[TimeWasters highlights many of the excellent, free Web-based/lightweight downloadable titles that you can dive into within the space of a lunch break. This week, Laurie-Anne Vazquez explores The 8-bit Expendables.]
If you haven’t heard of The Expendables franchise and you grew up in the 80s, take a gander at the trailer. It’s everything that was awesome about ’80s action movies–overstated muscles, explosions, bad one-liners–crammed into one (hopefully) glorious ass-kicking fest. To celebrate that awesomeness, the movie’s Facebook fan page features an 8-bit game based on the movies, which is as badass as the premise of the movie, right down to the chiptunes soundtrack.
The 8-bit Expendables is, essentially, a re-skinned Contra – the same backgrounds, same style of bad guys (with different colored clothes), and same power ups (with red or blue skulls in the wings instead of letters). After a screen crawl informing you of your mission (“A team of elite mercenaries head to South America on a mission to overthrow the evil dictator”) you pick your character and are dumped into a jungle that looks exactly like the first level of Konami’s run-and-gun shooter. This is a fitting homage as Contra, specifically its box art, was inspired by Expendables Arnold and Sly’s film exploits.
You can play on Easy (as Jet Li’s character “Yin Yang”), Medium (as Jason Statham’s “Lee Christmas”), or Hard (as Stallone’s “Barney Ross”). There’s a Bonus Round for extra difficulty, and if you beat that and score in the top 10 you win Expendables-related stuff. Each character has their own weapon, power-ups, and arsenal of moves to keep things interesting.
Yin Yang uses throwing stars and he was a pain in the neck to control; his jump took me all over the screen and I could never get my feet under me. Lee Christmas, thankfully, felt more grounded, and he had the lion’s share of power-ups, as well as easy to control throwing knives. Shooting enemies with Barney Ross felt exactly like Contra, even though he’s incredibly slow.
The red skull power-up gives Yin Yang giant red boomerang stars, triple knives to Lee Christmas, and red machine gun-fire to Barney Ross. The blue skull gives everyone a bubble of invisibility that was actually useful. You have six lives to use and infinite continues (there’s even an 8-bit version of your character with a flower on his chest on the continue screen when you kick it). 8-bit Expendables has a lot of play for a Facebook game, so much more so than fluff like Farmville.
What more you could you want from an 80s-style game based on an 80s-style movie? Maybe a sequel featuring the full cast of characters.