Indie Review: Pax Britannica & Super Crate Box
Pax Britannica is a one-button strategy game with deceptively deep aspects and a fun multiplayer. While Super Crate Box is the pinnacle of one-screen platforming with great gameplay and promises to get you addicted to it.
- Worth The Time?In short, yes; for reasons outlined in this review.
- Things LovedSimple pick up and play mechanics that you can rely on to be fun.
- Things HatedNo multiplayer for Super Box Crate, would've been nice to have a co-op or a sort of race for points mode.
- RecommendationFor any fan of Indie Games, or even games in general. Pax Britannica and Super Crate Box are exceptionally well made games for free-to-play indie titles. Pax Britannica in particular is a great little strategy game with plenty of appeal and an addictive multiplayer aspect. Super Crate Box is brilliant and is well worth the many accolades it has recieved by indie title journalists and fans alike.
- Name: Indie Review: Pax Britannica & Super Crate Box
- Genre: Pax Britannica (Strategy) & Super Crate Box (Platforming)
- Players: Pax Britannica (4) & Super Crate Box (1)
- Multiplayer: Pax Britannica (Yes) & Super Crate Box (No)
- Platforms: PC
- Developer: Pax Britannica (No Fun Games) & Super Crate Box (Vlambeer)
- Publisher: None, they're Indie
- Price: Free
- Reviewed On: PC
Free indie games are often associated with a type of simplicity of gameplay, graphics and concept when compared to the artistic flair and innovation of indie games with a price. This may be true to some extent when comparing free-to-play indie games with paid for indie titles as successful as Minecraft, Braid, Limbo and Terraria; to which represent the crème of the crop. Nevertheless, it’s an unwarranted bias and I aim to show, in a series of mini-reviews, that free-to-play indie games should hold a place within the heart of any gamer; just as any other game would.
Rather than give in to the stereotype of half assed and short reviews just because they’re free-to-play indie games. I ‘m going to give each game the proper review it deserves.
Pax Britannica is a proponent of the tried and trusted idea that while big is at times better, complexity for complexities sake is a sure fire way to suck. To push that even further, Pax Britannica has decided that it’s going for the ultimate in simplicity, a single button. In fact, Pax Britannica’s installation is more complicated than playing the game itself. So much so that it makes game as simple as Angry Birds seems so thoroughly complex that you might as well be playing Supreme Commander. In Pax Britannica, the single button controls the construction of aircraft from within an aircraft carrier in charge of its own direction. Basically your ship, and as well as your enemy’s, circles the screen as you press a button according to where a loading bar is within a circular dial. This circular dial consists of four sections and depending on which section you’ve chosen to build (produce a unit), your ship produces one of four results: a fighter with which to fend off enemy bombers and their pesky fighters; a bomber, which as the name implies, bombs the enemy carrier; a large gunship, which not only attacks your enemy carrier but all that oppose it; and finally, the last bar upgrades your building speed.
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The point of the game, as you should have guessed, is to destroy the enemy carrier by strategically sending out the right forces to attack the enemy as well as defend yourself. There are no resources to constructing units as such. Instead, as you select which unit to build within the progress dial, your progress on the bar is reduced. So building nothing but fighters will prevent the enemy from doing much, but as fighters cannot attack carriers and you cannot produce any other units, neither can you. Basically it comes down to balance and out thinking your enemies last action. I could have explained the game in one sentence but this serves to demonstrate the type of strategic complexity that can actually develop from even the most simple of gameplay styles. Graphically, it’s very basic but happily represents exactly what it is. Which I don’t know about you but it gives me a Stargate vibe and that’s perfect for me.
All in all, Pax Britannica is a very fun and because only one button is required you can play with up to four friends on the same PC. It’s a thoroughly addictive game and is especially useful when you find yourself bored at say varsity with free time to kill between lectures.
According to a number of people, people seemingly in the know about indie games, Super Crate Box is one of the best free-to-play indie games of 2010. That’s quite the accolade and despite me being one year later, to which I’m sure there’s potentially already a best of 2011, I aim to test SCB’s claim. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure someone (hopefully me) gets to that 2011 list within 2011; game reviews within the year they’re released, I am getting ambitious.
Super Crate box (SCB), personally I think Super Box Crate sounds better, is about as simple as a 2d platforming game as you can get. Its aim is to demonstrate the strength of free-to-play indie gaming by (forgive me for the cliché) not biting off more than it can chew. In this way, the game revolves around two simplistic yet well amalgamated elements; collect ‘em boxes and don’t die. The role of the player is to leap across to a variety of platforms, depending on the levels design, within a static one screen area. This isn’t a simple leap before you look mechanic however, as it tasks you with either avoiding or killing an assortment of uhm, well evil enemy thingies. I’m really not sure what they are but they range in look as well as size and all amount to potentially ending your SCB score. The final win comes down to you collecting the allotted amount of boxes… or crates, or super crate boxes… Hmmm? Well the point is that as you collect each one (on the way to increasing your score to the designated target), you are given a weapon with which to defend yourself. The tactic is, either leap out of the way of your enemies while shooting only the most pertinent targets (aka the one’s about to pawn you) and collect the boxes as quickly as possible, yet risking them obtaining uber buffs as they quite literally get pissed at you for avoiding them. Or killing them but thereby taking longer to move from one platform to another and potentially being overwhelmed by the enemy thingies gunning for the now stationary target. It’s also important to note that regardless of your strategy, which will involve much shooting and killing, your weapon changes each and every time you pick up a new box. So whether you pick up a shotgun or bazooka, you are forced to change your tactic on the fly.
It’s these small well polished elements, in combination with its charming pixelated graphics and awesome sound track that somehow make a great little game. I’m sure you know that many a game contain these elements, even if in different doses. So why is SCB so addictive? I suppose the developer has either stumbled across a delicious blend of aesthetics and gameplay or is using surreptitious and subliminal commands. No matter the reason, you need to try this game; even if it’s only for half an hour. Once you do, don’t be surprised if Super Crate Box gives you a serious case of the ever contagious, ‘I’ll just try one more time’ disease that indie games in particular seem to spread so rampantly.
You don’t need to play these games long to appreciate what the success of these types of indie games can demonstrate. Hopefully developers will either be inspired, or facing competition in a competitive industry, be pushed to develop their games around strong and well developed gameplay rather relying on other marketable aspects. I’m by no means saying that no games do that these days, Demon Souls (among others) seem to do that very thing brilliantly. I’m merely suggesting for those developers who have failed because, failing a great narrative, there gameplay is lacking.