When it comes to arcade games, nothing compares to UFO Catchers (AKA Claw Machines). Super UFO Fighter is a bizarre twist on the arcade experience, and it pins two players against each other in a race to find the hidden item and claim it as your own. This is equal parts competitive, random, and hilarious, and it is definitely an entertaining party game.
So does Super UFO Catcher drop all the right prizes into your lap? Or is this claw machine a rip-off? Let’s find out!
Super UFO Catcher is quite the unconventional competitive title. Essentially, you have two players (Or one player versus CPU) pinned against each other, and the goal of the game is to break open capsules with your attack button in search of the key item. The two players will then use their attacks and tractor beams to try and obtain control of the key item and drop it into their goal. This is the basic gameplay of Target Battle, which is the heart and soul of Super UFO Catcher.
There is a lot of game here, actually. In this affordable package, you have local competitive modes in Target Battle and Hot Potato (Another game style) that can be played by up to two players locally, and you also have Online mode where you can compete with people online in both friendly matches and Ranked matches. Finally, there is Campaign mode, which is a series of chapters that you can play that has its own fun little story to further introduce you to the characters of the game. It is also within Campaign mode where you can unlock more characters with unique abilities, which we will get into later.
Campaign mode is a lovely addition to the overall experience, as it is something the player can enjoy when they do not have people around to play with. It is essential, too, in that it serves to unlock more content for the game, making extended gameplay even more fun and entertaining. Each of the characters are a riot and have super-fun and unique personalities, and the way they are designed, especially in the lovely pixel graphics, is adorable beyond measure and a joy to watch as they interact within the story.
Target Battle in Super UFO Fighter is where things get a bit too chaotic and random for my liking. That doesn’t mean it is not fun, but luck plays a major roll at times because of the randomness of the capsules. You see, the hidden/key item is inside a capsule, and it could be the very first capsule to drop or the 50th. On top of that, how the capsule lands can be either an extreme advantage or disadvantage to the player. For example: two players are fighting in the middle as a capsule is dropping, and the capsule bounces over to a player’s goal. Well, that capsule can very likely contain the key item, and breaking the capsule over the goal will result in almost a guaranteed point, as items drop right out of the capsule.
In the middle of each stage, there are two shoots that transfer falling items to the opposite side of the screen (See image above). If items fall into the right shoot, they will return to the stage from the upper left (And vice-versa). This also plays an important roll in gameplay, as using the shoots to your advantage is the difference between an easy win and getting crushed. You almost want the key item to fall into the shoot next to your opponent’s goal so that it falls near your goal. You can then zip across the screen and try to bump the item towards your goal for an easy point, but remember, you have an opponent that wants to do the same. No only does your attack break open capsules, but it also stuns your opponent. Using stuns is incredibly important, and balancing an offensive and defensive strategy is a must.
There are also power-ups that add things to the mix, but this often feeds into the chaotic feel of the game. Similar to items being turned on in Smash Bros, power-ups in Super UFO Fighter can create more crazy scenarios that can make situations funny or frustrating, and it is hard for it to not feel like either of those. Since rounds and games can end in a flash, any kind of major restriction feels like too much of a handicap, and since Super UFO Fighter already has a lot going on, the power-ups just feel like overkill, in my opinion.
One last balancing issue happens to be the characters themselves. Each of them are unique in their speed, attack, and their tractor beam, and unfortunately, speed is not all that important, which hurts a couple characters. I noticed over time that a strong attack is vital, so there are certain characters with strong attacks that serve to be much more useful in competitive play than the others. This is unfortunate, because although each of the characters are fun and charming, they are not all created equal for the actual gameplay.
Something Super UFO Fighter does really well is its overall presentation and lovely pixel graphics. Each of the characters are wonderfully designed and super-cute, while the stages are bright, colorful, and busy in a fun way. The main menu is also well-designed and brimming with personality, and I think that sentiment goes for the entire game. This may be an unconventional competitive title, but there is this uniqueness and charm about it that oozes through its designs and graphical choices.
What I am not a fan of, though, is the sound. While the soundtrack is not bad (Actually, I rather enjoyed it!), the sound effects are so loud and aggressive that it can be grating. The horns, particularly, are overdone, and they sound like they belong at a frat party. I would have expected a bit more of a game center/arcade feel in the area, but instead we get something of a high school or college party vibe, which honestly feels weird.
Super UFO Fighter is a weird one for me to score, because I do enjoy it. This is a fun and interesting competitive game that does offer a decent amount of content for an incredibly affordable price. However, it is hard to overlook the balancing issues and the extreme dependency on luck, and while Target Battle is the bread-and-butter of the game, Hot Potato feels like it is lacking something. Honestly, it just feels like a couple things are missing to help make some of the other characters more relevant as well.
This is a riot, and the campaign is a lot of fun! I just wish some things were more fine-tuned and that the characters all felt equally good. As it stands now, it does just feel too random and unbalanced to get a solid recommendation, but at the same time, it is cheap enough to host an entertaining weekend with friends.
Hopefully VV-LABO will update Super UFO Fighter moving forward to correct some of these issues, and it will definitely be an easier pill to swallow if and when you can find it at a discounted price.
Fun and chaotic competitive gameplay
Lovely presentation and pixel graphics
Solid bang for your buck
Balancing issues with characters
Luck is too much of a factor
Some sound effects are brutal
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.