, using neon vector visuals, but it lost the charm of the original and apart from the look bore no connection to the first game.

A true sequel followed in the shape of Super Destronaut DX 2 which improved on the original in almost every way, while still remaining as addictive as ever. And finally we come on to Super Destronaut Landed X Loaded. And this time, the format has changed once again, turning the game into a 2D arena based platform shooter.

So What’s New?

As I said, once again the game format has changed completely and this time it’s a platform-based shooter. More specifically, it’s a single screen game played over 10 different arenas. Your unnamed character can move freely around the arena and it’s basically a game of endurance – defeat as many adversaries as possible and survive as long as you can while building up the best score you can. You have a basic weapon at your disposal to start with a limited amount of ammunition. More can be picked up continually during the game which appears randomly and you’ll need it as the creatures attacking you need varying amounts of shots to take them out.

Other weapons – including a drone that helps you out – can be collected at random. The creatures don’t attack you, but some will drop bombs on the floor and you’ll die if you come into contact with them. Different arenas have additional features in them including lifts, disappearing walkways and more, but each essentially plays the same.

Looks Familiar

If this all seems strangely familiar to you and the screenshots make you think you’ve seen this game before, then you’re not wrong. Super Destronaut Landed X Loaded has clearly been inspired by Vlambeer’s Super Crate Box which was released back in 2010. Ported from the PC to a range of consoles including the PS Vita and Switch, it’s even had an official retro remake for the Commodore 64!

Obvious comparisons are going to be made between the two and to be honest, Super Crate Box – in all of its incarnations – wins hands down. There’s more variety in the visuals, more levels, and a greater range of weapons at your disposal during play. Further more, while the powerups themselves are limited, the biggest frustration of Super Destronaut – the limited ammunition – isn’t present – making it a much more frantic and fun game.

Problematic Platformer

In theory, Super Destronaut Landed X Loaded should be a fun game. Sadly, it’s let down by a few issues that make it more frustrating than it needs to be. The first, and most obvious one, is the restricted ammunition. It’s all too easy to run out of ammo and either find yourself unable to reach more and be trapped between creatures so you can’t save yourself or even worse find your ammo draining quickly because of the over-sensitivity of the controls. On the PlayStation versions it makes use of the shoulder buttons to fire and it is very easy to fire multiple shots instead of one. With only 30 shots available at any one time, these can disappear before you know it.

Then you have the arenas themselves. There are only 10 to choose from and all of these are accessible from the beginning. As a player you don’t have to put any work in to unlock arenas so it’s very easy to get bored quickly with the game. Without any particular goal to work towards, it becomes little more than a high score grind.

Trophy Trauma

I played this game on the PS5 but one thing about Ratalaika releases is that their game engine ensures that all versions end up being pretty much identical on every format you play them on. However, one thing struck me when it came to playing this on the PS5 and no doubt it will be the same with the XBox and its Achievements system…

Before I go on, I have to stress that trophies in games don’t bother me at all. They’re a nice bonus and nothing else. I know some people find them to be a big selling point for games however and frankly we actually had two writers on the Vita Player website who had an unhealthy obsession with them. One of them spent several paragraphs in every review talking about them, how many each game had, how long it would take to get them and so on. When asked to tone things done, he refused and was ultimately asked to leave our team. A second person (who left for other reasons), was so obsessed that he would play games continually to the point that he would rage quite and restart them if he missed a single one and even snub visitors to his house if he was playing.

All that aside, Super Destronaut Landed X Loaded did something I never expected to see with a PlayStation game… It offers a total of 12 trophies for those who collect them, and there’s almost no effort needed to get them. Some just need you to play on some of the arenas, and one is simply to get killed! To give you an idea of how easy they are, I achieved all of them within 8 minutes of first loading the game! This really does make a mockery of the trophy system.

Lasting Appeal

While Super Destronaut Landed X Loaded is mildly entertaining in short bursts, it’s lost the addictive qualities that made the series so popular in the first place. It seems that any of the games that have strayed from the original format are the ones that have struggled in the playability and longevity departments. Which is a great pity as Petite Games have released some great titles over the years.

As I said earlier, the ammo mechanic, which a good idea on paper, really lets the players down in practice. Add to that the ease of gaining all of the trophies and it starts to lack reasons for players to come back for repeated gameplay sessions. What could have saved this incarnation in the series here would have been to have not only made the arenas unlockable, but to have kept with the previous games released…

The rest in the Super Destronaut series have had several game modes on offer to the players plus a series of challenges. These were incredibly diverse, and covered everything from achieving score targets within set time limits to defeating a set number of creatures before losing a life. With increasing difficulty these really extended the lifespan of the game, and gave you plenty of options when it came to choosing how to play the game each time you loaded it up. But here the only choice you have it which of the ten arenas to play. Your only challenge is to beat your previous score. I found myself playing the original weeks, if not months later because of this across several formats but I don’t feel that I’ll be returning to this even a week from now, let alone months later.

Overall

I really wanted to like this game. So much so that I bought it the moment it hit the PlayStation Store based on the strength of the previous games alone. As a fan of Ratalaika Games and having enjoyed other releases from Petite Games (and not just the Super Destronaut series) I had high hopes for this. But once the initial appeal wore off I really struggled to find any reason to want to keep playing. Having seen everything the game had to offer in the first 30 minutes of play, it left me disappointed and wanting to move on to something else instead.

About Simon Plumbe 209 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian. Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe

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