Before I begin with Retrobooster, a new space shooter from new game designer “Really Slick”, I should begin with my own bias. After all, even people who do this for a living have preferences when it comes to gameplay. Some might even call ours a touch more reasonable than your average Madden fan, after all, we deal in bulk volume like a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon.
One of my particular personal hatreds is a game where I am my own enemy. This is where controls make it so difficult to play that I’m left feeling like a moron. It’s usually found in handheld games, where the biggest challenge within the game is literally learning how to play the game. Nothing is more off putting to me. I want to play the stupid thing, not swear at a screen for two hours while I adjust to a slow learning curve. Retrobooster has this in spades.
I also feel the first 30 minutes of any game will tell you how much you’re going to enjoy it. Narration by Ron Pearlman, for example, tells me that I will be loosing days of my life to a given title. My first 30 minutes with Retrobooster were spent swearing, crashing, killing many innocents, swearing again, walking away from the game, tweaking control settings, swearing and finally plugging in an Xbox 360 controller.
Of course, after I did that, the game finally got a chance to be played. Terribly designed for a keyboard, the game flowed much smoother with an attached controller. Was my patience and commitment to my job rewarded with an impeccable gameplay experience? No, but it was actually pretty good.
Retrobooster allows you to helm a ship bent on destroying a galactic system of invading aliens. That’s my clever way around saying Space Invaders, and yes, most of the game is found in the solving of puzzles and the mastering of nearly herculean controls.
Yet, visually, the game hits its mark. Excellent skylines, decently animated planets all join a truly wondrous space backdrop. It’s a decent site to behold; especially considering the game is a small time offering. The soundtrack also finds a place. Thumping electronica weaves you in and out of each level and combined with the theme and decent visuals, drug users of the world unite at all the possibilities.
As for storyline, it’s scrawled on cards etched out within the skyline. Grammatical and wording issues unite and combine with a control scheme that makes it nearly impossible to move without looking directly at your ship. This means you will loose many a life trying to initially view the plot and the end result is that it’s not much worth it. Kill aliens, save human shaped things, try not to die.
Marketed as a PC game, I can’t see a reason why this should not be strictly kept to the handheld and mobile platforms. It’s not a PC game. The control scheme on a PC is difficult and awkward and will cause many more than me to give up and frustratingly swear. The graphics are nice but easily translatable to the mobile market and the quick death and level loading systems of the game are perfect for the casual gamer crowd. It’s set up nearly identically to an arcade flier. I trust PC games to bring me hours of enjoyment, and while I could see fiddling with this in a public restroom to block out the sounds of people walking in and out, I simply hate it on my PC. It does not inspire longevity.
But, I want to give credit where credit is due. It’s got a nice system of gameplay, decent graphics and a fun soundtrack. Those out there who love games that have a steep learning curve but give you full control will gravitate towards Retrobooster. As a mobile title, this game has great potential, but as a PC game, I’m giving it a wide pass. I don’t need more reasons in my life to chuck things at other things.
This review is based on a review copy of the PC version of Retrobooster developed and published by Really Slick