What is a Quadropus – just trying to take his pet starfish out for a leisurely walk – supposed to do when King Pete rises up from the abyssal depths, proclaiming that his army is poised to take over the entire world? Obviously it’s time for him to brandish whatever bludgeoning implement he can find, and then start bashing in the collective face of every last ne’er-do-well that comes looking for trouble. So goes the set up to the latest action packed Roguelike adventure from Butterscotch Shenanigans: Quadropus Rampage (out now, free), which feels like The Binding of Isaac when crossed with a Beat’em Up.
In order to save everyone from the probable doom that King Pete is bringing, our hero – named Tack – is going to have to pummel his way down through level after level of the abyssal deep. Clearing out all of the enemies on a section will open the safe portal to the next depth, and even drop a treasure chest filled to the gills with money and exp (and sometimes rare artifacts). Of course the quickest way to reach to the next section is to fall down an open chasm, but that does involve taking fall damage and not getting a valuable treasure chest along the way either.
Occasionally enemies will drop new bludgeoning implements upon their demise – complete with randomized stats and names – that you will have to decide to either keep or abandon, since Tack can only carry one whacking thingamabob at a time. Those names include odd titles such as “Smelly Lava-Sword with Coffee Stains” and “Gerrymandering Pistol Whip of Iowa” (which is – in fact – an actual pistol). I should point out that Tack doesn’t ever shoot the abyssal hordes with this gun, instead beating them senseless with the weapon’s handle (because actually firing a gun is such a silly notion).
At various points along the way – also randomly selected – Tack will get to meet Grubby, a merchant who will have either a single artifact or a super powerful weapon up for sale. If the player has enough money on hand – which can be accumulated across multiple sessions – then they can merrily march off with whatever Grubby is offering, but the functional purpose of an artifact won’t be listed unless it has previously been owned. You can – alternatively – instead choose to save your hard earned cash for after the level is over, for it’s at this point where one can make various purchases from the game’s store.
While any artifacts – weapons – or levels that Tack has gained will be completely lost upon his inevitable death, upgrades purchased at the end of level screen are permanent and carry across all future game sessions. These include incremental boosts to his stats and various abilities, as well as additional pets that he can bring into battle – of which two can be used on any given run – and also alternate appearances for them. While Quadropus Rampage never attempts to pressure players into doing otherwise, these can also be unlocked early via IAPs (either individually, or everything together for $20).
The other thing players can do from this menu is select which of their currently obtained mastery options they would like for Tack to equip on his next attempt to smash in Pete’s face. Unlocking a mastery is done by completing achievement esque activities – such as killing x many enemies via a specific method, or by performing a certain action x many times – after which it will remain permanently available. For each unlocked mastery there will be two different perks that can be equipped, with the player freely able to select which perk to use from each mastery before the beginning of every new game.
Obviously a game driven forward by this sort of constant pummeling action is going to need some very solid controls in order to succeed, and Quadropus Rampage certainly has this area covered. On the left side of the screen is a virtual analog joystick, permitting for full 360 degree control of where Tack goes, and also where he swings his current bludgeoning implement of choice. On the right side of the screen is a tightly clustered bunch of action buttons – generally a bad idea in most iOS titles, but here it manages to work to great success – which I will now take a moment to describe more fully.
The standard attack button can be used to rapidly slap about whatever abyssal creatures stand in Tack’s way, or unleash a powerful spin attack – that can hit many opponents at once – if the player lets the attack charge up before releasing the button. The dodge button lets Tack release a powerful stream of ink – permitting him to dodge attacks, or safely move across chasms – but will need to recharge after each and every use. Although avoiding damage will generally be the best option, there is also a defensive bubble that can be used to safely charge headlong into a fight (assumed it is currently charged up).
Finally is the smash attack button, which permits Tack to unleash all of his quadropus fury by leaping up into the air and then striking the ground to create a devastating shockwave of abyssal destruction. The power of this massive attack is affected by various factors: the stats of the currently equipped weapon, how many experience points Tack currently has, which perks are currently in use, and also certain permanent stat boosts. My favorite part of this attack is that it can sometimes – if timed correctly – be used to knock an abyssal creature straight off into a chasm, leading to instant victory by way of defenestration.
All of this has so far been said without even a single mention of the most powerful maneuver that Tack possesses: the ability to use his mighty fury to enter into his rage mode. While not easy to do – especially early on – taking out multiple enemies in quick succession will successfully fill up the rapidly decaying rage meter, with pure Quadropus Rampage being unleashed if it ever fills up. Although Tack is not invincible during this time, he does gain massive power and speed boosts with which to crush all the fools who would dare to interrupt his attempt to take his pets for a leisurely walk.
Anyways – gameplay matters aside – while Quadropus Rampage is nice enough looking, you often won’t have time to appreciate the humor of smacking enemies around with a frog when you’re desperately fighting to stay alive. However, what will probably leave far more of an impact on you are the many bizarre attempts that King Pete will make to dissuade Tack from finishing his fury driven quest. My personal favorite involves Pete proclaiming with admonishment, “Remember, Tack, violence is never the answer. Unless the question is ‘What is never the answer’? Then the answer is violence.”
While all of this would already have made for an easily recommendable Roguelike adventure, the fact that Quadropus Rampage – which contains only the mildest of IAPs – is being offered for free elevates it to the status of being a mobile gaming must. The inclusion of multiple difficulty settings, including an “Insane Mode” where taking even one hit means death, ensures that this adventure is one you’ll stay with for a long time. My only regret is that we weren’t able to review this title when it was actually new, thanks to Quadropus Rampage not being fully compatible with the ever increasingly less supported iPod Touch 4.
iFanzine Verdict: With compelling endless beat everything up action – completely uninvasive IAPs – and solid controls, Quadropus Rampage is one mobile Roguelike experience that will certainly please fans of the genre. Add in the fact that its 100% free, and contains fast paced gameplay that will equally please people both at work and home, and you have a package of perfect value that is a must download for all. One can only hope that Butterscotch Shenanigans will continue to bring mobile gamers everywhere such smashing value (unfortunately, their lead artist currently has cancer).