Picture the scene, you wake and the sky is blue, the birds are singing and everything is right with the world. You switch on the news to discover that an evil boss and his underlings are running amuck. This is usually the plot for all 1980s cartoons, but today it’s reality for a band of brothers titled “Clash Force”. You must guide Voom, Scorpido, or Echid on a wacky adventure. You will encounter a variety of creatures who; crawl, float, and jump in your way. Their only focus is to stop you in your path and end your life sooner rather than later.
Clash Force developed by Spicy Gyro Games and published by Ratalaika Games. It’s a classic 8-Bit run-and-gun adventure title that takes place over 20 stages and 4 worlds. A forest base, a hydrofield desert, underground mines, and Crackman’s Flying Fortress. The story revolves around the evil genius Crackman; he wants to rule the world. His minions do his bidding and he doesn’t care who stands in their way. He doesn’t count on the power of the “Clash Force”. They will dodge, shoot, and collect power ups en route to take down this evil army, and save the day.
Each of the team is available to select at the start of the adventure. I hoped that they would have individual special powers, but this wasn’t the case. I couldn’t identify anything other than aesthetics to choose one from the other. Once you have selected your hero, you must traverse traps, pits, and moving platforms. As you move from left to right the horde of enemies approach thick and fast. As the story progresses, the variety of foes increases. Each follows a set path, and method of attack, so you can study each and learn how to evade them. The worlds break down into 4 levels, and the difficulty increases at each stage. As you reach the end of the final level, you will face an end boss. Like the minions you face, these bosses follow a set pattern. Within a minute you will negate their attack and win the battle with ease.
If you are new to the genre, or you want no challenge you can select the simplest of 3 difficulties. The lowest setting is a walk in the park, and will offer very little in the way of resistance. The hardest mode requires you to be an 80s gaming veteran. Platform and run-and-gun titles must make up your playing DNA. I found that the middle ground was ideal. It was tough enough to offer a challenge, but simple enough that you didn’t smash a controller in rage. Each level offers a variety of weapon upgrades and defensive shields. When hit, you revert to your basic gun, and you rue your luck and poor judgement. If you fail a stage, and lose all your lives don’t fear, you return to the beginning and try again. Like all classic games of this genre, you will bite your lip with frustration. Victory will be in sight and a minor error will force you to die, and all your hard work will be undone.
The 80s cartoon idea embodies the theme, and the look of this game. The action takes place in a reduced area surrounded by the image of the three teammates. The 8-Bit pixilated sprites are odd on such a large screen, but worked well in this context. Using a bold colour palette was reminiscent of the old school Amiga and Atari games. As a gamer in his late 30s, this gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling of nostalgia. The animations were smooth, and I couldn’t identify any issues when playing. The layout of each stage forced you to take several leaps of faith. Unfortunately, this resulted in my death more times than I’d like to remember. You may think this would be annoying. It was part and parcel of the genre; you start the level again, dust yourself down, and learn from your mistakes.
The music that accompanied most 80s cartoons is recognisable. It sticks in your mind like the days of the week, or your phone number from your childhood. No matter what you do, you can’t shake the memories of those catchy tunes. Now I’m not saying that the music in Clash Force is anywhere near as good, but it gets the blood pumping. A high tempo and fast-paced synthesized soundtrack plays in the background throughout. The basic and crass sound effect of your weapon shooting was reminiscent of games gone by. I particularly enjoyed the variety of sounds that accompanied each weapon upgrade. The thudding sound as each projectile clashed with your foes brought a wry smile to my face. As with the graphics, the audio could be mistaken for an Amiga title, and it was a pleasure to experience.
One of my favourite elements of retro gaming is the simplicity of the game premise, and the controls. Clash Force doesn’t disappoint on either count. You must move your character from one position of safety to another by walking and jumping. You may shoot at anything that moves, and dodge foes you don’t wish to take on. You will start by tapping the shoot button, where your restriction will be, how fast your finger moves. Don’t be a fool, hold down that button, and your weapon will fire like Arnold Schwarzenegger with a Minigun. You decimate your enemies, and victory is all but assured. Controlling this game is as simple as they come, and you will have no issues, whether you are new to the genre, or a veteran.
20 stages sounds like the game will take some time to complete. In reality, this title lasts between 1 and 2 hours. The bosses are a breeze, and enemies don’t put up much resistance. You earn all achievements through natural progression. Once you’ve finished the game there is very little replay value to be had. The developers should have created an expert difficulty achievement list. This would have increased the replay value.
Clash Force is a short lived casual retro experience. The vivid colours and loud, upbeat audio emphasises the 80s style. Each stage is well designed, if not a little too short. You got into your flow only for the level to finish. It felt a little stop start for my liking, I would have preferred more depth, and challenge to the gameplay. Cartoons are the influencing factor for this title. It was a shame that the developers failed to use classic images to reinforce the stereotypes. It was missing cutscenes with bubbled text; Kapow, Bam, Pow. It would have been cheesy, cliched, but glorious. For its few shortcomings, Clash Force is a fun, playful and enjoyable gaming experience. I would recommend that you buy this. If you are looking for a quick title to fill a void in your gaming calendar, you won’t go wrong with this. Grab your team and gun, it’s time to tackle the evil genius and his minions. If you don’t, who else will save the day?
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Clash Force Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 3/10
Who can stop the evil Crackman and his minions from invading the world? Clash Force that’s who!
- Nice retro graphics.
- 80s inspired audio.
- Simple controls.
- Easy achievement list.
- Missed the opportunity to use cliched images.
- Not long enough.
- Achievements should have been reserved for expert difficulty setting.