Saturday, 10 September 2016 00:00

Super Destronaut Review

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Kickin’ it Old School

At times it can feel like the game industry is running out of ideas, but every once in a while a studio sticks to their roots and kicks it old school by resurrecting a classic like Space Invaders; after all, if a game can be successful after 30+ years, it must be doing something right.

Super Destronaut (PC) is a port of the retro space shooter that was released last year on the Wii U by developer Petite Games. It pays homage to classic arcade games like Galaga and Space Invaders, but with a sleek new paint job.


The style of Super Destronaut is simple, yet adds to the retro gameplay with the brightly colored space ships, dark backgrounds and a glitchy futuristic vibe similar to Geometry Wars. The minimalistic approach lends itself nicely to the fast-paced shooter gameplay, as the screen quickly fills up with brightly animated chaos. Bloom and other slight visual effects give the retro game a modern feel while keeping the game’s hardware requirements light enough you can pick up the game and play for 10-15 minutes whenever you get the itch without having to deal with several splash screens, menus, or loading times on just about any computer. The sound is also ripped straight out of a 1980s arcade cabinet, but without the crackling speakers, and more bass. The authenticity of the music coupled with the familiar firing and damage sounds help transport the player back to a time where games were much simpler, and yet just as addicting.


Super Destronaut consists of 4 basic game modes: 1. Classic Mode, 2. Time Attack, 3. Hardcore Mode, and 4. Multiplayer. Classic Mode is the same old retro space shooter that we all know and love, the irrefutable formula for retro gaming success, in which you battle endless hordes of aliens as they try to annihilate your tiny little spaceship. The aliens don’t move vertically on the screen (like in Space Invaders), but the variety of enemy weapons and randomly generated waves can still make for a chaotic and difficult challenge. There are also larger enemies that provide temporary weapons upgrades when they are killed and a score multiplier that rewards the player for relentless destruction. Time Attack starts the player off with 60 seconds with +15 second bonuses for clearing waves and -15 penalties for taking damage.

Time Attack works, and it adds a new dimension to one of the oldest gaming genres.

Hardcore Mode is identical to the Classic Mode, but with only one life. Unfortunately, there’s no real incentive to play the Hardcore Mode, and I found myself just restarting more often and eventually I just gave in and went back to the Classic Mode where I could rack up higher scores and higher multipliers with less downtime. Finally, Multiplayer is one-player at a time, unlike it’s console counterpart and has no online leaderboards. Other than the assumption that PC gamers are less likely to play local co-op games than console gamers, I’m not sure why the multiplayer was implemented differently in the Steam version than on the Wii U. With such a limited multiplayer feature set, you might as well take turns playing the Classic Mode.

Unfortunately, there are some minor issue that I ran into during my time with the game. First, on a few occasions after clearing a wave of enemies, the next wave would fall straight through the bottom of the screen leaving my spaceship alone and confused on the screen. As a result, I had to restart the round, losing any progress I had made during that session. The issue seems to be isolated to when the power-up alien is killed last in a particular wave, but was frustrating nonetheless. Another issue is that there is no local or online leaderboard, making it difficult to provide any incentive to achieve a high score or compete with friends. In my experience, leaderboards are often just as important as the gameplay when it comes to retro-arcade games, because at the end of the day, it’s all about the bragging rights. The lack of a scoreboard could be forgiven, but it’s impossible to see your highest scores unless you’re currently in a game or right after you die.


The Verdict

Overall, I can easily recommend Super Destronaut because of its attractive price and retro-style gameplay, but an arcade game without any leaderboards and a turn-based multiplayer mode make this game fun for a quick session every once and a while, but nothing that stands out for the long term.

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Mark Klink

Mark is a self-proclaimed nerd who has an undying need to take anything and everything tech related apart at the seams and break it down to the basics. His interest in video games reaches all the way back to his early days of playing Road Rash on the Sega Genesis. Games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Unreal Tournament only fueled Mark’s desire to get his hands dirty in video game design by offering in-depth level editors and a budding modding community. But alas, Mark was never a very good programmer, so when he’s not playing video games, he delves into information security and network engineering including Capture the Flag Tournaments and writing on current cyber security issues.


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