Review - XBLA - Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon

I will openly admit that before playing this game, I had never heard of the TV series Ugly Americans, let alone known that there was an Xbox Live Arcade title based upon it, but playing as a 500+ year old alcoholic wizard who’s special attack is to turn into a blue lion and then physically explodes like a furry nuclear device, I realized I had found something far from ordinary with this title.

Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon is an Xbox Live Arcade title based on the Comedy Central TV show of the same name, if you have not seen this show I urge you to do so, not because you will understand the game more, rather because it’s actually a really good show!

Going into Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon I was unaware of what to expect. By the title alone, I was expecting a tongue in cheek arcade game possibly similar to the video game iterations of The Simpsons or Family Guy. What I got, however, was a laugh-out-loud fun-house of randomness coupled with an addictive twin stick shooter mechanic, which is ideal for multiplayer gaming sessions.

The world of Ugly Americans is a strange one.

To begin with, creatures such as Zombies, Vampires, Demons, Werewolves, Land Whales (yes, Land Whales) and Yetis are all commonplace and an established part of society’s history. Sprinkle this alternative universe with an Immigration/Social services department run by a demon with the daughter of Satan as his second in command, who has hired an over zealous Immigration officer, a bleeding heart human, and a 500 year old alcoholic wizard and you have a recipe for, well, I’m not quite sure, but it works!

As a game, Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon is your standard twin stick shooter with a well established multiplayer aspect which increases the amount of enemies you have on screen with each new player. There’s nothing wrong with being a standard twin stick shooter, personally. It’s a very popular mechanic and successful as long as it’s well framed and Ugly Americans is framed wonderfully!

Each of the four main characters has their own unique special ability and certain strengths and weaknesses. Callie, for example – the daughter of Satan – gets a higher maximum on her character movement speed than the other characters. Whereas Leonard, the alcoholic Wizard I mentioned earlier, gets a stronger magical damage stat because, ya know, he’s a Wizard!

You are also able to change your current weapon which you are using by visiting the characters place of work – The Department of Integration (D.O.I). The weapons you pick up during the game are your basic household items, baseballs, hammers, snowglobes, rubber chickens, all items that we have in our home. These projectiles serve to offer not only different stats against enemies, but also different flight paths and rates of fire forcing you to choose the right weapon for that specific level.

Another interesting feature you discover halfway through the game is the Orphanage. During one level, you are presented with a demonic baby that one of the players needs to carry. This specific baby bestows more strength upon that character, increasing the strength depending on how much health the character has lost whilst at the same time, giving them a lower maximum health. After this point, you have the opportunity to go back through the previous levels and collect different babies which all offer different positives and negatives to your stats. These pint-sized power-ups can be interchanged before every level, much like the characters’ weapons at the Orphanage.
The special abilities will be better understood if you have watched the TV series, but it doesn’t stop you from enjoying Leonard’s Disappearing Lion trick or Callie’s devastating Three Hole Opening attack.

The only real disappointment in Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon is the lack of a checkpoint system. I realize that some gamers won’t need a checkpoint system as the levels are relatively short in comparison to other side-scrolling action games. However, at the crucial moment at the end of a level, there is nothing that invokes gamer-rage like being taken out by the last group of enemies and having to restart the entire level again.

Whilst playing Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon on my own, I found it compelling, interesting and funny enough to continue playing. When you add more players into the mix, however, it becomes a hilarious and fun twin stick classic that even newcomers to the franchise will enjoy.