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SmartGamer - StarBlaster

StarBlaster, by Game on the Go

Review by James Sweet

Everyone loves arcade classics, the gameplay of those old masterpieces stands the test of time admirably! But that�s about all that does keep pace, with graphics, sounds and surprises all being decidedly old hat for a modern gaming platform. Starblaster by Game on the Go builds on the concept introduced in Asteroids, but aims to refresh it for the 21st century! So is Starblaster a blast or a non-STARter� (oh dear I need new puns.) Read on and find out!

       

The game is installed painlessly via a standard windows installer, ready to blast off for your first ride. Loading time is a little longer than I�d like, but not too bad. Once loaded though I was pleased too see a nice pretty menu screen, which gives out the right vibe.

From the main Menu you can start a new game, view instructions, change the game options (such as redefining keys, flipping the screen and turning sound on and off) or view the high scores.

       

Anyway onto the game� When you start a new game you get 3 different ships to choose from, which all have different characteristics. The Invictus has the most powerful weapon but only a short range and slow accelaration. The Auria is fast and has a long range, but with a very weak weapon, and the Ferox is somewhere in-between. Having made your selection you will find your ship floating in the middle of the screen, with a number of dangerous looking rocks drifting around. Your mission is simple. Destroy all the other objects in the vicinity without getting pulverised by one of them� The rocks basically move in a straight line, and when they get to the edge of the screen they�ll come back onto the other side, as will your ship. (Topologically speaking that makes the playfield equivalent to a torus/donut for anyone who cares.) There playfield actually extends a short distance beyond the visible screen, so you can sometimes lose track of rocks and your ship when its just over the edge of the screen. In practise this isn�t too bad, but does mean I�m a bit scared to take my ship near the edges. Unfortunately there�s no save option, and the back/home keys don�t work, so the only way to suspend a game is to pause it until the phone�s homescreen activates.

The game maximises the play area, by rotating the screen 90�, meaning that the sensible control set is to use a volume key to fire and the joypad to control the ship. Fortunately this is exactly what the default controls are, so no need to change them unless you really want to. The controls are proportional to the ship, so pressing the joypad up accelerates the ship in the direction of its current heading, and moving left/right rotates the ship accordingly. I did get a bit of thumb ache after playing for a while like this, but that�s more the fault of my e100 joystick than the game. Things are made somewhat easier by the fact that the ship will slow down to a rest (eventually) when not accelerating.

       

Just as in Asteroids, large rocks break up into smaller ones when blasted enough, and can only be finally annihilated by destroying the smallest rocks. To make the game more interesting though, there are all sorts of other enemies to contend with. Little droid things move around, stop, then head off in a different direction. Enemy spaceships will take pot shots at you, whilst flying around the screen, and mines drift slowly towards your ship.

To deal with all of these you will find a number of useful powerups. Extra lives, weapon upgrades, shields, starbursts and gravatonic waves will all help to keep you in action. It�s especially satisfying to use a gravatonic wave to destroy a large number of rocks at once!

The graphics are very nicely done indeed. Rocks spin convincingly, and really look like rocks. (Ok, perhaps rocks are more exciting to some people that others�) The backgrounds are very pretty, with a new one every few levels, and the ship graphics are all nice and crisp.

The graphics are very nicely done indeed. Rocks spin convincingly, and really look like rocks. (Ok, perhaps rocks are more exciting to some people that others�)

Sounds however are a bit of a let down. You get the standard zap from shooting and a little bang for blowing things up, but that�s about as far as it goes. Although music can sometimes be annoying it can really add that extra dimension when done well, so it�s a shame there�s no music at all.

Fortunately the gameplay itself is spot on. There are 30 levels to clear through, with plenty of variation as you go through. Although you can�t set a difficulty level I think the game has been balanced pretty nicely. Once you get the hang of the controls you will be nimbly dodging asteroids, spinning and blowing them apart from behind. It does require skill to get past the higher levels (my highest is about level 21 so far), but the early levels are easy enough to clear. Make no mistake here, this is arcade fun at its finest!

       

Conclusion

If you�re any sort of action fan then Starblaster should light up your eyes. The graphics are very nice indeed and the action will keep you coming back for more. A few small flaws such as a lack of music, and save options keep the game from being perfect, but overall you�ll find this game a lot of fun. The game successfully pulls together classic gameplay with modern refinement. Rocks are evil and must be punished� blow them away with Starblaster!

Pros:

Very pretty graphics
Classic action for the 21st century
Top notch gameplay that�ll keep you playing for hours

Cons:

No music
No save, and back/home keys non functional.

StarBlaster scores 7/10

(If the save/suspend/resume option was added in I�d probably give this an extra point � I do like to play my phone games in short bursts)

Notes:
James has let me know that the price of the full game has just been reduced to a bargain $8.99, so if you were holding off before, now�s the time to snap it up. There is also a demo available with just the first three levels, so you can try before you buy.

Scoring

All reviews are rated from 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest score available and 10 the highest.

Here at SmartGamer.org, we pride ourselves on rating games as fairly and honestly as possible.

If a game deserves a low score, rest assured that it will get it.


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