Akka Arrh review for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Xbox, PC

Platform: Switch
Also on: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X, Xbox One
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Llamasoft
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

The story behind Akka Arrh is kind of more interesting than the game itself. It was originally created back in the early ?80s as an arcade game, only to be scrapped after a few cabinets had been made and sent out into the wild. It was included in last year?s Atari 50 compilation, and now it?s been recreated by legendary game designer Jeff Minter, AKA Llamasoft. WIth a journey like that, the game almost seems secondary.

Of course, the answer to ?Should I play Akka Arrh?? can be found in that last paragraph: did the words ?Atari,? ?arcade game,? and ?Jeff Minter? in such close proximity set off fireworks in your brain — say, much like a game created by Minter? Then this is something you need to play immediately, and no further explanations should be required.

And if you don?t know about Minter, then just look at the screenshots included in this review. I mean, the game in action is much more frenetic, but if you?re into psychedelic arcade shooters, then Minter — who also created games like Tempest 4000 and TxK — is someone you absolutely need to know, and Akka Arrh is a game you must play.

Mind you, it?s not without its…quirks, let?s say. For one thing, the default controls are bizarre, as the game tries to impose one-button gameplay on you. Even if that minimalism is in line with how the game is played (and more on that in a second), it feels weird to use one button for both bombs and single shots, and you need to go into the settings and change it so that the gameplay makes a little more sense.

On top of that, Akka Arrh?s gameplay is kind of counterintuitive. With spaceships attacking from all directions, your default reaction is probably to open fire ? but in this case, that?s precisely the wrong thing to do. Akka Arrh wants you to fire one bomb, explode it at just the right time, and set off a chain reaction of explosions that takes out everything around you. It feels kind of wrong to go against your instincts, but if you play with just a tiny bit of patience, you?re soon rewarded with insane combos that take up the entire screen.

To be sure, Akka Arrh is a niche game: to enjoy it, you not only need to enjoy old school arcade shooters, you also need to enjoy Llamasoft?s specific brand of psychedelic weirdness on top of that, as well as the weird idiosyncrasies in the game design. But if all of that appeals to you ? and to be honest, it appeals to me way more than I thought possible ? then the good news is that Akka Arrh exists, and it?s pretty fun.

Atari provided us with an Akka Arrh Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B+