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Super Crate Box: Arcade Action Glory

Super Crate Box echoes vintage arcade classics by having the action play out on a single screen. Like those games, the goal is to accumulate as high a score as possible before being defeated. Points are scored by collecting the crates that randomly spawn around the stage. Only one crate can be on screen at once, so the player must continue to collect them to increase their score. Meanwhile, enemies spill out from a tube at the top of the stage. They’ll make their way down the screen along predictable paths, and if they reach the bottom without the player destroying them, they’ll respawn at the top in a faster and more dangerous form.

Fortunately, the player is well-equipped. Each crate contains a randomly selected weapon from the player’s unlocked arsenal. These weapons never run out of ammunition, but you can only carry one at a time. Collecting the next crate will give you a new weapon, and since the goal of the game is to earn points by grabbing those crates, you can’t just keep your favorite weapon once you’ve got it. This forces the player to think quickly and adapt to each new weapon, using it in the best possible way to sweep the screen before moving on to the next crate and the weapon it contains.

Some weapons are easier to use than others, but all of them are useful in particular situations. There are a total of 14 different weapons in the game, with some of them offering simple direct offense and others requiring a more careful touch. Most of the expected weapons you would find in a video game are here, such as a shotgun, a rocket launcher, and a pistol. You’ll also find some more unusual pieces of offensive gear, such as the dangerous Disc Gun, which fires a speedy, powerful projectile that reflects off the side of the screen for a return trip to the firing position. That sounds great, except that it’s just as lethal to your character as it is to the enemy. Another interesting weapon is the land mine, which will explode a short time after it has been placed when an enemy approaches it. Those mines will stay until they explode, even if you pick up another weapon.

Also, your character is incredibly fragile. A single touch from any enemy will end your run then and there. Falling down any of the pits in the stages will also result in defeat. On the other hand, when it comes to speed and agility, you won’t feel let down. Super Crate Box is, in general, a very speedy game and that fortunately extends to your movement. While you can’t outrun every monster, you can at least out-maneuver them thanks to your jumping ability. Indeed, any individual monster is no match for our hero. Tragically, these monsters almost never appear individually. Learning how to manage the arena while continually grabbing boxes is the key to winning in this game, and with safe areas rather limited, it falls on your ability to dodge and avoid danger however you can.

While the primary goal of Super Crate Box is to get as high a score as you can by collecting crates, the game also features a number of unlockables that you’ll want to consider. Extra weapons, new characters and arenas, and even extra gameplay modes can be uncovered through various means. Some of those characters are even a little famous. Most of these unlockables can be found by one of two different methods. The first, and perhaps the easiest, is simply by collecting crates over the course of many rounds. This is how you unlock the weapons. Since you don’t have to play skillfully so much as play often to get these, it ensures that everyone will have access to a robust arsenal if they’re persistent. 

The other main means of unlocking things is more difficult. You’ll have to achieve a high score within one round to get at many of extra characters, stages, and modes. Unlocking the other two arenas isn’t too difficult, but the extra modes and many of the characters require you to rack up some fairly high scores. To be fair, it’s unlikely a player would have much fun with the more difficult modes if they’re unable to get the necessary scores on the normal mode to unlock them. Some of the extra characters have special unlock conditions beyond simply posting a high score, presenting the player with additional challenges that require new strategies. How many crates can you collect without firing your gun? And what might you get for doing well at that? Give it a try and see.

Ultimately, the brilliance of Super Crate Box is in how the main goal runs contrary to the lessons many game players have learned so well. If you find a good weapon, you should keep it. Find your favorite weapon and specialize with it. Stay out of the way of enemies and only deal with them if you have to. In this game, that kind of thinking won’t take you very far. You have to learn how to use all of the weapons because you never know which one you’ll have to use. As soon as you pick up a weapon, no matter how good, you need to start thinking about how you’re going to grab the next one. Any unattended enemies are only going to cause you a lot more trouble very soon. It’s a fast game that requires quick thinking and sound strategy, and if that’s not the very essence of a brilliant arcade game, it’s hard to say what is.


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