Mars: Chaos Menace
Switch version tested
Review code provided
Through technological advances, humanity has begun transforming previously inhospitable and hostile planets into clean slates ready for colonisation. This, however, attracted monstrous alien life forms hell-bent on reverting the old state of these planets, bringing nothing but destruction.
Mars Chaos Menace is a shoot’em up by Badland Publishing that puts you in charge of defending Mars before it inevitably becomes nothing more than a fiery hellhole headed straight for Earth.
The game lets you choose between two colour schemes for the main character, which will determine what kind of bullets you will shoot. Hero 1 has a straight forward linear shot, while hero 2’s bullets fan out as if armed with a spray can. Difficulties range between easy, normal and hard across 8 sectors of the planet, each ending with a unique boss battle. Controls are simple. Players can freely move around the screen while avoiding enemies that emerge from all sides using the joystick. You can shoot forward or backwards unlimitedly by holding down Y or B, respectively. The key mechanics here are the shield and laser beam, activated from the left and right bumpers. The shield can eat some damage, but will require time to recharge if too much damage is taken. The laser beam will overheat if used too much at one time, and requires a cool down time before being able to activate again. If you plan to survive this game, you’ll use both of these all the time, as the laser beam is far more powerful than the regular shot, and the shield will be the only way to survive the waves and waves of bullets and enemies on screen. You’ll also have a “special shot”, which cleans up the screen when available. It would have been nice to see more weapons to spice it up, but you’re stuck with only these throughout the game.
Regular enemies aren’t very diverse, some being stationary firing different types of bullets, while others move erratically, sometimes becoming kamikazes. You’ll have to frantically dodge and shield yourself in order to survive each level, as one hit will kill you, and after three lives are spent its game over. Enemies spawn from all sides of the screen, usually leaving no reaction time to avoid. This forces players to have to memorize levels if you want to avoid losing a life. On top of this, the player is noticeably slow so dodging just won’t be an easy task.
Bosses are met at the end of each level, and they are ridiculously hard. It becomes almost impossible to avoid being hit, so the best bet of winning is taking it out as quickly as possible, which is already limited due to the recharge rate of the laser. If I didn’t make it to the boss with all three lives, I was almost guaranteed to have to start the level over from the beginning. Luckily, the levels are fairly short experiences, and you’re able to pick up power-ups by destroying towers that give you extra little robots to add more range to your attacks. Even with the extra help, the screen is usually cluttered with enemies, attacks, or just the rendered objects in the background. It quickly becomes a frustrating mess.
On the bright side, the levels look good in the 3D style. There is a wide range of environments such as beaches, jungles and snowy mountains. This is a game set on a terraformed Mars, but you’d forget you are supposedly on Mars if not for the title of the game. Musically, the levels are poorly paired. The soundtrack lacks diversity, with the boss battle theme being a welcomed and enjoyable change of pace. Overall it becomes repetitive, and the game is best played on mute.
Mars Chaos Menace is a frustrating and overly difficult experience with no rewarding motivator to keep at it. Although visually pleasing, the gameplay comes up short and feels like a chore. I will not be revisiting the game anytime soon, and advise to leave it on the eShop.
TBG Score: 4/10
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 16/11/2018
No. of Players: 1
Category: Shooter, Action, Arcade
Download link: eShop