“The Sugar Killerz”is an enjoyable game that again raises the question of value. Is 400 Microsoft Points a great price versus comparable 800+ MSP XBLA titles, or a bad price versus some fantastic 80 Microsoft Point? I tend to fall into the former camp, I’ve paid 400 points for indie games that blow anyway similar XBLA games that cost 2 or 3 times as much, or that are unlike anything available in XBLA at any price. So I have no problem with paying 400 points for a game I enjoy, and it certainly offers far more value to me than a 1200 point Call of Duty map pack.
“The Sugar Killerz” isn’t exactly like any game I’ve played, but I can compare elements of it to games you may be familiar with. The game controls a bit like a dual-stick shooter, but isn’t limited to an arena. It’s also not limited to scrolling either vertically or horizontally, as it does both. And it scrolls towards the backround (psuedo-3D) at times. The changing perspective reminds me of games like Metal Slug, in fact. Perhaps inspired by the shifting perspective between levels, the direction enemies come at you seems less restricted than a typical side-scrolling shoot-’em-up, which keeps you on your toes.
The premise has you destroying junk food, so it’s kind-of, sort-of got a message behind it, but one easily ignored. Graphics are appealing, with a wide selection of levels and backgrounds (including some with obstacles along the top and bottom of the screen, and others without) and a cinematic feel to the transitions between levels. Enemies are similarly varied, with some amusing touches including some enemies that appear to be holding riot shields (and act as if they’re shielded too). Your AI compatriots are excellent, dealing death very effectively. So much so, you might actually find your friends are not as good as AI teammates, though the included multiplayer offering is appreciated and suits a game like this very well. You have four weapons (selectable with the face buttons) and they feel decidedly different, which is all you can ask for.
Some time back, Kat looked at an XBLIG called Square Off. In that game, you and your buddies played as one of four “Square Avengers” that were out to save the Earth from invading aliens. Fast forward to now and another co-op title hits the Xbox Live Indie scene where you and up to three more of your local buddies can team up to take down invading hordes of… errr, candy? Let me be clear from the start, though: while The Sugar Killerz does bring to mind the other indie title previously mentioned, it doesn't feel like some knock-off and stands out on its own.
The game starts off with a kind of picture-by-picture set up for the ensuing saccharine carnage. Near as I can tell, the king of some kingdom gets it into his head that if all the candy in the kingdom is destroyed, his popularity will go up; so he hires four mercenaries to complete the sweet deed. This is where you and your buddies step-in. You can choose to play as The Mad, The Dumb, The Cool, and The Bad, though all play the same when controlled by players, just with different colors and skins. You have at your disposal a small arsenal of firearms, including a shotgun, a sniper rifle, and dual SMGs (each with a primary and secondary fire), that you can quickly switch between using the 360 controller’s face buttons. As you go through each level, the objective is straightforward and simple: kill all the candy you see.
Gameplay-wise, The Sugar Killerz comes off feeling similar to a lot of twin-stick shooters out there. Movement is controlled with the left stick, you aim with the right, and fire your weapon using either the right or left trigger (for primary and secondary fire, respectively). However, the power-ups (you can go all John Woo, slow motion style) and co-op gameplay is where this title truly shines. I mentioned previously that there are four different mercs from whom to choose when you play and how each one plays the same when controlled by players.If you don’t have enough players to fill up the other slots for a session, then the AI will control the remaining mercs; and each one will behave in his own particular way. The Bad, for instance, tends to hog all the power-ups and is very aggressive, racking up kill after kill. So even if you’re just playing with one friend while the computer controls the rest, you will still get some of that same feeling of having a full group with the way the AI-controlled buddies behave. Having AI companions that actually work (gasp!) aside, the game itself is very co-op friendly and definitely is a great “pick-up-and-play for a few levels” kind of game. The sheer mayhem that ensues when the screen fills up with “Horny Pigs” (nope, that’s not a mistake) is something that just has to be experienced with a friend. Oh, and while there’s no friendly-fire mechanic, in what feels like a very tongue-in-cheek kind of nod to it, you revive falling comrades by shooting their ghosts before they float off the screen. For an XBLIG title, $5 may seem like a fair amount to ask, but The Sugar Killerz’s replay value is fairly high and is a great addition to any shooter’s library of games.
The Sugar Killerz is For: Twin-stick shooter and Square Off fans; not to mention fans of pure co-op fun. The Co-Op Experience: Each player controls his or her own candy-killing mercenary and fight his way through hordes of sweet (but deadly) candy treats; play with up to three friends or let the computer take control of the other mercenaries
Goodness me, we’ve certainly got a lot of twinstick shooters on the Xbox Live Indie marketplace. And here’s another one. 400 Microsoft Points is a seriously big ask for a colourful, shallow clone – so the The Sugar Killerz has to work very hard to justify its price tag.
And it does. The focus is on balls-out four player cooperative action, with AI taking over the human roles if you don’t have enough friends to bulk out the roster. There are plenty of weapons and enemy types to go around, and a riotous sense of unashamed fun and humour to compliment the gameplay. The graphics are also very impressive for an XBL Indie title: showcasing capable character design and some great backgrounds.
The Sugar Killerz may have a terrible name, but it’s far from a terrible game. High production values and rampant, ridiculous fun is the order of the day.
Italian developers, Fun Hazard, promise a cinematic experience with a great soundtrack in The Sugar Killerz. I’m not sure just how cinematic the game gets beyond what I sampled in the demo, but it starts off with some pretty nice still frames that set the story and the soundtrack (by AcidRider) is certainly pretty snappy. But what about the rest of the game? Does it hold up? The Sugar Killerz are mercenaries, seemingly hired by the local king to assassinate all candy in the land. It seems that the candy is either interfering with the king’s approval rating, or perhaps they’re just causing his stock to crash out, so he enlists The Killerz help to carry out his plan. The Killerz look like they may well be candy themselves, being small, colorful chunk-like things and whatnot. However, it seems genocide doesn’t seem to bother them, so long as the money is right.
You play as either the Mad, the Cool, the Dumb, or the Bad, with friends or A.I. bots rounding out the rest of the cast of this side-scrolling, twin-stick shmup. You swap between four different weapons using the face buttons, each of which has an alt-fire mode, and mow down hordes of on-screen enemies, picking up power-ups and generally doing shmup-y kinda stuff.
The only real downside that presented itself during my time with the demo was how enemies were distributed throughout the level (seeming to just come flying at you from all directions in waves, with no real rhyme or reason), and that they didn’t seem to pose much of a threat. Of course, I think this mainly may have been due to some of the most hyper-aggressive A.I. partners I’ve ever seen in a game keeping the screen cleared out, leaving me on mop-up duty. Still, it’s obvious that a lot of work that went into this one. If you don’t balk at the $5 price tag, you should definitely check it out.
It seems the twin-stick shooter is back andThe Sugar Killerz is the most recent iteration of this recently rejuvenated genre. Playing as one of four gun-toting killerz out for some sweet justice, players shoot away calorie-heavy hooligans pouring onto the screen.
Here’s what we liked:
4 player co-op – When gamers start trying to figure out what to play when you have a bunch of their friends, they usually come to find that there isn’t a lot of options. With four player, shared screen co-op, four different weapons to choose from, and a on screen score tracker, friends can easily jump into this game together.
Easy to pick up, but has variety in play – It’s a twin-stick shooter folks, so everyone knows how to play it. The left stick moves the character, the right aims the gun. The controls are blissfully simple. The bonus is that the game changes enough during play to keep from getting dull.
A soundtrack worth the price of a CD – The music in The Sugar Killerz is the crowning glory. It has a unique and stylized sound that really rings true to the classic games of yesteryear. Players could purchase the game for solely the soundtrack and be totally happy.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
The AI can play through the game for you – After about a half an hour with the game we put the controller down and let the AI do all the work. Our character sat in the middle of the screen, inactive, and after he died, he was resurrected by the AI. Stepping away from the game and returning we realized the game had progressed further in the level. The AI teammates are good enough to hold their own; they can kill everything on screen, resurrect the player quickly when they are hurt, and were able to complete the game all on their own.
Not a large variety of enemies – The enemies in The Sugar Killerz do vary, but not enough to enhance the experience. Seeing the same enemies in every level takes away from the feeling of progression. Fighting the same guys seen in the first scene when near the end makes the experience feel hollow.
The Sugar Killerz is an option for those people who always want to have a slew of local four-person games available in their digital library. Also, if players are looking for a solid soundtrack to mindlessly shoot tasty treats to, this will meet that craving. Unfortunately, aside from the soundtrack, there isn’t anything special that sets the title apart as a must-buy for everyone. The Sugar Killerz has an excellent soundtrack which is available in-game for your listening pleasure, outside of the actual gameplay. The music is worth the 400MSP purchase; the game is something that players will have to decide on their own..