La Piña de La Muerte: Pineapple Smash Crew
The world’s fastest man can run about 12 meters per second. The world’s slowest explosion travels about 1800. What can we learn from this? That we can do a way better job of motivating Olympic runners.
I’m sure there isn’t a person on earth who wouldn’t get a buzz from escaping an explosion. But in a game where you’ll be doing exactly that at least a couple times every minute, can the thrill last?
Pineapple Smash Crew sees a band of mercenaries searching for a big important ship called the Mothership, which will signal the end of their financial needs. How these combat-addicts plan to cope with retirement is never detailed, nor is even the need for money, which you’ll pick up as score but never be able to spend. In order to find the Mothership, the Smash Crew undertakes a series of missions aboard randomly-generated ships that have gone adrift after their framers forgot to install such niceties as engines, thrusters, or cockpits. How these ships came to be infested with robo-bugs or to contain fragments of the Mothership’s coordinates we may never know.
Okay, yes, the story is slim. But the game wrapped around those bare bones is so meaty that you’ll soon forget that your little men have any thought in their heads beyond the immediate needs of their superheated bughunt. The graphics are nicely done, the chiptune soundtrack is upbeat and catchy, and the sounds of combat are perfect in their weight and impact. More critically, the movement and shooting are smooth and deadly, especially once the realization dawns that our band of mercenaries is aptly named: they’re not the Laser Smash Crew, they’re the Pineapple Smash Crew, so stop relying so much on your pew-pew guns and start chucking those grenades like their pins have already popped out. The explosions are heartily satisfying, and you’ll find yourself outrunning the fireballs they create with regularity. A well-executed explosion can just about make a game for me, and PSC is uncommonly generous with its dose of showy detonations.
And the pineapples! They’re lovely, extreme, and possibly the most lavish assortment I’ve ever had the pleasure of using in a game. Smashed boxes spill out blue cubes that gradually increase your squad’s level, eventually allowing you to pick a new grenade from a pair of options. Soon you’ll be employing teleporter pineapples, vortex pineapples, fire-spouting pineapples, turret-sprouting pineapples, damage-aura pineapples, and decoy pineapples (among others) to go along with your conventional pineapples, rocket-propelled pineapples, and healing-aura pineapples. Even your Smash Crew is so in love with pineapples that they can’t help but chatter about them:
The downside: Pineapple Smash Crew wants to show you all its cool stuff so badly that it’s going to show it to you in little more than a single play.
The first time I undertook a mission in a darkened ship I was enthralled by the possibility of tense missions where my crew would be assaulted by barely-seen enemies. However, after only a few seconds of hesitant maneuvering, I found that the level was basically the same as every other level, just with a bluer background.
A short way into my first game, I entered the final room and was shocked when the walls crumbled and my squad was suddenly under fire from a saucer bristling with guns. The ambush fueled my imagination and I pictured enemies who could now break through walls, stripping me of the safety they had hereto provided. This was also not to be. Even worse, every single boss encounter after this point was identical, except for the saucer sometimes being red and better armored.
When I beat the game for the first time, I immediately started a second campaign in the hopes that a new game would be more difficult or varied. I was disappointed. In fact, after about one and a half playthroughs, I feel I’ve seen everything the game has to offer. I’ve seen all the grenades, enemies, and mission types, the latter two of which were simply too limited.
Rich Edwards has mentioned that he intends to continue supporting the game, especially in terms of adding variety. I hope he does. Pineapple Smash Crew is a solid game looking to be a great game, and if he keeps at it this could be an excellent roguelikeish. Still, I recommend taking a look if some smooth run’n’gun gameplay with few strings attached sounds fun. Of the places it’s on offer, I recommend Desura. Okay, Steam is fine too.
Final Score: More pineapples than you’ve ever seen, but still just a handful too few.