‘Pineapple Smash Crew’ Review – Bombs Away!
Let’s get one thing out of the way first, before we delve any further into this game – that title is shockingly bad. It’d be a good name for a Hawaiian metal band, but not so much for a game. However, you should never judge a book by its cover, and similarly a game by its title. So believe me when I say this: Pineapple Smash Crew (PSC) is a game that you’re going to want to pick up, and Eurogamer Expo agrees, with the award for Best Indie Game going to it in 2011.
In PSC, you play as a group of 4 mercenaries, who excel in tight formation shooting on spaceships. However, rather than the game focusing on giving you an excellent array of guns, you only have one gun – a submachine gun. Before you start to decry the game as basic, the one-man developer Rich Make Game has put all of the focus onto GRENADES instead. Whilst grenades usually play second-string to their internal ballistic cousins, in PSC they take center stage.
That’s right! Instead of the Mercs using their fingers all the time, they use their whole damn hand to chuck rockets, fragmentation grenades and laser grenades, as well as a whole host of other projectiles. Whilst the machine-gun is useful in the game as a backup weapon, it’s really the turn of the grenade in PSC. When the grenades are accompanied with over-the-top Bomberman-style explosions, it’s hard not to approve of the decision, even when it means that the machinegun is rather underpowered.
The gameplay in PSC is reminiscent of Alien Breed; it’s a top-down shooter set on a spaceship, so the comparison is an obvious one. As you wander about the various rooms, all of which are randomly generated, there are numerous enemies and pickups to destroy and collect, in order to gain credits and XP. Once you’ve gained enough XP you level up your mercenary party and gain access to more types of grenades. With one grenade per slot, however, you have to switch between Mercenaries in order to use the various grenades you pick up.
With no story, PSC relies on the fact that it has an infinite number of spaceships in order to hook the player in, and this is a bit of a double-edged sword. Whilst the game is ludicrously fun at first, the joy you gain from sweeping through a ship and destroying everything in sight quickly runs out to be replaced with a steadily growing boredom. Though the ships change, the gameplay doesn’t evolve and this breeds repetition. As such, it just feels like you’ve done everything once you’ve played through 10-20 levels. The game tries to offset that feeling by providing you with new grenades as you continue to level up, but there really is no real incentive to continue playing past a certain point.
If you’re thinking a multiplayer offering would spice up the experience of PSC, you’re correct, it would. However, due to the sheer complexities of a one-man development team crafting a working network code and multiplayer mode, there isn’t one included. It’s a damn shame, as the 4 soldier team practically lends itself to 4 player co-op. Unfortunately, those are the limitations of indie development, at least in this case.
Where PSC doesn’t lose its charm is in the visual department, with its blocky but colourful visuals providing an interesting and appealing experience. The spaceships are well designed, if seemingly identical after a while, but the area that is the most aesthetically pleasing is the explosions. Sprouting out from the grenades in a pixel-fiery radius that is beautifully animated, the explosions are entrancing and really help draw you into PSC.
For a first attempt at a solo game, PSC is a brilliant game that is well-made and plays around with a previous concept by switching the primary roles of grenades and guns. However, the enjoyment of the top down shooting is quickly replaced with the boredom of familiarity – the XP progression and the new upgrades do little to stop the repetitious missions. The lack of any multiplayer component also inhibits the potential fun factor overall. Pineapple Smash Crew is a valiant effort, and an enjoyable game, but not something you are likely to keep returning to again and again.
More information on Pineapple Smash Crew can be found on the game’s official website. It can be purchased for $8.99/£6.99 on its official Steam page and also on Desura.
Review summary Pros:
Infinite numbers of spaceships to shoot on, reminiscent of Alien Breed and Cannon Fodder, excellent Bomberman-style explosions
Screaming out for co-op but none present, the game goes nowhere and feels too cyclical