Not Just a Clone… a Super Clone
LeftRight throws you into a dystopian future with Super Clone, though in this future the robots won the battle and the war. With humans near extinction, a genius scientist cracks the art of cloning and brings you back to fight again. You’re not just any clone… you’re a super clone. It’s no Stephen King novel, but I can get behind a shoot ’em up with a story like that.
Super Clone is a mixed bag, however. It brings a breath of fresh air to the shoot ’em up genre through fun, addicting gameplay and a unique art style. But on the other side of the coin, it makes some questionable choices with microtransactions.
A Fresh Coat of Paint
“This doesn’t look like a shoot ’em up,” you might say. You would be right, but it sure plays like one, albeit one from a top-down view. Aiming and firing are done automatically, so all you need to worry about is moving about the map, rolling when necessary. And power-ups? Super Clone has them, too.
Super Clone alters the genre by providing mechanics you’d expect, but in a different order. Normally, you’d pick up power-ups during a stage, but the game uses power-ups as a reward for completing said level. Those abilities include faster attack rate, critical hit chance, homing rockets, or bouncing bullets, to name a few. Not all are offensive; having defensive utility is available as well such as increased maximum health, lifesteal, or a magnet ability that automatically collects coins and experience.
Super Clone adds further depth through RPG elements. You can equip your clone with different guns and equipment such as body suits, headgear, and pauldrons. Most, if not all, boil down to increasing your maximum health or increasing your damage per second. Mopping up enemies will yield experience, represented by lightning bolts. Collect enough lightning and you can level up, giving you an opportunity to increase one of your base stats—if you’re willing to spend coin. Where power-ups are temporary, gear and stat upgrades are permanent.
But like any touchscreen game, the controls can be a problem. Most of the time, the touchscreen controls work just fine. When they don’t, performing the fine movements often required—like squeezing between enemy projectiles—tested my patience. Super Clone would greatly benefit from controller support.
Progression? Not on My Watch!
Super Clone thought I wouldn’t notice the reskinned energy system. It’s common practice for freemium titles to have players spend energy to play the game. With Super Clone, you have “lives.” It makes sense thematically; after all, you are a clone. Spending a life to experience the game is still an energy system, no matter how you dress it.
An energy system isn’t the only gatekeeping practice utilized. Once you hit the second zone, enemies are healthier and hit harder, resulting in a far greater number of deaths. This makes it very difficult to progress, not because you’re unskilled, but because the developers created artificial difficulty through stats rather than game mechanics. Even increasing your base stats is done randomly as opposed to choosing which stats you’d like to invest in.
All the tactics being used to halt progression reveal Super Clone’s goal to get you spending money on loot boxes. Ignore them and you’ll spend a lot of time grinding coins and keys on a handful of zones. I will say this, though: I’m glad the game doesn’t have PVP, or else the use of microtransactions would go from frustrating to egregious. Titles such as Shadow Knight: Deathly Adventure made that mistake, and didn’t get welcoming fanfare from me.
Tender Love and Care Needed
With Super Clone’s weaknesses known, did I hate the game? Quite the contrary. I had fun testing different ability combinations and zipping around the map. When I needed to pass the time, jumping into the game was easy and almost always enjoyable. It doesn’t ask for hours out of your day either. Completing a level gets you that much closer to upgrading a weapon or base stat, and LeftRight is uncommonly generous with handing out resources.
What Super Clone needs most is tender love and care. Fixing the controls, adding more content, and keeping it single-player would be a good place to start. If that’s what the future holds, I can see myself sinking a few dollars into it.
Is it Hardcore?
If you can look past the obvious attempts at halting your progression, Super Clone is an addicting shoot ’em up for the modern age. Its bright and colorful art style is unique, helping it to stand out from the rest of the half-baked garbage.