Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.
Everyone knows that it’s only a matter of time until Apple’s secret army of Steve Jobobots gain sentience and enslave humanity, forcing us to toil in their endless iPad mines. Yet until that fateful day, robots can also be helpful—whether they’re an Austrian android working as the governor of California or a Roomba cheerfully sucking up our stale Cheetos and lint balls.
A tin man with a heart of gold is also at the center of Mutant Alien Assault, a fast-paced arcade shooter. You take on the role of a lone robot stranded on a starship that is under attack by vicious aliens. To escape, you’ll need to power up your vessel’s reactor core with enough fuel rods to make the jump to hyperspace (which isn’t exactly like dusting crops). Unfortunately, you’ll have to fend off an endless stream of aliens who mutate into even more deadly creatures if left alive for too long. Luckily, in each of the game’s five levels, there’s a weapon dispenser which offers random arms such as laser rifles and grenade launchers.
The result is a frenetic shooter that challenges you to make quick kill-or-be-killed decisions. Do you head back and grab another fuel rod, jump to the weapon dispenser, or simply try to hold the line against the growing horde? A catchy dubstep soundtrack gives Mutant Alien Assault an extra hook—beyond the appeal of playing as an underdog with the plucky courage of R2-D2, the sassy attitude of Johnny Five, and the quiet dignity of TV’s Small Wonder.