Posted by J.C
Sometimes you need to head out into space to save the Earth, sometimes for galactic conquest, or sometimes just to blast the s*#t out of inanimate floating space rocks. Asteroids X may have hidden existential themes of intrinsic versus extrinsic conflict, but it’s probably mostly about explosions and pretty colours.
For those born under an astrorock, Asteroids was a game that set you in space for no good reason other than to shoot giant rocks. It was one of the first interactive televisual entertainment programs (sometimes called “games”) in existence – proving that nothing is more fundamental to the human psyche than exploding things. In the original, your tiny triangle-shaped craft faced off against an endless series of passive-aggressive asteroids (with the odd UFO for flavour), and since there was typically no ‘end’ to games back then, it was simply an affair all about survival and competing for the highest score in the arcades. The game had a few key innovations for its time though – larger rocks exploded into smaller rocks, which made the playfield get more and more precarious as time went on, and the inertia-based movement meant it was all too easy to glide sideways into one of these chunks of vicious space debris.
This brings us to AsteroidX, which ups the ante by adding a significant amount of flare, graphically of course, but also with new additions such as meteors and suicidal space-trains joining the fray, and generous sprinklings of powerups to assist in your screen covering explosive force, all topped off with an online leaderboard to see who really is the King of
Kong Asteroids. The action builds up pretty fast, but the game isn’t inherently difficult, and it’s all rather cathartic after a day of writing about legal decisions (if you happen to the same day job as me).
Strangely, though, the two key aspects of what made Asteroids, well, Asteroids, do not make an appearance here. Bigger rocks take more blasts to do away with, but they don’t break up into smaller rocks, which really removes a lot of the potential for chaotic fun. This may be in part to the ship’s movement system which has also been simplified, but arguably downgraded – your ship follows the smartphone era of control school and follows the mouse and shoots continuously. Clicking the mouse will speed you up temporarily, using up your boost meter, however, ‘boost’ appears to actually mean ‘very reluctantly stagger forward like a kid on his first day of school’. These factors, to me at least, made the game feel a bit disjointed and really takes away from the fluidity and strategic fun behind deciding when to blast more rocks and when to clean up.
The exploding and powerups are fun, though. Did I mention explosions? Because there are explosions. And it’s free (pay what you want, including $0).
AsteroidX | Download from Itch.io
About J.CI grew up in the dark dingy arcades of the 1980s, blasting heads with Robocop 2, but grew up in an era that spanned the introduction of the x86 home computer, through to the 16-bit revolution, into the polygon age and beyond. I write about food, travel and of course, New Retro Games. I started newretrogames.wordpress.com and contribute to www.thecitylane.com. I am also a freelance business researcher, writer, and editor having published academic and corporate articles on innovation and intellectual property.
Posted on January 20, 2016, in Shoot 'Em Up and tagged Asteroids, Free, Gamepad support, Kronbits (developer), Linux, mac, Mouse-Only Support, One Button Game, Online Leaderboard, Pay What You Want, Space, Windows. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.