We’ll be completely honest – we had no idea what was going on in top down shooter Akka Arrh at first. Like…not a clue. There was movement, light effects, bizarre sounds – yet none of it made a lick of sense to us.
This was to be expected from developer Jeff Minter and Llamasoft though. The man behind Tempest 2000 and Revenge of the Mutant Camels was never going to create something straightforward.
Even the game’s origins aren’t simple. It’s a reimagining of an Atari coin-op arcade game that was never actually released to the public, and it’s not hard to see why it may have been a hard sell amongst the other cabinets around at the time.
It’s loosely related to many titles including Missile Command and Robotron: 2084. You control a turret in the middle of a small platform, and must fire bombs at enemies who can at best be described as, er, vague shapes.
Once one enemy explodes they create a secondary blast that slowly expands out in a circular radius – with the aim being to chain these explosions together.
Larger foes can’t be destroyed by your bombs though, but can be with the bullets you get every time you take out a minor enemy.
You’re not technically controlling the turret however, but merely the cursor that aims the bombs.
Another element that really confused us at first is that you’re placed on top of a lift – with a basement area that resides at the bottom. This is where your health is kept. If you do end up in this section you’re allowed to unleash a short range rapid-fire gun.
Levels have different objectives and tasks to complete, but Akka Arrh is ultimately a real mixed bag. There are times when it flows wonderfully, and you complete a massive almost never ending combo. Then times where you feel lost, a little bewildered, and ultimately frustrated.
It never feels as tightly designed as it should, and pales in comparison to other classic Minter works such as Tempest 2000.
Akka Arrh is worth investigating for hardcore shooter fans of course – it has a lot of visual appeal and is certainly something different. Everyone else may want to consider if they can truly handle this eclectic neon fever dream.