Does anyone remember the 1979 arcade classic, Asteroids? It’s a simple game in which you move a spaceship around and shoot various blobs (asteroids) as they come flying in from all sides, splitting into smaller pieces as you blast them with your projectiles – creating smaller obstacles to avoid or destroy. Well, Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo is a modernised version of this classic format complete with new game modes, challenges, unlockables, and even a two-player local co-op option.
From developer Bare Knuckle Development here in Manchester, Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo is an enhanced version of their original game, Super Mega Space Blaster Special, which was released on Steam back in June 2019.
Just like arcade games of yesteryear, Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo has a story but it’s not really integrated into the gameplay, it just serves as exposition as to what you’re doing piloting a ship in space. Basically, Earth has become a toxic wasteland and the government has secretly sent nine massive unmanned ships into space in order to seek out a new home for humanity. One of the ships has found a planet but has come under attack from the creatures who currently there (rightfully so as we’re now the invaders).
However, each of the nine ships housed a platoon of smaller ships which can be controlled remotely from Earth (which is convenient), so it’s time to go all ‘War Games’ on the beings attacking your motherships and take control of one of the fighter ships. It’s your job to protect the mothership, save the colony and destroy everything that moves without getting yourself killed. Are you up for the task?
Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo is basically Asteroids with more modernised visuals and some interesting new modes thrown in. The mechanics in all the modes are very similar, with a few differences, but the core gameplay is identical – fly in all directions and shoot the missiles, asteroids and alien ships. Just like the classic game, destroying the asteroids will result in them breaking up into smaller pieces which can, and often will, proceed to float into you and kill you if you’re not careful.
The majority of the ships you control work like the original game, having you only shoot forwards, but there are a few which change the game into a twin-stick shooter by allowing you to aim with the right Stick as you fire.
As well as purchasing new ships with the money you earn, each having its own stats, weapons, and initial loadout, there are also power-up items which appear within the game. These offer various benefits such as changing your projectile type, giving you a giant lightsaber-like beam, giving you a bomb, or charging your shield. Also, the unusual yet innovative mechanic of this shmup has to be the fact you only have limited bullets. I’m not talking about special bullets either, I mean your standard weapon only has a limited amount of shots before you’re left with nothing to defend yourself with.
This helps set Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo apart from other shmups as they’re usually games in which you hold down the fire button and simply move about the screen and hope you avoid the oncoming barrage of projectiles. This game is a little more strategic in that you have to resist shooting non-stop and try to be accurate with your shots. Thankfully though, almost everything you destroy will drop either a power-up or bullets for you to collect and use, so you shouldn’t find yourself in too much trouble until the screen becomes populated with missiles, asteroids, bullets and aliens at around the five-minute mark.
So, what are these five game modes which are included within the Turbo edition of this arcade shmup? They are:
Protect Mother: You must protect the mothership by blasting any incoming attacks towards the ship. This can be played either in one or two-player mode and I personally found this one to be quite hard. The mothership takes up about 1/5th of the screen at the bottom and you need to destroy all missiles or asteroids which are heading towards it, all whilst you personally avoid the rest of the obstacles around the screen. The more enemies you kill, the more power-ups you can request to be shot out of your mothership below you, giving you a fighting chance against your foes.
Survival: This is the classic Asteroids gameplay mode and the one I’ve spent the longest playing. Again this is for one or two players and this mode doesn’t really have a purpose other than staying alive as long as you can. There is one major difference between this and the original game though, your ship is broken! Do you know how I said that bullets are limited? Well, in Survival Mode you can’t stop shooting! This means you have to control your ship and aim to destroy as much as possible in order to obtain more bullets and power-ups. Having this handicap raises the impact and difficulty of the mode.
Save the Colony: Earth sent a colony ship to the Motherships coordinates before they realised there were hostile enemies nearby. As such, the colony ship was destroyed and all of the people on board were sucked out into space – it’s up to you to save them all. This plays like the original game only with a hint of ‘Defenders’ as you have to collect the stranded survivors and place them into the portal in order to save them. There are 33 people to save and it’s a lot harder than it sounds as you’re looking out of the crew (who can be floating around or locked in cages) all whilst avoiding the countless obstacles ready to smash into you. This can also be played by one or two players.
One-Shot: As you can probably imagine, based upon the name, this mode involves controlling a ship with a single shot. This mode isn’t for a single player though, it’s two-player local multiplayer only – a dog fight between two players whose only goal is to try and take the other person out with their single projectile.
To The Death: This mode is the second one which can only be played in local multiplayer between two players. It’s you versus them, take out their Mothership or chosen fighter ship whilst they’re trying to do the same. Unlike One-Shot mode, this one gives you full control and encourages you to create combos as you fight each other to the death.
Each of the five modes all have their own spin on the gameplay, turning a classic format into five entertaining styles to play either solo (the first three) or with a friend (all five) with it’s quick and easy pick-up-and-play mechanics. They all have their own individual online leaderboards which can be shown as worldwide or how you compare against your friends, so if you don’t have anyone to play with you then you can still try and work your way to the top of the leaderboards.
As well as the PSN trophies (which aren’t obtainable in a few minutes, unlike other similar games), there are also a bunch of built-in ‘Challenges’ and ‘Space Missions’ to complete. These range from unlocking ships to achieving a certain score with a certain ship or destroying the enemies in a certain way. Each one that’s completed will reward you with in-game currency which can be used to unlock new ships or upgrading your power-ups on all levels.
There are a few bonuses you can buy which change the gameplay as well such as a new chiptune song to listen to and allowing you to fly off one side of the screen and come in on the opposite as you can do in the original Asteroids game. A few modes already let you do this but the Protect Mother mode doesn’t, you die if you touch the edge of the screen – so having this ‘ability’ makes that mode a little easier.
I personally like games which have some sort of progression or Roguelike-style games where you have to play, collect something, die, boost your stats, then try again. Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo isn’t technically a Roguelike but it is a game you need to play numerous times in order to get good at it. As you earn and find coins you’ll be able to buy better ships and/or boost your power-ups in order to make your next run a little smoother. I know the developers are working on a Metroidvania game at the moment but if they come back to make another shmup, more progression would be very welcome in a game like this.
Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo is a fun and simple shmup which was clearly inspired by the classic Asteroids arcade game. With another player, you have access to five gameplay modes, three as a co-op partner (which can be played in single-player) and two in face-to-face combat situations. Despite having limited progression within the game, you can purchase new ships and upgrade the power-ups you find as you destroy the various missiles and debris which are hurling towards you as you defend your Mothership or save the colony. Great for short-burst gaming which will keep you entertained for a while as you try to get better every time you die.
For the price, you can’t go wrong with Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo, it has a surprising amount of depth despite the simple-looking aesthetics and old-school gameplay. The progression system and multiple modes will keep you coming back for more, either on your own or with another player. If you’re looking for a nostalgiac game with modern visuals and mechanics, look no more, pick up this game today.
My only complaint – why isn’t this game also on the Vita, there’s a lot of dedicated fans out there who will buy pretty much any new release, so I feel the developer should have put it on there as well – maybe as Cross-buy like Ratalaika Games does?
Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo£3.69
- - Thanks to the core gameplay, there's a lot of nostalgia in the gameplay, despite modern mechanics added into the mix
- - Five modes (three if playing on your own) for you to try and master so you can unlock new ships and boost your power-ups
- - Varying gameplay based on what ship you pick - some are classic which can only shoot forwards and some operate as a twin-stick shooter
- - Fast-paced and addictive gameplay
- - Great value for money as you'll keep coming back for more
- - If you're not a fan of old-school arcade titles, you may find the appeal short due to the limited gameplay style
- - No PS Vita edition!