Review: Crazy Steam Bros 2, a steampunk shoot ’em up

Review: Crazy Steam Bros 2, a steampunk shoot ’em up

Platforms: Steam, Windows PC

Game Name: Crazy Steam Bros 2

Publisher: Ars Creativa

Developer: Ars Creativa

Genre: Shoot 'Em Up

Release Date: April 2, 2015

Crazy Steam Bros 2 – What We Think:

What makes shoot ’em up games so difficult? I’ve always lamented that they are purposefully designed to test a player’s patience and reflexes in the face of overwhelming odds – odds which are often literally manifested as an exuberant amount of enemies and enemy projectiles.

When shoot ’em up games are difficult because of loose controls, it unfortunately becomes an unpleasantly frustrating experience. Sadly, Crazy Steam Bros 2 by Ars Creativa is a side-scrolling steampunk shoot ’em up that fits this description.

Steam Bros 2 screenshot - Tea Time

Anton and Dupont are brothers who happen to be inventors of some relatively high tech machinery. Even though their plane is steam-powered, they exist in an alternate reality where advanced sci-fi weaponry is commonplace.

Taking advantage of this reality, the evil Baron and his mustached soldiers threatens to bring chaos and destruction. It’s up to the crazy steam brothers with the help of their landlady, Miss Lily, to bring an end to the Baron’s reign.

Baron Von Barren

The narrative aspect of the game is sparse, which is common for the genre, but I found that there was some potential to expand upon the tale further; the story doesn’t really get more complex than a couple of slideshow between-level cut scenes, which don’t provide any hefty other than reiterating on the idea of stopping the Baron.

It’s a shame, because I thought the setup for the game and its setting was interesting enough on a basic level.

Side Scrollin’ Shmuppin’

As a horizontal side scrolling shoot ’em up game, Crazy Steam Bros. 2 is fairly standard, as far as design is concerned. Avoid enemy projectiles and collect power-ups along the way to help aid you.

The game does change things up, however, by giving you a regenerating health bar, which is useful and helps make the game more forgiving. Power-ups are also useful, but sadly they are strictly handed out every once in a while during levels.

Steam Bros 2 screenshot - Cityscape

The power-ups you can acquire are useful since they are about twice as powerful as your main weapon. Power-ups range from laser beams to auto-targeting electrical shock streams. There isn’t much variety or creativity as far as the power-ups themselves, which is unfortunate given the game’s setting. The power-ups don’t help make the moment to moment gameplay more engaging, either.

When you die, you lose all the power-ups you have accumulated up to that point and have to restart the level over again.

Scene It All Before

Levels themselves are very uninspired. Everything from the backgrounds to the enemies feel all too familiar. Backgrounds will involve standard locales but not take advantage of the game’s setting by offering something that fits well contextually. Whether it’s a standard jungle level or standard cave level, the game makes no attempt to create interesting backdrops.

Enemies feel familiar and range from stationary ones to projectile-firing enemies. Enemy designs don’t get a whole lot more creative than this, which is unfortunate, given the game’s quirky setting.

Without fun or interesting enemy designs, the game’s moment to moment gameplay starts to feel more like a chore. Even the bosses in this game are not fun to battle against.

Steam Bros 2 screenshot - Jungle

Dislike a Boss

The first boss, for example, was tedious and unexciting. It followed the same slow pattern of staying somewhere in the middle of the screen while firing projectiles at you. You eventually slowly pass it, then when the boss is behind you and off-screen, it lunges at you with its pincer claw. It’s a lot less exciting than it sounds. It was the first boss and already it felt as if the developers had ran out of ideas.

Shoot ’em ups are known for being difficult, but Crazy Steam Bros 2 makes things even more difficult thanks to its floaty and imprecise controls. Your ship will jump too much when you barely tap in any direction.

The lack of precise movement leaves a lot to be desired. You’ll do a lot of re-positioning your ship to align your projectiles so that it lines up to where it should far too often. The controls don’t feel accurate enough for a game in this genre.

Shoot ‘Em Roughly Upwards

The floaty controls don’t even help much in terms of avoiding enemy projectiles. Another more frustrating design decision of this game is that enemy projectiles will be either too small or blend into the background too much. I know that most of the time these types of games are designed to be challenging, but these issues seem more like poor design decisions than a ploy to make things more difficult.

Steam Bros 2 screenshot - Sunset

The presentation values are this game’s strongest aspects. Although the narrative is lacking, the game’s art style is well done and easy on the eyes. Backgrounds – though repetitive – look good, and enemy aircraft are highly detailed. Enemies don’t suffer from the same problems as their projectiles because they are brightly colored and stick out nicely.

The sounds in the game are passable but feel very muted and silent, which makes the game’s old fashioned, stylized musical score stick out more. Without these aspects, Crazy Steam Bros 2 would feel a lot less interesting to play.

All Out of Steam

Crazy Steam Bros 2 is a game with some neat ideas, but they are not implemented as well as they could have been. Its story could have been more engaging and its levels should have been more fun to play through. Its floaty controls, however, are what will turn a lot of people off.

The foundation for a better, more enjoyable game is there if it’s worked on a bit more, but where it stands as of right now, I’d recommend spending your time on another more compelling shoot ’em up experience.

Crazy Steam Bros 2 – Official Site

Get Crazy Steam Bros 2 on Steam

Watch the trailer for Crazy Steam Bros 2: