Game Reviews

Asteroids GUNNER

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Asteroids GUNNER

Nostalgia is a funny emotion. On one hand, it’s incredibly comforting to reminisce about the good old days, getting caught up in happy memories of past events. But at the same time such rose-tinted recollections can cripple your judgment and mask glaring faults.

That’s why updating a game like Asteroids is a tremendously risky endeavour to undertake. The original release is regarded as a Holy relic by many retro gamers - it took wire-frame visuals and created what is arguably the forerunner of every twin-stick shooter currently available on the App Store.

However, playing the original today is a sobering experience, as the game lacks the refinement that 30-odd years of game development has brought.

Belting asteroids

It’s fitting then that the new iPhone sequel Asteroids GUNNER boasts a twin-stick control configuration. Your left stick is in charge of 360-degree movement, while your weapons are aimed using the right stick.

Where Asteroids GUNNER differs from similar titles is that, just like in the coin-op original, your common enemy isn’t a bloodthirsty and cunning alien in a high-tech space ship but an inanimate lump of rock.

The objective in Asteroids GUNNER is to blow up as many asteroids as possible. These initially appear as objects several times larger than your ship, but a few well-aimed laser blasts reduces them to smaller rocks.

Rocky horror

Blowing up asteroids is a double-edged sword. A direct hit on a full-size asteroid will cost you a life, but you can take a few bumps from the smaller rocks - so it stands to reason that you’d want to eradicate the larger specimens as quickly as possible.

However, blowing up a large specimen fills the screen with smaller ones, so although your action ensures you don’t suffer any one-hit deaths, you’re actually increasing the chances of contact by filling the screen with debris.

Destroyed asteroids drop valuable items. Power-ups include shields, weapons, and health, but you can also collect crystals from the floating rubble. These are used as in-game currency, and allow you to upgrade your ship and purchase new weapons.

Crystal clear

Crystals aren’t the only means of obtaining upgrades, however. To unlock new levels, ships, and special upgrades, you’ll need Bucks - and these can only be gained by handing over real money via in-app purchases.

This may come across as a rather sneaky tactic, as the game deliberately withholds content from you. However, it's worth bearing in mind that Asteroids GUNNER is a free download, and there’s still plenty of fun to be had before you get to the stage of buying in-game money.

Asteroids GUNNER features a massive list of unlockable achievements as well as Game Center support. The compelling gameplay is enough to keep you coming back for more on its own, and this is joined by a seemingly endless list of ship and weapon upgrades.

Aside from the slightly frustrating in-app purchase requirements, Asteroids GUNNER doesn’t really put a foot wrong. Fans of the original will be encouraged by the fact that the developer has faithfully maintained the classic rock-blasting gameplay, while those who aren’t old enough to remember Atari’s glory days will be addicted to farming crystals and powering up their ship.

In short, this is the ideal way to modernise a retro classic, and it's well worth a look.

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Asteroids GUNNER

With polished presentation, responsive controls, and an entire universe of upgrades to explore, Asteroids Gunner successfully updates the classic concept and establishes itself as one of the finest twin-stick shooters on the App Store
Damien  McFerran
Damien McFerran
Damien's mum hoped he would grow out of playing silly video games and gain respectable employment. Perhaps become a teacher or a scientist, that kind of thing. Needless to say she now weeps openly whenever anyone asks how her son's getting on these days.