Sunday, October 03, 2010

Video game number two hundred and ninety: Astro Invaders

Video game review number two hundred and eighty nine in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Astro Invaders".

This is hands down the ugliest game I've played this year.

Another game recommended to me by Gamefly's "auto recommend" features, I picked this one because it said it was a sequel to the classic game "Asteroids", and out of 5 ratings on the site, it was averaging a 6/10. That didn't sound too bad to me.

The fact is, I really need to stop trusting the "recommended for you" feature on Gamefly. More often than not, it has let me down. I realize that in a year where I'm supposed to play 365 games I've never played before, sometimes....I'll have to venture outside my comfort zone. This game took me outside of comfort, outside of tolerance...and into a zone I can only call my "hatred zone".

First of all, the graphics on this game look like they belong on a cell phone from 2005 or so, not on a Nintendo DS. Everything is pixelated, blocky and ugly. The cut scenes (if you can call them that) consist of static images on the top screen, while REALLY blocky text appears on the bottom screen.

You begin the game with the choice of a (poorly translated) campaign, or an arcade mode. I started with the campaign...which was fairly ridiculous as far as the story went (you're in jail, and they let you out to fly a spaceship and fight bad guys). While it was nice to have some idea of why I was fighting...I had absolutely no clue as to what all the power ups and weapons I had access to would do. Hell, it was even hard to start a mission, until I figured out how to navigate one of the most confusing menus I've ever seen in a video game. You're supposed to be able to set your ship up with weapons before the round starts, but they don't tell you what any of the weapons are, or even give you stats on them. Then you move the cursor from one corner of the screen to the next, until you finally find the blue button. The blue button starts the game, even though there's no label or indicator that tells you that. These menus are completely useless.

Arcade mode simply removes the "talking parts" and throws you into that same horrible menu, where you can set up your ship before battle and then go shoot some aliens. Through trial and error, I was able to begin a match and clear a round or two. Instead of having one fire button, you use all four, and each button on the DS fires in a different direction. Enemy to the right? Press B. Enemy above? Press Y...and so on. It's the DS version of a twin-stick shooter, except the DS has no sticks.

Fighting the rocks was ok (and almost felt like old school asteroids), but then there are these big "boss" aliens you need to find, and those require patterns that are more sophisticated than the controls will allow. A D-pad and four buttons is not the best way to control a twin stick shooter, and I would often die for stupid reasons like "not being able to shoot diagonally" or "shield mysteriously ran out of juice early".

The whole game is just awful.

I actually took the time to write a brief review on Gamefly, to warn other people about how bad this game is. I couldn't find reviews for it on IGN or Gamespot, which led me to the conclusion that no other professional game reviewer was willing to waste their time playing this piece of dog shit. To all of them I say: "Good move" and to anyone reading this via a google search for reviews on this game, I say: "You're welcome". I have suffered through parts of this game so that you don't have to.

Overall Score? 1/10. Pure crap. I had no fun with this game at all and I'm sorry I rented it. It honestly felt like a cell phone game from 5 or 6 years ago when cell phones first started running crappy games....and given the choice, I'd rather play cell phone solitaire or Tetris than this piece of garbage.

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