In a world where it takes ten years to bring out another idiotic Duke Nukem game, 2001 shooter Serious Sam was a welcome relief. Here was a game that took itself even less seriously than Nukem, and still managed to retain all the madness and fun of '90s first-person shooters.
Some of you might be uneasy about seeing the franchise on Android. To many, mobile shooters tend to fall between clumsy and unplayable, even on a specialised device like the Xperia Play.
Luckily, for a big dumb franchise Serious Sam is actually rather clever. Instead of trying to make a shooter, Be-Rad entertainment has applied the running game formula to Sam’s insane world. And although it ends up feeling very familiar, it’s still a good time-waster.
Sam I am (not)
The game is familiar because the developer has simply crafted it within the template of Lame Castle – its original running game.
As in that game, you run along the screen automatically and have the ability to jump, double-jump, and dash while various obstacles and pitfalls get in the way.
You take on the role of one of the headless kamikaze men from the Serious Sam PC titles – muscular decapitated madmen with bombs instead of hands whose mission it is to catch up with Sam and blow him up at the end of each level.
All this time cacti, missiles, bombs, and even Sam himself is out to stop you in your tracks. Then there’s your rage meter, which fills up a little with every dash you make. If this fills completely then you’ll blow yourself up from pure rage. The Xperia Play controls work as well as they ever did in the game's mediaeval big brother. The 'up' button jumps while the X button is used to dash. Basic but effective.
Fancy a punt?
The parallels to Be-Rad’s earlier title are everywhere, right down to the chicken-punting objectives that set that game apart from the legion of others in the genre. There are frogs instead of chickens this time around, but the aim is still to boot them along as you go, gaining the bonus points after so many kicks.
The game switches things up by giving you different bonus objectives, such as destroying a certain number of cacti or kicking missiles back towards Sam. In fact, the number of actively dangerous items that fill the screen seems to exceed those of Lame Castle, making this version a bit more difficult – a very welcome change.
It's not quite different enough from its cartoony predecessor in terms of gameplay to encourage you to re-invest. However, if you never picked up Lame Castle and are a fan of the silliness of the Serious Sam universe (or just running games in general), then this is as good a time-sink as any.