Now available for the Xbox, PlayStation, the Nintendo Switch and PC, Akka Arrh is the latest brainchild of Jeff Minter’s Llamasoft, published by Atari. We checked it out on a PlayStation 5.
Those who have been around video games since the days of home computing will fondly remember Jeff Minter’s work in those days. On computers like the C64, ZX Spectrum, Atari ST and Amiga, games like Gridrunner and Attack of the Mutant Camels were hugely popular, and Minter himself became a bit of a cult figure early on – regularly featuring the many print magazines of that time. It’s part of the reason why games like the later Tempest sequels and Polybius might look strange, but instantly attract an audience.
Akka Arrh is a much lesser known name than something like Tempest, and that’s because the original game ended up being canceled back in the 1980s. As with other Llamasoft titles, it’s an arcade-inspired title with wave shooter mechanics – and it of course features plenty of colorful and trippy visuals. Gameplay-wise, you control a turret and must try to protect life pods from incoming enemies with a range of different weapons. It’s a bit like Tempest, but you can see hints of twin stick shooters like Geometry Wars a well.
What’s rather novel about Akka Arrh is how it handled its different weapons – which include a bomb that explodes in sync with the rhythm of the soundtrack. A soundtrack that is, as you can expect from Jeff Minter, full of quality electronic dance music. What’s also interesting is that enemies that you take down turn into ‘bombs’ of their own as well, damaging others around them – when timed well this can be your gateway towards some massive combos and high scores.
Another Jeff Minter staple are the trippy visuals that you can see on full display in Akka Arrh as well. Though aesthetically nice, the chain reaction nature of the gameplay can cause the on-screen action to look a little cluttered. The game seems to embrace this though, because it’ll name your combos in increasingly more bizarre and convoluted ways as your combo count rises – it’s a lot more fun than just seeing “awesome combo” all the time.
Akka Arrh features 50 levels in its campaign, and while it’s fun to play through them all the gameplay doesn’t feel like it pulls you in for another go like Tempest 4000 or TxK do – the sometimes overly busy visuals and randomness/unfairness hold it back a little in that regard. Nevertheless, one that’s an easy purchase for the Minter fans.