The revival of the Serious Sam on modern hardware has been welcomed by both long time fans of the franchise and those becoming bored with the chokepoint between design and marketing. Far too many videogame experiences opt for faux realism, Hollywood grit or bullet-point sales techniques in modern times; Serious Sam kicks back against all of this with its tongue firmly in its cheek.
Serious Sam 3: BFE was a hugely enjoyable and intentionally chaotic romp on Xbox LIVE Arcade, and the newly released Serious Sam: Double D XXL does exactly the same thing in an entirely different way. Serious Sam: Double D XXL was originally intended to be one of three indie titles developed to support the launch of Serious Sam 3: BFE, however the success of Mommy’s Best Games’ project has seen it move beyond this humble beginning and become a videogame worthy of note in it’s own right.
A 2D side-scrolling shooter in the vein of Contra or Probotector, Serious Sam: Double D XXL takes the franchises’ circular gameplay formula and pushes it through the genre’s square hole, and surprisingly comes up with something that is as familiar as it is enjoyable. The player has to face of hundreds of foes as they move across linear levels, blasting anything that moves with increasingly bigger guns. Or, as is the unique selling point of Serious Sam: Double D XXL, an increasing bigger gunstack.
Gunstacking is pretty much what it sounds like: staking guns atop one another to create a gunstack. Players will collect new weapons and stacking arms as they progress through the videogame allowing them to combine up to six guns into a single, monstrous weapon. Each of these can have a special enhancement placed upon it also, resulting in a great deal of variety that can be created. Up to eight stacks of six guns can be created, so long as you have the necessary equipment, and are shared between players.
Serious Sam: Double D XXL promotes co-operative gameplay as a core part of the gameplay experience, though sadly it is noticeably limited. Available with two players on a single system alone (no online gameplay is included at all) the co-operatively gameplay is already significantly inferior to what many may be expecting on a technical level. Additionally, all in-game items aside from health and armour are shared. While this is a design decision that makes obvious sense when it comes to cash and ammo, the restrictions placed on the gunstacks seem unnecessary. Serious Sam Double D XXL bears all the hallmarks of a videogame built for a single player before the studio realised it was infinitely more fun with a second party, and thus Serious Sam Double D XXL has some unfortunate limitations but nothing that core gamers won’t be able to overlook.
Launching as an Xbox LIVE Arcade title after a successful stint as a PC exclusive, Serious Sam: Double D XXL is a welcome and enjoyable high-octane shooting experience, the kind that often gets overlooked these days. And that will be the biggest barrier Serious Sam: Double D XXL has to surpass: with so many new videogames being released every week how will it get noticed? Fans of the genre and Serious Sam will certainly be waiting with baited breath, but beyond that Serious Sam: Double D XXL may struggle to achieve the attention it deserves.