Take twelve single screen levels, add a collection of different weapon vending machines and objectives, and layer the entire thing under a heavy hitting dubstep soundtrack. The mixture works in an unexpectedly delicious way, like pineapple on pizza or cilantro on absolutely anything.
SMAA is the fully realized dream of Chris Suffern, the one-man developer Cybernate out of Sydney Australia. A few years ago Chris made Mutant Alien Assault, his homage to single screen arcade shooters. Now he’s back with SMAA and his skill set is on full display. I highly recommend this game.
Like all the best classic arcade games SMAA is more than double the fun in local co-op. With its difficulty it has the ability to solidify gaming friendships or make co-op gamers hate each other for a week. That, and I cannot stress this enough, is a huge compliment. You should always leave the arcade feeling strongly, either negatively or positively. You should always want to either hug or punch your co-op. These are rules I live by.
The twelve levels are randomly built, not only with layout but also with weapon vending machines and objectives. It makes each play through unique. Randomly generated levels are great opportunities for gamers to use the “unfair” word but I never felt like the game generated anything with a wildly different difficulty spike. That’s not to say the game is easy, it is not, but the random elements never feel unfair.
The learning curve is baked into the game and paced extremely well. The player gets a new move, weapon, or objective every couple of plays and once you’ve unlocked the full compliment you see the deepness of this arcade throwback.
The different objectives give each screen an entirely different feel. You could be told to survive, or wipe out all enemies, or deliver items from one point of the screen to another.
The game controls like butter and that butter is nicely brushed over the crust of the pineapple pizza. The hit boxes are crisp and nearly perfect and I never once felt anything close to lag.
The one knock I would say (and I say this a lot with the Switch) is that I recommend re-mapping the controls right at the beginning. In the default controls the standard attack button is the right bumper and the special move is one of the face buttons. That order needs to be reversed. My standard attack should be close at hand on the face of the controller and my special move should be on the bumper where I’ll use it more rarely.
Even if you hate pineapple pizza, (I’m just now realizing I picked a metaphor many people are not on board with) SMAA is a game you need to check out.
Nathan is the co-host of the Splash Damage Bros. Podcast. He genuinely loves pineapple on pizza and can be found @splashdamagebro and @thenatejc