Captain Binary Review

Aliens have invaded Earth and are repeatedly attacking the city, or rather, the same street. With no one left to help them, in a move straight out of Pixar’s The Incredibles, the people turn to a bloated and retired superhero named Captain Binary. With his glory days behind him, however, old Captain B is going to use more than just his fists to stop this crisis: Captain Binary is packing heat. We hope you like shooting aliens as much as Captain Binary does, because that is all you’ll be doing throughout this entire game.

Pew pew pew pew!

Captain Binary, from Spooky Studio and Twin Bottles, is a side-scrolling shooter that plays like a simplified version of Contra without a jump button. Actually, with its vibrant cartoon graphics and subversive craziness, it looks more like Alien Hominid.

Different actions like pausing, shooting at angles, and choosing weapons are mapped to different zones on the touch screen, which can be a little confusing at first. You have to tap on the right side of the screen to shoot, even if you want to shoot enemies on the left, but it will become second nature soon enough. Besides, it’s better than the alternative control scheme of tilting to move.

After being unceremoniously dropped into the action, Captain Binary walks through the same handful of streets, taking on waves of a few different classes of aliens and occasionally getting a new kind of gun. It’s straightforward, but not always easy, especially towards the end of the 10-level campaign.

Flying saucers with one-shot kills will swoop in, requiring you to shoot at 45 or 90 degree angles using a rocket launcher as opposed to your default pea shooter. Better guns and grenades have limited ammo too, so it might be better to simply punch that alien to death rather than vaporize him or leave him riddled with shotgun blasts. Finally, there is also a block button, and if timed right, Captain Binary can use his cape to bounce blasts back towards those Marvin the Martian wannabes.

We come in peace.

When playing Captain Binary, you have to discover these deeper strategies on your own. You have limited lives, and if you die you’ll go right back to the beginning. This is always annoying, especially given this modern age of checkpoints we live in.

Levels get harder and the handful of new weapons and enemies are introduced gradually, but nothing ever really changes. Even the fantastic, Saturday morning cartoon visuals and animations become less impressive when viewed over and over again. It’s the same problem all classic brawlers have, which is where Captain Binary seems to have gotten a lot of inspiration, right down to the 16-bit music and sound effects. With no real story, and just a jaunty theme song and a few funny comic panels here and there, Captain Binary didn’t succeed at keeping our interest for long.

The few things that Captain Binary attempts to do, it does well. The aesthetics are superb and the shooting is tight and fun. It’s just a shame there’s nothing more to it outside of the ‘shoot aliens and move right’ gameplay formula. For 99¢, as long as you take it one level at a time and spread it out over a few days, you might enjoy mowing down those creeps for five minutes a day.

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