In Serious Sam: Double D, from indie developer Mommy's Best Games, Sam Stone finds himself travelling throughout time to blast away at the remnants of Mental's army. Mental is busy preparing for his grand return in the upcoming Serious Sam 3: BFE, so Sam's facing off against a new antagonist this time around. General Maxilla, a zombified military general, rallies Mental's horde together, along with some new additions to Sam's rogues gallery.
This game is not the typical Serious Sam FPS experience, but more like a retro 2D-shooter in the vein of old-school titles like Contra. As Sam moves forward, enemies will spawn from various parts of the screen. Sam can mow them down on the go with the standard machine pistol, but that's effective for about two minutes before sheer numbers will call for something bigger. That leads into the game's main attraction: the Gun Stacker.
Gun Stacker parts can be found throughout the game and each part allows Sam to combine pairs of weapons, up to a maximum of six. Every single weapon in the game can be paired up with a Gun Stacker component. Feel like matching up a chainsaw and a rocket launcher? Go ahead. Combine a flamethrower and a shotgun? Go nuts. While certain combinations may not seem entirely practical, any combination is possible and the game is much richer for it. I had a blast running through levels with my chainsaw/double rocket launcher/double Tommy gun/shotgun hybrid. Carrying so much firepower simultaneously gave me the feel that I could take on anything, which was good, because Serious Sam: Double D had plenty to throw my way.
There are many sequences in which dozens of enemies will spawn in from all sides and charge towards Sam. This leads into one of my favorite aspects of the game. Enemy corpses will not only remain on the screen, but they also retain any sense of collision. So with solid enemy corpses piling up on the ground, Sam can use the pile of dead bodies as makeshift platforms in order to reach previously inaccessible areas. These sequences give areas of endlessly spawning enemies a greater purpose. Corpses can used to fill up spike pits and make them safe to walk across. They can also be used to reach higher areas, where secrets are hidden. These sequences don't feel like difficulty for the sake of added difficulty. They serve practical purposes, something I don't typically see from other games of this genre.
Serious Sam: Double D features a number of boss battles, often ready to counter your artillery through sheer size. Many of the game's bosses take up more than half of the screen and are outrageous to look at. One of the first bosses I ran into was a giant top-half of a gorilla, propelled by rocket power with giant buzzsaws for hands. Like most of Mental's army, enemy and boss design are imagination run amuck and it's fun to look at. Unfortunately, many of the boss battles lack variety and often boil down to a strategy of "shoot them a lot until they're dead." The first few boss fights are fun, but they got repetitive quickly.
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One other thing I really enjoyed about Serious Sam: Double D was being reminded of how little the game takes itself seriously. The game's humor was at its best when it was simple. Watching General Maxilla prove himself to be an inept leader, as his headless kamikazes constantly exploded during meetings was funny. The enemy designs of new foes like the Vevuzelators (evil pancake stacks that exploded in bursts of vuvuzuela horns) and Femikazes (female versions of the headless kamikazes with huge sets of bombs) made me laugh. When not overtly trying to make references to other games, I found a lot of the writing to be clever. Mommy's Best Games does a great job in recreating the spirit of the old Serious Sam games, even with the shift in genre.
With many fans anxiously awaiting Serious Sam 3: BFE, Serious Sam: Double D serves as a pleasant under-the-radar surprise. I'm happy to say that Mommy's Best Games knows what makes Serious Sam fun and they make a great 2D retro-style shooter. Fans will have a lot of fun diving into this opening act before the BFE main event begins.