What happens when you take a popular animated TV series targeted at adult audiences, include the more adult-oriented humor, tack on some retro-style gameplay, and combine it all into an affordable downloadable package for home consoles? Apparently, the answer is Ugly Americans Apocalypsegeddon, available through both Xbox Live Arcade (Xbox 360) and PlayStation Network (PS3).

Is this worth your hard-earned ten bucks (800 MS Points) or is it really ugly and not at all worth your time? Let’s dive into the demonic apocalypse and find out.

Based on the Comedy Central TV Show

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not terribly familiar with the Ugly Americans television series on Comedy Central, so I won’t really “get” the in-jokes and other stuff that would appeal to fans of the animated show. If you know and like the show, however, I’m sure there are more things in this game that will appeal to you.

For instance, you might already know about the main characters. Players have the choice of four protagonists: Mark Lilly, Leonard Powers, Callie Maggotbone, and Francis Grimes. Each of the characters have slightly different attributes, like the maximum ratings they can get in each area (more on that in a moment), as well as different special attacks and different affinities.

The kind of humor employed in this game is in line with the crude antics of the TV series. They’ll use some “blue” language at times, so despite the animated appearance, the game may not be terribly appropriate for younger audiences.

A Twin-Stick Action RPG

People who like retro gaming will likely enjoy the core gameplay mechanic of Ugly Americans Apocalypsegeddon. Instead of using an attack button, this game employs a dual stick control scheme that is not unlike the Smash TV classic.

The left analog stick controls your character’s movement, while the right analog stick determines the direction of his or her attacks. In the case of the XBLA version, RB is used to pick up weapons, Y is used to revive downed team members, and RT unleashes the special attack, the last of which slowly recharges over time.

It’s simple, but no one said it was easy. The action on the screen gets very frantic and very crowded in a hurry, filled with your character’s projectiles, as well as enemy characters and destructible environments. If you like organized chaos, you’ll like this.

The RPG Element with Power-Ups

Coming from the perspective of expecting a “pure” retro arcade experience, I was pleasantly surprised to see some minor action RPG elements involved in Apocalypsegeddon. Yes, you just go from stage to stage, firing off at demonic enemies, but you also level up your experience along the way.

This earns you attribute points that can then be distributed across strength, vigor, spirit, guts, agility, and fortune. These impact the power of your attacks, the size of your health bar, the strength of your special attack, the likelihood of getting “good” items, and so on. This is why choosing your character is not a decision to be taken lightly, as each character has different maximums for each of these attributes.

For people like me who aren’t exactly fans of “heavy” role-playing games, this “minor” leveling up and such adds just enough to make this game a bit more complex than your typical button-masher (especially since you won’t be mashing any buttons at all).

The other part of the action RPG thing allows your character to carry a demonic baby on his or her back. These babies provide additional bonus abilities or improved attributes, like increasing the amount of experience you get for defeating each enemy.

You don’t have all of these babies right off the bat, so you’ll need to discover and “rescue” them as you make your way through the various stages.

Graphics and Sound

The graphic style of Ugly Americans Apocalypsegeddon is in line with the animated series. The whole game looks like the cartoon with a cel-like 2D presentation. That’s a good thing, since “upgrading” the graphics to a higher level would take away from the charm and the connection to the Comedy Central inspiration.

The designers have made heavy use of a lot of deeply saturated colors and the animations are relatively smooth, albeit remarkably simple. This is quite different from something like TMNT Turtles in Time Reshelled, but it really should be. I’d say it’s almost more in line with a title like Castle Crashers, but with a definite Comedy Central slant. I would have wanted the numbers, representing damage taken or health gained, to be clearer as to whether it is my character getting hurt or an enemy.

The sound is equally simplistic in its presentation, offering basic sound effects for destruction and death. The intermingled voice acting is distracting at times, but fans of the TV series might like it. And yes, it’s quite crude.

MEGATechie Frantic Fun or MEGATechie Ferociously Foul?

Let’s be clear. Ugly Americans Apocalypsegeddon isn’t going to “wow” anyone. It’s not groundbreaking in its approach. The gameplay isn’t innovative, the story development is mediocre, and the graphics aren’t incredible.

At the same time, you can’t say it’s all that bad either. This is one of those guilty pleasures that is just fun to play, especially since anyone will understand how to play it. The absolute chaos on the screen and the light-hearted RPG elements add to the experience and I can totally see this is a great way to kill some time with an Xbox on the go. At $10, you could do a heck of a lot worse.

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