Back in 1979 small coins were disappearing by the dozen. This strange phenomenon wasn't the work of nifty fingered thieves though, it was an arcade machine that was taking the money from gamers' pockets all over the world.
That game was Atari's Asteroids. On the App Store there have been many imitations, not least the Space Miner games which were also published by Atari, and even an original emulated version thanks to the Atari Greatest Hits collection. Now they're back with a brand new update to the classic game and it's never looked better.
Asteroids: Gunner still carries the exact same formula that made the original so compelling. Taking the helm of a small ship, the player is tasked with destroying a series of large asteroids that break into ever smaller pieces before disappearing completely. It doesn't attempt to do anything clever with this and turns out to be all the better for it.
Of course, there are some changes to the formula, as you'd expect from a game that has over 30 years on the original. Some asteroids carry gold, which can be used to unlock more powerful weapons and slots to place them. These, along with health bars and extra lives, can be bought in the shop.
A link to this store appears for a short time after each wave is completed, allowing you to build up your ship before the next, more difficult wave approaches. The system works well and is bolstered by an In App payment system for those who are happy to pay in real coins to upgrade. It never forces you to pay, however, as most upgrades can be earned from grabbing the gold as quickly as possible. Considering this game is freemium, you're getting a lot of fun for nothing in return.
Two new areas are also available to unlock via the In App purchase system, along with a few ships (and possibly more to come). The need for these is questionable when you consider that they don't add a tremendous amount to the game, but it's always nice to have the option should you tire of seeing the same starfield every time you play.
Graphically, Asteroids: Gunner is a nice looking game, particularly on the iPad, but not stunning. The backgrounds do a good job of looking suitably spacey and the ships and rocks are modelled well, but this isn't the sort of game that stands out for its graphics. Sounds, too, provide a perfectly good modern day version of an old arcade game, with warning signals, explosions and a little cash 'ping' when you pick up certain items.
While you could berate Atari's game for being too basic, it's as much an asset as it is a criticism. Those looking for an update to the classic Asteroids will find much to admire in Asteroids: Gunner, especially with the agreeable freemium model in place.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 7
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 7
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