In Super Turbo Demon Busters! you assume command of a team of mercenaries accidentally stranded on the most dangerous planet in the universe, inhabited by almost every conceivable monster – and worse, it’s only a matter of time before your squad is transformed to join their ranks…
Luckily, your team is well equipped to deal with the assembled hordes of evil, armed with rocket launchers, plasma rifles, machine guns, chainsaws, sharp sticks…well, OK, maybe not the sticks. But axes, at least.
Super Turbo Demon Busters! takes a lot of inspiration from the sci-fi and horror genres; particular stand-outs are Aliens and Doom, the latter being an especially obvious influence in the strikingly beautiful graphic style. Coupled with a classically tinny and perfectly fitting audio track, you feel like you could easily be playing Super Turbo Demon Busters! on a SNES.
There’s a glib, sarcastic humour that prevails through the plot – such as it is – that really suits the game, sharply capturing the spirit of late eighties, early nineties sci-fi pop culture. There’s almost a feel of Dungeon of the Endless about Super Turbo Demon Busters!, but with none of the more complex strategy.
Gameplay is relatively simple and split into a few different areas; there’s an overland map where you proceed on rails from one stage to another, interspersed with a few bonus missions that occasionally pop up; a team management screen, where you can purchase upgrades and dispatch your cargo ship to find supplies; and lastly, the bread and butter of STDB!, the stage maps, where you confront monsters to progress overland.
Each merc is gifted in a different way and wields a different weapon. All the usual suspects are here, from the sniper to the shotgun specialist. Each gets a bonus to attacking with a certain type of weapon, but can use any in your arsenal, which grows the more you explore.
Ammo, weapon drops and credits all spawn throughout stage exploration, but also appear more liberally in loot boxes that are typically awarded upon completion of a stage. The presence of these seems a little tagged-on, almost like there’s a looming threat of microtransactions in the game’s future, but at the time of writing, there’s no evidence of that.
Despite the appeal of the humour, it just feels as though there’s an entire chunk of game missing, mostly around the area of combat. Monsters that spawn on the stage map are defeated by attacking in a turn-based system. At the end of each turn health is deducted from all parties, and whoever runs out first, loses.
There are some quirks, like zombies that become invulnerable to weapons fire after a set number of turns, necessitating a switch to melee. But mostly, you just end up doing a lot of clicking, which is fine at first, but after a few hours it just gets a bit tiresome.
There is an element of skill involved, but not much of one; no particular approach seems to work better than another. Eventually you will just run into a room that is much harder than the others, and you’ll die. And as there’s no way to predict what one will appear, your choice of merc seems totally arbitrary.
Ultimately, STDB! boils down to being an ammo management game – upgrade a merc, spam it until your ammo runs low, and then switch to another. Rinse and repeat, lasting as long as you can against the endless hordes, enjoying a sarcastic comment or a pop culture reference or three along the way.
Super Turbo Demon Busters! is available on Steam – follow this link to find the official site.
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