When I go to the movies, I’m not always going for an arthouse classic that’s been nominated for seventeen academy awards including ‘Best Screenplay Written by an Eccentric Nobleman from Guncestanshire’. Sometimes all I want to see is fast cars defying gravity with muscle men shouting off about whose family is better than the others. The same can be said for video games. I don’t always want to spend fifteen hours walking through a vast forest looking for a piece of treasure that will lead to a key that saves the world. Sometimes I want to hold down a button and make pixels explode into smaller pixels. Can you guess which camp Cake Invaders is going to fall into?
At A Glance
|Positives||+ Basic concept and well executed|
+ Extremely fun, a true guilty pleasure
+ Simple controls
|Negatives||– Extremely limited gameplay|
– Music is awfully repetitive
– Leaderboards locked to the console type
|Price (When Reviewed)||£4.99|
|Our Playtime||2 hours|
|Available On||PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4|
Cake Invaders was created by Japanese indie developers Zoo Corporation and published by eastasiasoft; it features alien forces invading a spaceship because it is carrying a lot of Baumkuchen cakes, a German delicacy that are popular in Japan. I was given one mission – to stand on the bow of the ship and shoot everything that moves with a minigun as wave after wave of creatures try to steal the tasty treats.
That’s pretty much Cake Invaders in a nutshell. There’s no big sprawling world to discover and there’s no quests to be discovered by shooting a secret part of the screen. I was one character who was rooted to the spot and all I had to do was aim a minigun and fire at wave after wave of enemies until I either got bored or the baddies pinched all of my cake. If you think of Space Invaders, but instead of the tank zipping from left to right, you were the central defence that everyone always shot through, then you have a pretty good idea of how this game plays, and despite how limited this seems, I absolutely loved it!
While I was blasting away at the enemies, there was a tiny rainbow circle filling up on the bottom left of the screen and when the icon was complete, a random powerup shot into the sky. These ranged from more powerful weapons, albeit with limited ammunition, to a faster rate of fire. Because the rate of fire was so high to begin with, these more powerful lasers and exploding rounds didn’t last long and were rather useless; a time limit on the bonuses rather than an ammo limit would have made the action even more hectic, and in keeping with the standard gun having infinite ammo.
The best power-up comes in the form of an extra teammate. Much like your woman standing in the middle of the ship, they are also stuck to one of four predetermined spots on the ship. As I moved the control stick to aim, the rounds all converged on one point on the screen. When there are two characters firing at the same time the alien cake snatchers get shot down quickly, but unlocking all four additional crew means there is no hope for anyone, as bullets spray the screen like a blender without a lid on.
I thought such a simple concept of standing still and shooting aliens would get boring fast but Cake Invaders is surprisingly engaging and the run time is as long or as little as you make it. There might only be one infinite round, but the controls are snappy and responsive and when I got stuck into a flow, the waves seemed to wash by. Once the wave was complete and my score had been totted up it was onto the next one, where I’d check the stat box on the left of the screen to see how many enemies were trying to sneak my cake, like Nigella Lawson looking for treats at three in the morning, and then just blast away. And every five rounds was met with a special “Here comes the Gold Guys” stage, in which hundreds of yellow, fish-like aliens swim from left to right in a free-for-all. In this stage I simply had to blast away, and without any real danger of them nabbing my precious food, I could power up for the next onslaught which gets tougher and tougher the longer the game goes on. When the Baumkuchen eventually crumbles it’s game over and the final score is sent to the leaderboard.
This leaderboard is the only multiplayer element to Cake Invaders, as all there is to do is beat each other’s scores, although it looks to be tied specifically to the platform you played on. The game came with both PS4 and PS5 versions and I couldn’t see my previous scores when I booted up the second version of the game. It would have been nice to have a fully fledged 2 player mode with two people manically trying to mow down everything for a high score, but in fairness, I was quite content with just protecting my dessert.
Stylistically, Cake Invaders is a 2D 16-Bit-inspired game with cute chibi characters running along the bottom of the screen, and distinctive enemies that crash down from all directions to grab a piece of that sweet dessert. Each enemy is rather well designed, taking inspiration from various fish, bugs and arachnids and with a fixed stare on those sweet, sweet treats. The music is equally retro-inspired, with a chip-tune aesthetic that part of me really enjoyed but as the waves of enemies rolled on, I grew to hate. Overall in the style department Cake Invaders isn’t going to win The Great British Bake Off with its rough around the edges look and runny musical icing, but when the filling tastes this nice, this homemade affair is something even Paul Hollywood couldn’t resist giving a handshake to.
Cake Invaders was a rather fun time, and in the couple of hours I’ve put into it so far, blasting wave after wave of enemies didn’t get as stale as I thought it would. The graphics are cute, the music is just repetitive enough to be annoying, yet forgettable, and the price point is absolutely spot on for the amount of game you are getting. Yes, a multiplayer mode would have been nice, but the charm, accessibility, and simplicity of Cake Invaders meant I just wanted to try to beat my own score. The fact that Cake Invaders boils down to moving the analogue stick slightly while holding a button to fire does limit how high I can score the game, but I will say if you’re looking for dumb fun where all you want to do is blast some aliens then I’d highly recommend Cake Invaders; heck, right after I’ve finished this sentence I’m going to find a Baumkuchen cake and go back for seconds.
In the interest of full disclosure, the publisher provided VGamingNews with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.