Publishers like Alternative must be absolutely sick of people reviewing their software and saying "Well, it would be alright if it was a budget game". It is not something your Oceans and Gremlins and MicroProses have to contend with, is it? Then again, your Oceans and Gremlins and MicroProses do not often come up with this kind of thing.
Suburban Commando is essentially a platformer, but with pretensions to diversity. The first level is a horizontally scrolling shoot-em-up which looks and plays very much like a kind of kiddie Project X, and each of the three subsequent platform levels is suffixed by Street Fighter 2-esque one-on-one beat-em-up scenario with the end-of-level boss.
The shoot em up and beat em ups bits, though, are distinctly secondary concerns - the vast bulk of the game (if any amount of a game that has only got three main levels can be said to be a vast bulk) is contained in the platform bits, which is probably the wisest course of action when you look at the other bits - they are not exactly rubbish, but they have got 'sub-game' written all over them in big capital letters.
The platform sections are not what you would call state-of-the-art, however they are competent enough and quite pretty (with a visual style very reminiscent in parts of Soccer Kid, albeit with a washed-out colour scheme), which is a blessed relief in itself for anyone who has played last month's Huckleberry Hound.
When this came in and I played it for a little while, I was all set to go off at the deep end about how dreadful it all was, but after sticking with it for a while (professional reasons, you know how it is) I was mildly surprised find it growing on me.
I was surprised to find it growing on me.
NOT FOR THE FIRST TIME
While there is not even the suggestion of a spark of originality about it, it is all reasonably efficient, it looks okay and once you get used to the idiosyncrasies of the controls (jumping in particular is ridiculously skittish) it is respectably playable without ever really raising anything beyond a perfunctory kind of interest.
In fact (uh-oh)... it would make a perfect budget game. Full-price software today is stuff like Cannon Fodder, or Syndicate, or Mortal Kombat, or... well, you get the idea.
Harmless but wafer-thin antics like these simply do not cut it at 25 quid and it is either breathtaking self-delusion or an ill-advised marketing bluff on the part of Alternative to imagine otherwise.