Asteroids GUNNER is a blast of rocks and space

Nov 18, 2011
Games

Outer space is most often referenced in popular culture as a vast wasteland, an endless void. Countless TV shows, movies and games have played with this trope — perhaps most famously with the tagline from Alien — “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Asteroids GUNNER imagines space very differently. In Asteroids GUNNER, space […]

Outer space is most often referenced in popular culture as a vast wasteland, an endless void. Countless TV shows, movies and games have played with this trope — perhaps most famously with the tagline from Alien — “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Asteroids GUNNER imagines space very differently.

In Asteroids GUNNER, space is like a congested highway in a hailstorm. In the busiest sections of the game, debris flies by your tiny craft, and there’s little you can do but hope to shoot your way out. It’s a perfect way to take the classic Asteroids gameplay formula and bring it into the next generation.

And I wasn’t joking about your spacecraft. The default ship you pilot is about a quarter of the size of some of the bigger asteroids that you’ll blast apart. By playing through the games numerous levels and collecting the loot that the asteroids leave behind, you can earn credits to upgrade your ship and its weaponry. That’s key when in later levels the large ever-present asteroids are joined by other ships that aren’t keen on you hogging all the space booty.

Visually, Asteroids GUNNER is a surprising treat. Perhaps because there’s little to animate other than a ship, some empty space and some large rocks, the detail and clarity in GUNNER are impressive. Planets in the background provide a nice depth of field, and even when the screen is full of asteroids there isn’t any noticeable slowdown.

If there’s anything strange about Asteroids GUNNER, its how much freedom the game gives you. There isn’t really a tutorial, and it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth level that I realized I was on the fourth or fifth level. Rather than pull you out of the game completely when you finish a level, the game gives you a few quick stats, like how long it took you to complete the stage and your shot percentage, and then you keep going. When I first exited the game, I realized I had progressed through six levels without much of a break. Although some handholding, especially as it relates to the best ways to upgrade your ship, would be welcome, it’s a refreshing feeling to play a game and be allowed to succeed or fail on your own merits.

Asteroids GUNNER will feel plenty familiar to old-school gamers who remember the original Asteroids games, but that doesn’t mean younger gamers should overlook it. It’s a fun app game that utilizes the idea of desolate space in impressive fashion. Besides, it looks light years better than its predecessor.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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