Monday 27 February 2023

Akka Arrh Review (Switch)

Atari has been treating us to some great reworkings and collections based on its back catalogue for its 50th anniversary celebrations. The latest is this resurrected arcade game which has been revived and then handed over to the legendary Jeff Minter to give it a modern reworking. We love Jeff Minter, we love arcade games and we love the fact this has been given the usual weird Minter twist.

For those not aware of Minters work you are most likely to have come across it on modern platforms with the Tempest franchise. Tempest 4000 is out on various platforms and the recent Atari collection has Tempest 2000 on it as well. Minter always looks to merge surreal visuals, music and addictive gameplay to create games that could only have come from his mind. And so it proves yet again here.

There are certainly elements of Tempest in Akka Arrh. You are blasting shapes and racking up points while surreal visuals and sounds float around in their glory. Unlike Tempest, this is viewed from a top down perspective. You have a turret set up in the middle of any number of different shapes as enemies swarm towards you from all sides. The aim is to drop a bomb which then explodes any enemies that it touches. These enemies then explode as well causing continual chain reactions. The goal is to use as few bombs as possible to clear the level and rack up a huge score.

This is only the beginning though. As well as bombs you can also fire bullets. These are limited but don’t reset your score when fired. Certain enemies can also only be hit with bullets. If an enemy makes it to your turret they will drop down to your core and try to steal your pods which effectively act as your lives. You can dive down there though where a second turret awaits to blast any intruders.

It all starts out very simply but by the time you hit level eight and above the range of enemies to contend with expands to a point your brain will be trying to analyse how to deal with a whole host of different threats all at the same time. And just because you have ten or more pods going into a level doesn’t mean you have any chance of getting out alive without a serious amount of skill and sharp reflexes.

Overall, Akka Arrh is another example of the surreal fun that Minter can bring. It’s not quite as polished as Tempest but this is a remarkable update of the original arcade game and it holds up well on the Switch. It’s undoubtedly weird but there is a consistent logic and pattern recognition. When you get in the zone you’ll fly through a chunk of levels smashing your previous scores and there’s certainly nothing else out there like it.

Overall 8/10

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