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Clash Force (PC) artwork

Clash Force (PC) review


"Undeniably fun while it lasts."


Clash Force is equal parts fantastic, severely limited, and Mega Man-esque. The game looks and controls somewhere between the classic 8-bit series entries and the subsequent Mega Man X games on the Super Nintendo. As one of three brave and colourful heroes sporting the head of a zoo animal and an angry sneer, youíll take on 21 levels of pure retro goodness on your quest to stop The Evil Crackman. Despite the Mega Man comparisons, the gameplay here is very stripped down; there are no weapons to steal from waylaid bosses, no slide, no Rush. Simply the most basic, familiar ingredients: mine carts, lava filled areas, water themed levels, turrets in tricky spots, bomb dropping foes providing air support, spikes and moving platforms.

So weíve established that Clash Force does essentially nothing new, and is in fact a step backward in many ways when compared to much older games of the same ilk. And yet, it just feels good to play. For old school gamers it will seem straightforward to a fault and youíll likely beat it during your first sitting, but thankfully, a hard difficulty level is offered that will feel a lot more like the games Clash Force is patterned after. And it would seem to me that the regular difficulty level could act as a kind of entry level, Intro to Retro Sidescrollers for the Uninitiated who want to give these throwbacks to old relics a try before daring to actually take on some of those relics themselves.

There are nearly two dozen stages of fast-paced, unconscious and in-the-zone run-and-gun action, and you're furnished a decent selection of weapons with which to ply your trade; the guns vary chiefly on the width of their spread pattern, and accordingly, their range. The music is often a sensational tribute to the era, and occasionally, simply perfunctory and uninspired. But when Clash Force gets to firing on all cylinders with a particularly good track singing in the background while you juke and jive to dodge incoming fire and leap from platform to platform taking out all manner of cutesy robotic menace, itís an incredibly fun way to kill a half hour or so.

And therein also lies the only true issue I have with the game: itís too short. The developers made a game thatís about as deep as its most shallow precursors, but without the punishing difficulty to prolong the experience through the usual interminable retro loop of dying and retrying. Worse yet, the game saves after each level, so should you play poorly and/or seldom, itís far too easy to give it another go (youíre provided with unlimited tries), whether right away or a week or month from now and resume what is essentially smooth sailing to your inevitable date with the end boss and subsequent credits.

It felt strange playing Clash Force directly after putting aside the ego-crushing-cum-chest-expanding masterclass of 2D gaming that is Cuphead; the saved progress and unlimited tries were crucial to success in that game. Here, not so much. As an intro to shooters, Clash Force serves a useful purpose; as a charming, easy to pick-up-and-play ode to games of yesteryear, it is successful but only fleetingly so. I fear that its simplicity will relegate it to the realm of the disposable, no matter how mawkish your retro gaming sensibilities, and thatís sort of a shame.

3/5

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (October 25, 2017)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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honestgamer posted October 25, 2017:

This sounds like something I should play, based on your description, and I'm not so concerned by the length or the low difficulty if the price is right. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!
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Masters posted October 29, 2017:

Yes, Jason, if your characterization of your own skills is accurate, this is one you'd definitely like. Glad the review helped.

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