Game Reviews

Air Supply - SOS

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Air Supply - SOS

Like early relationships and films you haven't seen for years, we tend to only remember the good things about old games.

Weren't they original? Weren't they addictive?

Yes they were, occasionally. They were also frustrating, repetitive, and clunky.

The developer of Air Supply - SOS evidently remembers both the good and bad bits of early video games, and this twenty-twenty vision has resulted in an excellent arcade blaster.

Full Spectrum warrior

What we have here could have been sold for a couple of pounds on a ZX Spectrum cassette in the late '80s. Except it couldn't, because it's too slick and too much fun.

The set-up is simple - guide your little robot hero around a static screen, blasting incoming enemies and collecting power-ups.

At the core of Air Supply - SOS's control scheme is a neat combined shoot-boost mechanic. Tap the solitary action button and your robot will simultaneously loose a single horizontal shot from its gun and a vertical burst of thrust from its rocket pack.

This simple set-up, combined with a pleasingly weighty inertia system, makes each level a balletic, tight-rope display as you try to mix offensive power and manoeuvrability.

Woolly jumpers

The goal isn't to shoot things here, though. It's to save the sheep that float down onto the screen by scooping them up and flying them down to your rocket ship.

You also need to keep an eye on your air supply, which essentially doubles as your health bar. Fail to pick up O2 bubbles at a steady rate, or sustain too much damage at once, and it's game over.

All of which stays faithful to those retro roots that are clearly on display here. Where Air Supply - SOS keeps you coming back is in its many thoughtful nods to modernity.

SOS about that

For one thing, there's a surprising amount of variety to Air Supply - SOS's levels. While you stay doing the same thing throughout, the enemy design and behaviour changes markedly as you progress through all ten planets.

Besides an ever changing cast of grunts, this includes zany and surprising bosses, and a steady drip of tricky time-limited static defence mechanisms.

Another welcome modern touch is the implementation of perks. As you collect stars, you'll steadily unlock new abilities that can be assigned to one of two slots. These can increase your firing speed, bolster your air supply, and so on.

Plenty of character

There are also new playable characters to unlock, each with their own default weapon, and new music, planets, and palettes to open up.

Finally, while Air Supply - SOS is tricky, it's never frustrating. You can always retry or continue from where you left off, and once you've unlocked a new world you can start from the beginning of that.

The only thing you'll lose is your accumulating high score, but there's even a perk that will give you a boost there.

Air Supply - SOS isn't startlingly original or technically outstanding. But its marriage of tight retro arcade gameplay and thoughtful modern touches makes it the kind of game you'll keep coming back to time and again.

Air Supply - SOS

A bright combination of retro arcade gameplay and modern flourishes, Air Supply - SOS will leave you gasping for more
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.