Onion Assault is a new release from the creator of Gunman Clive that pays tribute to Super Mario Bros. 2 in the best way!
- Title: Onion Assault
- Release Date: January 26, 2023
- Price: $7.99
- Suggested Audience Age: Rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB
- Availability: Switch, Steam
- Recommended for fans of: The NES, Root Vegetables, and Bright Colors
Geek to Geek Media was provided with a review copy of this title.
I don't remember how I ended up with Gunman Clive on my 3DS but it ended up being a game that I always looked at and thought looked cool but never went back to play. Eventually, the Gunman Clive HD Collection came out on the Nintendo switch packaging both the gunman Clive and its sequel in one extraordinarily cheap package. With this, I finally dove into the games and found delightful old-school platformers with a run and gun feel.
Since then I've had an eye out for every game released by the creator, Bertil Hörberg. Mechstermination Force felt like hey Contra boss rush and Super Punch Patrol was a beat 'em up with an amazingly unique art style. The newest game from that studio is a project that is a bit reduced in scope from when the developer started working on it, but is still a really good throwback to 8-bit platforming, and especially to Super Mario Bros. 2.
What a Looker!
Before I get deep into the gameplay of Onion Assault, I've got to talk about how it looks. Art direction has been a strong suit of every game from this developer, but I think this might be my favorite version of their particular cartoony style. The characters have the same semi-blocky feel as Clive did, but the bright colors slapped on top bring things to life. Throw in the fact that everything in the game — from the characters to the coins to the clouds in the background — seems to be bouncy along to the beat of the music, and this feels like it brings the sensibility of NES Mario games up to a modern look phenomenally.
I actually like the look of this more than I like the look of modern Mario games.
Don't get me wrong, the New Super Mario Bros. games are incredibly slick and smooth, but there's a bit of charm that gets lost when they just look like a new game. While the blocky character designs in Onion Assault are absolutely 3D, they look like 3D versions of 8-bit sprites, rather than just being 3D.
The core gameplay loop of Onion Assault is remarkably simple. You play as a dude or his mom fighting back against the army that tried to overtake their onion farm (like you do). The game is made up of four worlds, and each world is made up of four levels. In each level, you've got a few lives to try to make it through a few checkpoints and finally reach the end of the stage. Along the way, you'll face a variety of enemies and platforming challenges that try to hold you back.
The biggest inspiration for the gameplay in Onion Assault is clearly the oft-maligned Super Mario Bros. 2. That weird oddity is nowhere near my favorite Mario game, but it was one I played loads of as a kid, and I've never gotten over how fun and weird the “pull a vegetable out of the ground and chuck it at bad guys” game design was. With that in mind, I feel like Onion Assault was made for me. Aside from jumping, picking up whatever you are standing on and throwing it is the only way you interact with this game.
Sure, at the most basic level that means you defeat enemies by throwing onions at them, but it's so much more than that. You can jump on a tank and then lift it over your head so that you can carry it around like a rocket launcher blasting enemies. If there's a particularly dangerous gap to cross you can just stand on top of an enemy and let them take you to safety. When you find one of a stage's three hidden coins just out of reach, you can pick up snow and chuck it underneath to build yourself a mound to stand on!
Onion Assault is in a weird place for me. I am a little over halfway through the game and so far I adore it. It's a weird design with a weird story and level design that's sometimes a bit uneven, but it also makes me grin like an idiot when I play it. This isn't a perfect game, but it's a delightful one that makes me happy, and isn't that what games should do?