What can you say about a game that pretty much tells you everything about itself in the title alone? A Space Shooter for Two Bucks is exactly as the title describes: a classic yet styled space shooter game distributed on the PlayStation Network for two dollars. This no-frills package that does exactly what it sets out to do which is deliver a solid “shmup” experience for an incredibly low price. You know just by reading the title what is in store for you before you play the game, but it just so happens that the game offers a lot more than it has any right to for the price Frima Games and Sony is asking.
There is a lot to like about A Space Shooter; first off, being as though it is intended to be a simple game, it doesn’t take itself seriously. The developers don’t hide the fact, at any point throughout the game, that it is a run-of-the-mill shooter for two bucks. Get used to hearing that, because not only will I refer to that fact numerous times throughout this review, but the game even reminds you of that fact quite often throughout the campaign. There is a story of sorts laid in order to give the game some foundation; you play as Commander P. Jefferson and, along with your AI sidekick Edgar, proceed to wander the galaxy taking out any and all “alien scum” that you come across. It’s simple... it’s straight forward... and it works.
As Commander Jefferson, you will select from a variety of missions laid out across a map of the galaxy with numerous levels that vary in difficulty. As you play through levels and destroy enemies, “space remnants” and power-ups will be scattered across the screen which you can collect in order increase your firepower or to spend at an in game store known as the Alien Annihilator VIP Club. Some stages feature a “notorious" boss which is marked with a wanted poster on the galaxy map screen. Defeating these bosses awards your ship with a new special weapon which you can use in limited quantities on future missions. As far as power-ups go, the game includes a few power-ups that enhance your ships ability for a limited amount of time, including additional shields, altered and enhanced projectiles, missiles, and even the ability to slow down all of the enemies on the screen. There is a wide variety of items that you can purchase within the store, all of which make your ship stronger and more effective against the increasingly difficult stages you will experience as you travel further into the galaxy. Some of your purchases will directly affect your ship while others increase the effectiveness of the power-ups that you collect during each stage.
The enhancement options for your ship are numerous, and the variety widens as you purchase more and more. The longer that you play, the more that the game offers you. It is a simple yet extremely effective means. Any improvements that you make to your ship during the course of the story mode, including the natural progression of your ship’s hull which improves over time, is carried over into the game’s survival mode which challenges players to last as long as they can without dying. All of the modes are constructed and designed to keep you coming back and playing them repeatedly; whether you are simply trying to boost the high scores that you set or perhaps hoarding up space remnants to buy that next “must have” upgrade from the in-game store, there is always a reason to play them over and over again. The replay value that stems from this, assuming that you like this type of game, is insane considering that it is only a two dollar game. Frima has also included an assortment of in-game achievements to add more substance to the game. Unfortunately, these are only tracked within the game and do not correspond to actual PSN trophies.
The only complaint that I can cite with the game is the responsiveness of the ship during gameplay. The ship controls very loosely which is quite the contrast from most shmup games. The more intense stages of the game border on being classified as “bullet hell” style, which requires precise navigation am maneuvering between the insanely large amount of enemy shots. Since the ship feels so “loose”, this becomes almost impossible to do.There is a slight lag in the responsiveness of the ship that pretty much eliminates any chance you have of making it through these bullet-barrages unscathed. This bothered me a lot early on as it made it very difficult to complete stages without dying; however, with the various upgrades that came from both natural progression in the story and from purchases in the store, your ship becomes capable of withstanding these barrages and absorbing the damage in manageable. Tighter controls would have improved the game immensely but unfortunately you are left with this heavy feeling ship that doesn’t respond as well as you hope it would. You will get use to this over time, but I cannot help but wonder what could have been with a more responsive ship.
Considering that the title is only $1.99, A Space Shooter for Two Bucks is an incredibly solid game from top to bottom. Frima Studios has thrown together an amazingly complete package that is great for getting that “quick fix” if you have a few brief moments to game. The game is a simple, yet completely satisfying, package with a couple of modes to offer players in order to keep things fresh. If I owned a PSP, this would definitely be one Mini that I would keep in heavy rotation when I am on the go. The classic style of the game may turn a lot of gamers off as it relies on the old-school desire to set and beat high scores, but fans of that genre of gaming will find their selves occupied for quite a while. If you even remotely like shooter-style games, you can’t go wrong with A Space Shooter for Two Bucks.
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