Halting alien invasions is the subject of countless movies, shows, books, and games with each one trying to put their own spin on the situation. Enter Super Mutant Alien Assault and its port to Nintendo Switch, an action platformer with randomised rooms and high stakes, where death will send you back to the beginning of a galaxy run and force you to learn and be better until you succeed.
The game takes place aboard a spaceship being attacked by aliens, with you taking control of a robot trying to fend them off. To help, you can use the various dispensaries dotted through the levels provide weapons, explosives, and health. The weapons and explosives are randomly assigned, so you could end up with a machine gun or a rocket launcher, and depending on the situation that could be a good or bad thing. You have to make do with the weapons you pick up until the cooling off period for the dispenser is done, allowing you to grab something else. You also need to be aware that you don’t get a ton of ammo with each weapon, so you have to make those shots count. As you make progress more weapons become available to use, like a laser sword and a mini-gun.
Each level as one of a few objectives to complete before moving on. These include having to carry hyperdrive canisters to the hyperdrive itself, taking gas containers to a slot, simply surviving waves of enemies, or stopping the pressure building in some sections of the ship. Every mission will have enemies to fight against, and they get tougher as you move forward.
Just like the randomised weapons, each new enemy type that’s unlock brings different approaches, and most enemies do have an evolution making them stronger and giving them more powerful attacks. You’ll get a warning that an enemy is about to evolve as their outlines glow green, so it’s best to take them out first.
The action itself is fast-paced as you juggle the different enemies that come for your robot, and you have to constantly switch up your tactics depending on what weapons you have to hand. The rocket launcher is awful for close quarters due to the damage it will do to you, while the mini-gun takes a bit of time to fire while it spins up. On the other hand, the sword, the deadly pogo stick, and cluster grenades are great fun. You will die a lot as you get used to the weapons and tools at your disposal, but as you get better runs, you’ll start to unlock items that you can start a run with, such as dashing, dodging and sidearms.
There’s a total of three galaxies to pass through in the campaign with each leading up to a boss battle. Once you get the hang of the gameplay, it doesn’t take too long to get through the campaign on normal difficulty, but that leads to the added challenge of Endless mode, where you can see just how far you can get before your skills are bested by the enemies. If you need a hand, you can rope in a friend to play together which, on Nintendo Switch, is as simple as handing them a Joy-Con.
The 2D pixel art style has a lot of colour to it, helping everything look well defined so you can clearly see what is happening on screen. The action is accompanied by quite a catchy dubstep soundtrack that complements the events on screen well as well. All in all Super Mutant Alien Assault is a fun little distraction.