Despite how much I play arcade games, I never really seem to get particularly good at them. Astro Tripper is one of those games, which kinda kicks my ass even on easy-mode, whether I play with the keyboard or the gamepad.
Astro Tripper is an arcade top-down shoot-em-up, with a non-standard control scheme. Like other shoot em ups, you can only shoot in a single direction. Unlike other shoot em ups, you don’t actually have a destination, an you change the direction of your firing by the press of a button. You can only choose to head towards the right or towards the right. You play in arenas, rather than an auto-scrolling screen, each of which has its own quirk. To make it even harder, you can actually fall off the arena on higher difficulties. You also die from being hit. Once. And you get 3 lives. You also lose a life if the time limit lapses. And it’s not a particularly generous limit.
If you have so many ways to die, you need ways to defend yourself – you have 2 upgradeable weapons to aid you in that regard: a straight shooting blue laser and the red spread (hah, it rhymes) weapon. Upgrades drop from defeated enemies at certain points, applying to the weapon you’re currently using. Just like with the direction, you can always switch between the two weapons at the press of a button. That’s about it, really.
The gameplay applies to a small amount of levels – you have 4 worlds to choose from, each of which has you take your 3 initial lives (you get more with points) through 3-4 stages, ending up with a big boss.
There’s also another game mode to play – challenge mode. It’s pretty much a classic score attack mode, where the enemies keep on coming until you die. It’s fun, but a bit dry.
I know the tone of this review is a bit bleak, but really, the game is rather fun – the levels are well balanced so as you don’t get swamped, the attacks feel very satisfying and movement is fast and fluid, though it does take a little bit of getting used to. It’s a pretty light show, and the enemies are easily noticeable against the nice design of the arena you play in. The UI is functional and easy to read, so no complaints there. It’s odd the game states “Single Player” when there is no multiplayer available, so no biggie.
Overall, it’s a fun game, but it’s not particularly long. I’m not one of those players who obsessively play a game through multiple times on higher and higher difficulties in search of higher scores, but I’d guess it would be an awesome game for you if you were.
The game is on Steam at 5 Euros. If you like classic arcade games, you’ll like this too, maybe even love it. If not, I suppose you could give it a try.