Super Destronaut: Land Wars is a Simple, Stylish, Retro Shooter

Remember playing Super Destronaut in the arcades? Yes?

Then you’re a big fibber. Because, while it had all the appeal of an arcade classic, it was an homage to Space Invaders. And now it’s back, only it’s a… 3D shooter?

Super Destronaut: Land Wars takes the enemies from the original game (which Rich called “one hell of a retro inspired title”) and drops them into a neon-coloured, procedurally generated arena. Understandably, they’re none-too-happy about this so will do their level best to murder you. Your task is, while toting a multitude of swappable weaponry, to do your best to murder them first.

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They may not be in space, toddling left and right in rows, but your enemies can still wear you down thanks to their superior, ever-increasing, numbers. It’s pretty straightforward, but there’s a range of modes to try and keep things interesting. There’s a challenge mode, which charges you with completing a series of ever-escalating tasks; and arcade mode which, with optional modifiers, allows you upgrade your abilities and weapons when you’ve collected enough coins.

Like Paradox Vector before it, Super Destronaut: Land Wars is from a genre that never existed: the 3D wireframe shoot ’em up. But that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable; with dubstep soundtrack pounding in your ears, you’ll mow down enemy after enemy. Grinning like an idiot, you’ll dash to the wall-mounted shop, hoping to spend your ill-gotten gains before the definitely-not-Space-Invaders can descend upon you once more. Let’s see how you deal with a wireframe rocket-launcher, eh? Prepare to have your pixels spread over a six mile radius.

But the snag is that the more you play Super Destronaut: Land Wars, the more its lack of variety becomes apparent. The levels, despite being procedurally generated, are basically the same; the odd pathway and tree placement may vary but you’ll struggle to discern one procedurally-generated level from the next. There’s no taking advantage of vantage points or ducking behind low walls, either. Likewise the enemies you face: with no boss monsters or any kind of “elite” enemy types to mix up your battles, the game starts to become a grind.

Still, it offers a good bit of fun for an hour or so. Super Destronaut: Land Wars has short term appeal and, I suspect, may find favour with speed-runners or those who get a kick from beating their own score. If you’ve spent hour after hour playing Pac-Man or similar, replaying the same level until you know every nook and cranny, just to beat your top score, then Super Destronaut: Land Wars will be right up your pellet-lined street. But for the rest of us, this retro-blast is best enjoyed in small doses.

Super Destronaut: Land Wars is available on PS4, Xbox One and Switch for £4.99/$4.99.