Super Chain Crusher Horizon (SCCH) is an unconventional, horizontal scrolling arcade-style mono-shot space ship shooter for one or two local players simultaneous. Its a game about making enemies explode and chaining those explosions into one another for big points and your survival. You’re flying against a never ending armada of space ships big and small, hurling themselves in your general direction. Its an accessible easy to play shooter.
What do I mean by mono-shot? You only fire one projectile at a time, but the longer you wait between shots the more your charge meter builds up. You have three tiers to this meter, each will cause a progressively larger explosion with the final tier wiping half the screen with a giant explosion. Each chained explosion is smaller than the last until you get down to the smallest explosion.
Even the smallest explosion can take out a dozen enemies that run into it. Your projectiles aren’t any larger, just the explosions, so you need to use aim and timing to explode the most strategic enemy. Even if you miss, there are enough ships coming that you’re bound to hit someone else. Having to charge leads to a risk reward game play. Do you let the screen fill with enemies as you’re waiting or do you kill them one by one?
These explosions continue to kill enemies off screen that you haven’t seen yet and you won’t, because they’re dead. While they’re still exploding, it gives you a chance to recharge your shot. Thankfully the game doesn’t have you hold the button down to charge it.
Before I get more into the game, there’s a daunting problem that people including myself have when they start it. The game starts far over to the left of your screen. So you’ll have to open the program, hover your mouse over the icon in the task bar, wait for the program bubble to show up, right mouse click the bubble and move the game all the way to the right. This is a giant hurdle for people that the developer was kind enough to help me out with. The game only plays windowed and for me the resolution is stuck at 1900 x 560, but scrunched down to fit my 1360w x 768 monitor. Everything appears narrow and scrunched even if screen shots appear perfect. Its still a playable game, but this will impede many people.
Super Chain Crusher Horizon is a game with controls so simple that could have been an Atari 2600 game. I mean that as a compliment. You’ve got your joystick to move and a single button to shoot. Your space ship can move all over the screen. Its just that easy.
Behind your ship is a giant electrical wall that’s there to kill you and collect the trash like flypaper. This wall is the left side of the screen. Any enemies that you miss will pile up behind you making it more challenging as time goes on, because everything you touch will kill you. You’re forced to be ahead of the wall giving you less time to react and charge. It causes situations where you need to ponder, do you take out a ship that’s about to hit a wall or do you just save your charge for the next array?
There are no landscapes or tight passages, nothing will shoot at you, but the enemies themselves are the obstacles. Destroyable obstacles of course. There are several different types of enemies, ones that fly in wavy chains. Others that seek you out. Some that act like slow moving fodder, preventing you from using a first tier shot from chaining explosions. Others that fly in brief straight lines, then make a 90 degree turn as they head toward you.
Soon the enemies build up and there are faster moving foes that bounce off the top and bottom of the screen to add pressure to that electrical wall behind you. Larger ships that are just as easy to destroy as the smaller ones, but they’re ultimately faster. All the enemies have red jet streams and some rotate so it looks like a beautiful ribbon trailing behind them.
There are carrier vessels that spawn enemies. Some are destroyable, others just drift off after a certain amount of time. The destroyable vessels can double as mini bosses. You can’t shoot them, because their hulls are too thick, instead you need to chain an explosion into them. They can’t be small first tier explosions, they need to be larger to get to the core. All the bosses are like this no matter what they are. Bigger bosses have thicker hulls with smaller cores.
The bosses don’t feel too aggressive except for the biggest one that will fly straight at you with your only safe place being a tiny gap between it and the electrical wall. The further you go in the game, the more enemies these bosses will have to accompany them. Fast bouncers, blockers and so on. Everything to make sure your shot isn’t charged.
As a game, its levels go in waves. Each wave takes place outside of a different planet, so you start at Earth and on the second wave you’re flying by the moon, then Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and so on. After seven waves you’re back at earth again and the challenge has gotten increased. Each wave lasts about 3 minutes. From looking at the achievements there are 100 waves and in 5 hours I made it to wave 30, so you’re looking at a real time investment if you’re out to complete the game.
The graphics look spot on. The planets and space backgrounds are gorgeous to look at as they scroll by. The sound is spot on for an arcade space shooter, and there’s some light techno-trance music in the background.
Super Chain Crusher Horizon is never a difficult game. There are hairy moments when the screen fills with enemies, but it feels almost too easy. I had to get two hours in before I even felt like the game was challenging me. Even the later waves I could still get through without dying. Is that a bad thing? You get a lot of play time for your life. That’s what it takes to get you into a game.
After every death, you can restart the wave. Your progress is auto saved and you can replay any wave that you’ve played. Because SCCH only increases the difficulty by the slightest increment, it doesn’t feel like I’m progressing that much. At least on wave 10 faster silver enemies were unlocked, but by wave 30 there wasn’t anything new or fresh. Just more ships. When you continue the game all those dead ships on the electrical field are cleared away, so its very possible to complete all 100 waves if you invest the time.
There is a second ship that you can play as, but it doesn’t allow you to charge. It allows for multiple projectiles on screen at once. There’s a balance to that; for every projectile that you fire with this ship or otherwise, it pushes you back ever so slightly. So if you go crazy shooting, you’ll eat the electrical field and die.
Aside from the main game, there are special missions. The first is a suicide mission where you have no bullets, your only hope is to survive enemies by dodging them. Originally I thought the object was to ram a ship, cause a chain reaction exploding the core of a carrier then onto the next level. Nope. Then there’s time attack where you see how high of a score you can get, but I think its flawed because there doesn’t seem to be a way to get extra time to prolong the experience. Next up is a high speed attack mode that forces you into the alternate space ship with much faster enemies. Its fun and more challenging than the real game. Finally, there’s a fourth mode, but after 5 hours, I haven’t unlocked it.
The game could get enhanced with high scores and leader boards. Different waves need to have color changes to enemies so I feel like I’m progressing somewhere other than the change of background. In a game that might be 15+ hours long, it needs unlockable ships even if they play the same.
With everything said, I think the things holding this back are the start up problem and how long it takes before it gets challenging. Perhaps a skip ahead to wave 21 would help alleviate that. I’d also like to thank Micky for giving me the game.