When was the last time you played a really good game? I’m not talking about whether it runs at 60 frames per second, has all the nifty lighting effects or uses the latest state of the art graphics engine. What I’m talking about here folks is FUN. Break a game down to its most basic level and then ask yourself, “How much enjoyment am I really having?” Because if you’re not having fun, no amount of bleeding edge technology is going to save it from being an uninspired game.

Game Description: A modern take on the retro arcade shooter. Super Mega Space Blaster Special is a fast-paced frantic blast of a shoot ’em up (shmup). Played alone or in local coop the game is addictive and will keep you coming back to unlock the next ship or beat your high-score.

Genre: Shooter / Shoot’em up
Platform: PC (Steam)
Developer: Bare Knuckle Development
Release Date: June 2019
Website: BareKNuckle

That’s why it’ s so refreshing to come across a gem like this in a crowded field of mediocrity because it proves once again, good games do exist as long as you’re willing to invest the time finding them. For some top-down 2D shooting action in the final frontier, you can’t go wrong with Super Mega Space Blaster Special by indie developer BareKnuckle Studios.

From a gameplay perspective, there’s an awful lot to like in SMSBS. For a start, the action takes place in the vastness of space, with the player in command of a souped-up spaceship charged with wiping out an invading army of asteroids and generic bad guys. The story may not sound so original on the surface, but think about it – how often do we really see games like this anymore? Ever since Asteroids and Galaga hijacked our quarters back in the day, it’s rare that we see any testosterone fuelled game that deviates from the norm.

Second, it’s really good to look at. The 2D environments and objects are nicely rendered and shaded in an old school way that you’d think someone stuck a Super Nintendo inside your PC.

Third, there’s some really good action in here. As we’ve come to expect from games in this genre, SMSBS packs one hell of a punch when the going gets hot and heavy. With asteroids, flying saucers, and enemy ships littering your air space, each mission becomes a veritable turkey shoot with plenty of projectiles and baddies to blow up. Power-ups provide the usual increases in weapons, speed, and special abilities, and each successful mission garners you the opportunity to add even more devastating weapons to your arsenal.

Despite all the positive the game has to offer, SMSBS isn’t everything action dreams are made of. The essential and perhaps most glaring issue is that you can only fight in the confined space of your screen. In other words, if you fly to the edge of the screen, your ship explodes and you die. I would have enjoyed it more if I was able to fly off-screen and emerge on the opposite side just like in the original Asteroids.

Another downside is that your ship is constantly moving with your only input on the ship is steering, accelerating and slowing down. The left trigger button is dedicated to ‘braking/stopping’ but its effect is more of a slowdown since your ship doesn’t necessarily ever stop. I know that space is a gravity-free vacuum but work with me here. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if I was able to move outside the boundaries, but since the play area is limited, I usually find myself strafing and firing from the middle of the screen.

Despite those minor gripes, SMSBS Special still has a lot going for it, especially if you’ve had your fill of bloated 3D shooters that offer more show than substance.

It’s not perfect, but what you do have is a game that’s simple to pick up and too addicting to put down. It also doesn’t cut any corners when it comes down to fun. So if you’ve been searching for a game reminiscent of Asteroids or Galaga, then your search is over. In nearly every area of gameplay (fun factor, immersion, and addictiveness) Super Mega Space Battle Special fulfills this role admirably.

PROS
– Impressive graphics with a cool retro look and feel
– Challenging and addicting gameplay
– Very modest system requirements

 

CONS
– Gameplay area limited to size and resolution of the screen
– Add the ability to make the ship come to a stop
– Because it’s an Indie game, potential buyers may overlook it

OVERALL
A simple fun, challenging, and addicting game that only requires a modest PC to enjoy.

%

Very Good

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