iPhone Life magazine

Review: A Space Shooter For Free by Frima

A Space Shooter is simply that – a space shooter.  There’s nothing spectacular about the game play, and honestly not a whole lot original about the story or anything else.  What makes this worth playing, aside from the basic thrill of blowing up everything that stands in your way (which is a formula that’s hard, though not impossible, to mess up), is the game’s personality.  The irreverent hero is amusing, the villains are outlandish, and the A.I. put’s James Cameron’s movie to shame.  Game play wise I can rattle off half a dozen other games that are more fun, but when it comes to sheer atmosphere, A Space Shooter is hard to beat… and the captain would be more than happy to tell you so.

One Black Hole Coming Up
 

Assuming the funny intro video is a direct tie to the story line, you’re basically a geeky kid that gets beaten up and then grows up to be a cocky pilot that destroys aliens.  You’re not on a mission to save Earth or anything like that, you just don’t like aliens.  You’ll travel the universe destroying anything non-human that flies ships and collecting weapons from bosses MegaMan style.  Unlike the tales of the virtuous blue robot, however, you can use any weapons you’ve collected on every subsequent battle, all during the same battle if you’d like.  Along the way you’ll also collect “remnants” for destroying aliens, and you can use these leftovers to buy upgrades for your ship as you indulge in the humorous subplot to try and woo the owner of the shop into going out with you.

There are plenty of upgrades to buy, many of which can be picked up during play on a temporary basis (bought upgrades last the rest of the game, while picked up upgrades last for a little while on the current level).  Unfortunately, the upgrades are fairly outrageously priced, and chances are you’ll only get one upgrade for every couple of levels you beat.  Of course, if you’d like to fast track the weapons domination you can unlock several upgrades at once by spending a mere 99 cents for IAP bundles.  Sort of makes the phrase “for free” in the title a bit of a misnomer, but then you can’t say you didn’t expect it.  You actually have to unlock the full game via IAP as well, though I’m not sure how much you get for gratis because I’m running a pre-release build that has the entire game opened up (I still have to work or pay for my weapons, though).

Do You Have An Appointment?
 

There’s a campaign mode where you defeat the big bosses, collect the special weapons and upgrade your system.  There’s also a survival mode which is nice because you just keep going until you’re dead, all the time collecting remnants that you can spend in campaign mode.  You also have access to all the special weapons that you’ve collected during the campaign.  To move your ship you simply drag your finger around the screen.  A virtual d-pad might have been nice simply because I had this bad habit of blocking my view, but sadly there were no configuration choices.  The firing of your main weapon is automatic, but you have to activate the special weapons.  It’s simply a matter of tapping the appropriate button, but you have to stop moving in order to do so, which is a bit of a bummer.

The aesthetics are where A Space Shooter shines, and it starts with the graphics.  Now you might look at some combat screen shots and wonder what I’m seeing, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  Aside from a couple of quirky boss ships, the in-game visuals are pretty standard.  Not bad, mind you, but not stand out either.  What I’m talking about are the characters.  I could easily see an animated film revolving around these characters, and in fact would actually like to see one.  The characters are finely detailed and have great expressions.  I just wish we could get a glimpse of them animated instead of just some still shots.

Surrounded
 

Much like the combat visuals, the combat audio is pretty standard.  However, there are some amusing quips from the captain, and every once in a while the AI will speak out as well, adding some nice variety to the sounds.  As for the voice casting, these guys did an incredible job.  The captain could give Duke Nukem a run for his money, and all the supporting characters have unique voices that sound really good.  I’m quite impressed with this aspect of the game.  The music is also very well done.  It really captures the feel of the epic space battles that are going on.

There’s really nothing about A Space Shooter that immediately jumps out at you and says “wow, this is better than all those other shooters”.  In fact, I honestly didn’t care for it much at first.  The more time you spend with the captain, the store clerk and the rest of the gang, however, the more you can’t help but enjoy this twisted space adventure.  Plus, while it might not be overly original, it’s still a solid shooter with lots of pure carnage to be wrought, and in the end that’s most of what I care for in a game like this.

Overall Score: 8/10
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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.