Super Crate Box is a freeware PC game made by Vlambeer, a Dutch indie game studio. In it, you collect crates while avoiding and dispatching enemies. The objective is to collect as many crates as you can in a given level.
Super Crate Box is an intentional throwback to old arcade games. The game is structured the same as Mario Bros., enemies fall from the top of the level and travel in straight lines, reversing direction at walls, until they fall into the pit at the bottom, only to fall back down and repeat the process. Just like Mario it is your job to dispatch the enemies or avoid them (touching an enemy kills you), though the ultimate goal of Super Crate Box is collection of crates.
The Crate collection takes its cues from games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and the Battlefield series in the form of unlocks. The game keeps track of the total number of crates you have collected, even though the number collected during a single life is what determines your progress through the levels. At certain overall milestones new weapons are unlocked and immediately accessible.
The art style of the game is in keeping with the “nouveau retro” aesthetic of many recent arcade games. The graphics are simple and in the style of 8-bit or 16-bit games, but are drawn in a contemporary style and use more advanced animations and subtle effects like shading.
Super Crate Box pits time and space against one another. In order to progress you must collect crates. They appear one at a time, randomly around the level. At the same time enemies patrol the level and if left alone will reach the bottom. Enemies that reach the bottom and return from the top are given a dramatic speed boost. Additionally, every time a crate is collected you are randomly given a weapon, so you might go from having a mini-gun to a pistol after collecting a crate. Thus to perform successfully you must navigate the space while avoiding enemies, but ensure that enemies are not given enough time to reach the bottom and return. The longer you play the more enemies appear, making crate collection and enemy control increasingly difficult. The frantic nature of the chronotope is the key gameplay mechanic in Super Crate Box, bringing all the other elements together for a frantic, challenging experience.
Super Crate Box controls is a 2D sidescroller and controls as such. You can move left and right, you can jump and you can shoot your weapon. The interactivity is defined by what you cannot control: your choice of weapon. You must collect crates to score points, unlock things and ultimately win, but each crate collected changes your weapon so you constantly have to adjust your play style. Using mines is very different from a bazooka, the latter having a large blast radius and the former requiring timing to have enemies trigger active mines. In the same way the katana is very different from the bazooka, the latter necessitating long range attacks due to its blast radius and the former being a melee weapon. The ridiculous pace of the game means you must constantly be aware of your weapon and adjusting your playstyle accordingly.