Akka Arrh Review | A modern take on the Atari arcade prototype with plenty of psychedelic visuals and classic arcade audio – this wave shooter, Akka Arrh, certainly keeps you pleasantly addicted to its fast-paced gameplay. Your mission is to battle away waves of enemies using the bullet and bomb weapons you have at your disposal while staying stationary in the centre of the screen and creating the maximum possible combo you can achieve. A pretty simple concept that had me glued to my television screen, Akka Arrh took me back to the arcade days but in the comfort of my own home. Developed by Llamasoft and published by Atari, this classic-made-modern title has brought the joy of retro gaming back into the modern age.
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series S | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Classic made modern | Not everyone will know this by Akka Arrh, although a strange name, was once a 1980s prototype that didn’t quite make the catch. Now it has been brought into the modern day and age which many will appreciate as it has been recreated to appeal to multiple audiences while keeping in theme with the original idea. By bringing it to us over thirty-plus years later, people who remember the pure joy of arcade shooters and even those who aren’t too familiar with the genre can become engrossed in pure chaos. I’m happy to see it has been brought back to life.
- Helpful tutorial | Included within Akka Arrh was a great tutorial which explained all the fundamental and additional features that would be present. It taught me exactly what the game wanted from me and how to achieve the best possible experience using the mechanics in the correct way. It wasn’t overbearing and used multiple levels to teach each aspect separately and that made it far easier than packing everything in at once. It gave me a chance to breathe and take in the information at a gradual pace. I’m thankful to the developers for this well-created tutorial.
- Fast-paced action | Your sole job during Akka Arrh, which is actually the name of the incredible star cannon, is to defend yourself again any incoming enemies by using reactive bombs with B and flurries of bullets with A and your analogue stick. Combined with the fixed sentinel, you always need to keep a look-out in your immediate surroundings as you must protect your life pods from being stolen also. You will learn quickly that you shouldn’t just be free-firing every second though as this will affect your chain counter. The idea is to use minimal but well-aimed bombs to create a shockwave in which enemies are destroyed when they are hit by them and then bullets to clear up any straggling enemies as they do not affect your chain. Each new bomb will reset your chain so I had to use them wisely.
- Difficulty options | Yes, there is the choice between normal and hard difficulty for those who want to push themselves that bit further. Let’s be honest – it’s always nice to have that choice in video games, even if you don’t want to torture yourself with it. It gives Akka Arrh more replayability and with the achievement list requiring you to complete the game on hard difficulty, completionists will be required to test their skills even further. Personally, I didn’t feel comfortable playing on hard yet (the completion will have to wait) but I’m hopeful that once I’ve mastered normal difficulty, I’ll be ready to test myself.
- Quality audio | The absolute nostalgia when it came to the sound effects and music in Akka Arrh was incredible. The sound effects especially reminded me of walking into an arcade and hearing all the sounds that you knew were coming from various machines. It just screamed fun to me. There are numerous melodies in Akka Arrh to suit the gameplay perfectly; a couple of calm moments are then brought to life with faster music. I will mention there are a couple of odd sound effects that felt quite out of place but I was able to look past them as the positives far outweigh the negatives. I’m really glad the developers used this style of sound effects as it keeps in check with the retro atmosphere.
- Psychedelic visualisation | If you’re looking for a game to catch your attention with its visuals alone and truly give your eyes multiple sights to behold, you need look no further than Akka Arrh. The bright, bold, and excentric colouring that radiates across your screen throughout the game is mind-blowing and impossible to miss. Although I loved the colour and vibrancy because it took the gameplay to a whole nother level, I did find issues with them giving me headaches on multiple occasions, making it incredibly hard to continue playing. I had to play over multiple sessions even though I was addicted to the gameplay which was a shame but I wouldn’t let myself stop playing – so long as I took breaks occasionally. I should also mention there are two modes that subdue the visual effects which helped dramatically.
- Score or survival | Now, I did have a certain ‘gripe’ with Akka Arrh and that was trying to hold back my desire to just blast everything on the screen and create pretty patterns instead of building up my chain like the game wanted me to. I enjoyed the moments when I had to take my time and think about where I wanted to place my bombs but sometimes the game just made this impossible to do with the influx of enemies that flooded my screen. It almost felt more exciting when there were slower sections as opposed to the hectic screens that consumed the majority of the game. It became harder and harder to do both at once which had me torn on the enjoyment factor a little.
- Defending your lives | Although most of the gameplay is on one level, there is another ‘hidden’ level called downstairs where your lives are stored and something those pesky enemies manage to intrude on this sacred level in an attempt to steal your lives away. This means you have to occasionally switch your placement from the main area in order to fend off these enemies to keep your lives safe. Now, I will say that I liked the idea at first but it quickly became quite a pointless feature to have in the game. Surely you should just have to protect your sentinel from any incoming damage otherwise you lose lives? It just felt like the developers tried something different here and it didn’t work out.
What we Disliked
- Balancing issues | Although the tutorial was a fantastic starting point and teaches you how to tackle the gameplay, the game does leave you alone quicker than I would have thought to fend for yourself. It’s kind of like being slowly taught every detail over multiple levels and being expected to instantly put it all into practice immediately afterwards. I just think this could have been friendlier to those, like myself, who struggle to remember every mechanic and need that extra bit of time to grow accustomed to what is required of me. This might seem like a minor point but I honestly feel I would have enjoyed everything more if it could have been stretched perhaps over more levels. Nothing wrong with more content right? And those who find it too easy can just blast through.
- Can be too intense | Somewhat going back to the visuals, Akka Arrh is a game I just found gave me more unpleasant side effects than I would have hoped for, even with the dynamic colour effects turned off. This mixed with some of the more difficult levels, and I know everyone has their own definition of difficult, just wasn’t doing me much good. I found myself only being able to play for very small increments of time before I needed a break from my TV screen. It’s a shame that there aren’t more accessibility options available as I believe this could have done wonders for those of us who do struggle with such intense graphics/effects. I understand it’s supposed to be an arcade title but it could have been modernised further.
- Main menu navigation | I was oddly confused with exactly how to use the main menu. I discovered there is level selection after you complete each level and with 50 unique levels, this can be good for you to use to either practice specific levels for the harder difficulty or if you would like to fight from beginning to end; one achievement relates to this. I did think however that it has been poorly laid out though. This is because it stated pure mode and classic mode but gave no indication as to what this meant. It also wasn’t made straightforward to know what to select. This could have been made far clearer as I feel even arcade machines are easier to understand than this was.
How long to beat the story | Approximately 6-8 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 15-20 Hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Centipede: Recharged, Space Moth Lunar Edition, Yars: Recharged – Pretty much any arcade shooters!
As a whole package, Akka Arrh brings retro gaming to the present day in such a way that keeps its original charm intact. It’s pure wave shooting chaos that does have some strategy involved if you want to aim for that high score but keep in mind the psychedelic visuals and quick gameplay as they may become quickly overwhelming for some. Some elements could have been smoothed out further for an improved experience but as arcade shooters go, it’s a pretty solid game for a mixture of people to enjoy.
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Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember; back on DreamCast. I’ve pretty much fallen for Xbox since I was around eight years old and remember BioShock being my first game on the Xbox360. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds that sometimes differ greatly from what we know. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievement hunting and gamerscore. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on the screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my backlog when possible. Horror is my favourite genre so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to send them my way!