A quick summary of the basic mechanics of the game, much of which is in the tutorial but when you’re mid-playing that can be a bit overwhelming.
Guide to Basics
Akka Arrh is a score attack game. While the experience of the wild and wonderfully synchronised audio and video is a major part of the reason to play, the goal is to optimise your score from each level and to get as far as you can through the 48 levels.
It’s possible to achieve vastly different scores on the same level depending how well you exploit the play mechanisms and bonuses.
There are two key sources of lovely juicy points:
- Chaining kills which amps up the points per kill.
- Bonuses for achieving four things.
- Keeping your “lives” or pods intact (up to 200,000 per level or even higher, just dished out 650k).
- Keeping your turret clear of intruders (32767).
- Having bullets left at the end of a level.
- Using as few bombs as possible, ideally none.
It’s possible to restart on a later level (Restart Best mode), carrying on your highest previous score at that point, which for any level from 5 onwards will contribute to the “classic” leaderboard. If you start on levels 1-4 you get to compete on the Pure leaderboard.
There are two difficulty levels, normal and hard.
You play the disembodied vectorised head of some kind of ungulate, as is to be expected in a Minter & Giles game. You can only rotate, you can’t move but fortunately you have the assistance of an aiming cursor, which has some other tricks up its sleeve, which is very nimble indeed. Especially when using mouse or trackball controls.
You have 16 lives (pods) at the start of the game and as soon as you run out of pods through the unsavoury actions of incoming enemies, your game is over.
These pods are just visible in the main play area, as a rotating ring of tiny atomic looking orbs but easily missed – they are set back into the screen around a small honeycomb. It’s possible to jump closer to them (go downstairs) in order to fend off close-in attacks from enemies who’ve made it past your defences and are trying to drag them off to some horrible fate. You can only do that if they’re in peril – trying to pop off downstairs on a whim isn’t allowed.
There are two main types of enemies and they come in a few flavours but I’ll let you discover that for yourself.
The first enemies you discover are small circular things which drop in and make their way across the large surfaces that make up the playfield trying to get to your turret and its juicy pods.
The other main type of enemy fly past (at least to begin with) and they float about the surface and can’t be affected by anything going on at the surface level. They look very different and come in different shapes, the first ones you’ll discover are like a bowtie with a yellow core which is unleashed to attack you should its host meet an untimely end.
These can deteriorate your pods through 3 mechanisms:
- Getting shot by the yellow bullets which are released by enemies. This can happen fast if there’s a volley of them. Busted pods littered all over the shop.
- Someone getting downstairs and making off with one.
- Some enemies like the green flowers (oh how you will learn to hate the flowers) can drag a pod directly from the safety of the depths of downstairs if you let them live for too long. You will see a tractor beam so react quickly.
The combination of how, when and where you destroy these two sets of villains is absolutely critical to scoring big and that’s what we’ll cover next.
The Light-Generating Destruction
There are three weapons in the game. Using them effectively is the key to a huge number adorning the leaderboard.
- Bombs. Bombs have a key ability, they create an expanding geometric crater which will destroy the small incoming circular enemies and as each of those is detonated, it will explode in a new crater and so on – the longer this chain goes on, the higher your score for each kill. Maxing out this chain for as long as possible is the key to high scores, and it can carry on from one level to the next. Chains do not time out, you just need to avoid resetting them yourself (by getting hit for example).
Should the cratering fizzle out without a new enemy coming in to continue the chain, dropping a new bomb will reset everything and you’re back to 1 point per enemy. But there are other ways to invoke a new crater which can maintain the chain.
- Bullets. Killing enemies will build up a store of bullets you can use. A number appears just next to your aim cursor to tell you your ammo level. This alternate fire shoots fast bullets which can destroy any type of enemy but if you hit a flying enemy its death will create a crater just like a bomb. Killing the small circles does not have this effect, but it will destroy them without resetting the chain score if you need to fend them off. So you can use this crater genesis to continue your chain.
There are sometimes special brightly coloured small enemies leading a formation which when shot with bullets detonate into a new crater. These are sometimes promoted to “sacred boys” glowing white which are even more special and will trigger a big lighting chain to destroy anything nearby.
- You can also pick up a power-up for your cursor, some of which add offensive weaponry and this will also ping up a new crater – where and when you choose to do this as it floats past can also have a big impact on your chain and therefore score. The power-ups themselves are very useful adding abilities like additional bullets, lightning and direct bulling of the enemies.
Importantly, different surfaces have their own crater pattern, some of which have mirror symmetry so a single crater can become 2 or 4 craters – you can affect a very large area with a single bomb or enemy death. They can also expand and fizzle out at different speeds – finding which area has lovely slowly expanding craters which hang around to kill lots of incoming enemies racks up those points. Surfaces can also transform and vanish so you can lose a handy set of craters or you can get a rubbish surface out of the way to make better use of a good one underneath. Certain enemies seem to affect this, but I haven’t quite figured out how yet.
At the end of each level you’ll see a set of scores in the top left showing recent level deltas, the score gained within that level vs your best score on each – green is good – and in the top right the total score for the level you just finished.
The small number which starts at 1.0x in the top left under your total score is a speed multiplier – this can be increased through chaining and also the ffwd power-up. I’m not completely sure if this also acts as a score multiplier but that would make sense!
A Few Tips
Don’t expect a linear difficulty curve. Some levels are evil, the next might be quite chilled.
Watch out for your base circle going yellow and get downstairs pronto.
Pick up powerups in areas with no existing craters.
Shoot flying enemies twice so you get their bullets before they get their revenge.
Use bombs very sparingly. Remember which surface has the slowest crater burn out.
And on level 29 – try moving the cursor a long way off into the corner.
Use a mouse and two buttons. Middle button is used to go downstairs. You can react so much faster to enemy threats coming from every direction.
Great guide! Some extra tips:
– Learn sound cues, especially for enemy bullets that fly back
– Your base circle – it turns yellow when some enemies are trying to get into the base, then it throbs when they enter downstairs.