Have you ever wondered what would happen in the event of a vegetable apocalypse? You know, like a zombie apocalypse, but much healthier and with a lot more than 5 a day? Developer Still Running has obviously had this preying on their minds, as The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition features hordes of ambulatory fruit and veg, turned evil by aliens and set free to attack the human race. With a proper ‘80s, neon pixelated style running throughout, is it worth a blast or should it be be left to one side… like sprouts at Christmas?
Playing as a nameless hero, The Walking Vegetables is a twin stick shooter with a strong randomised element, leading to increased play time, as no run will be the same. Starting out with only a simple pistol to your name, albeit one with infinite ammo, defeating waves of Walking Veg will sometimes yield a chest containing an upgraded weapon, which of course needs a key to open. These keys will soon become more precious than diamonds, as not only do they open the chests and buildings you’ll find in the levels, but you can’t even access the in-game shop without one.
Luckily, each veg you take down must have just been to the cashpoint, as they drop coins upon expiring, which our hero can pick up to buy goodies from the aforementioned shop. Health packs, ammo, even new guns are available to purchase, but they are all rather pricey. Did I mention that the upgraded weapons you can collect all have limited ammo, and once it’s gone you need to find more in the various screens? No? Well, this is always entertaining, getting halfway through a boss fight and running out of ammo, having to resort to the trusty old pistol which seems to do as much damage as if it was firing hopes and dreams instead of hot lead.
The levels play out in a grid kind of style, and as you explore and take out bad guys, you’ll eventually be confronted by one of the alien overlords. If you succeed in taking him out, he’ll zoom away in his flying saucer and summon a portal to a boss. These guys are hard, as you’d expect. In fact, in the dictionary, under bullet sponge, there’s actually a picture of the Broccoliath, just one of the bosses you’ll face. Fighting these guys in a confined space, running around like a lunatic attempting to avoid being stomped into a pink paste, is where the game comes alive. The earlier levels are challenging, but with more space to run around and avoid the homicidal veg, it’s not as fraught as the small boss chambers. You’ll soon wish you had more than two eyes as you try to track the boss, his minions, and projectiles that are coming your way, while also not running into floor based hazards like Coco and Loco’s coconut milk that gets spewed (literally, this coconut tries to vomit on your head) everywhere.
Luckily, it is possible to recruit a second player to join in the mayhem, and this works well. Focusing fire on tougher enemies does make the game easier, there’s no doubt, but it’s a double edged sword. If one player dies, they are dead; there are no second chances in the Veggie Apocalypse. Also, the only difference between the player character models is a kind of glow they give off, with player one being pinkish and player two, of a blue hue. In the heat of battle, it’s very easy to get confused between who is who and death is the inevitable result.
Two players also help in the event that a portal to the Bonus Dimension spawns, which transports us to a very small arena to face increasingly difficult waves of enemies until you pop your clogs. A handy side effect of a trip to the Bonus Dimension is that dying isn’t the end of the game, instead you are respawned in the main level, with your health restored.
The graphical style works really well for the type of game this is; it looks as if The Walking Dead and Tron had a baby, which was then transported to the pixelated 1980s. It moves at a good speed, in both single and multiplayer, and even with bullets and veg flying everywhere, there is no hint of slowdown. The controls are as tight and responsive as you could wish for, and while they do the job perfectly, a few times I found myself wishing for a dodge button, or for the hero to be able to run to get out of danger. The sounds are fine as well, gunfire being all present and correct. Obviously I’ve never been attacked by a mutated carrot, so I have no way of knowing if the sounds for these and the other veg are accurate!
I have no hesitation in giving The Walking Vegetables: Radical Edition on Xbox One a thumbs up. An old skool challenge, a cool neon vibe and the chance to shoot fruit and veg in the face, is always appreciated; in fact, what more could you wish for? With almost infinite level layouts and enemies to attack, and you never knowing which boss you are going to face next, these things always keep the game fresh and interesting. Apart from getting hung up on the scenery occasionally while desperately back pedalling away from a rampant pumpkin, I had zero issues and a lot of fun.
If you are a fan of a twin sticker, please try this one out. If not, give it a whirl anyway!