Super Destronaut DX
Post Game Review
(CAUTION MODERATE SPOILERS)
Overview: Retro Invaders
Every now and then, the aging gamers in the crowd just need to rock it old school style. Fortunately, this month has been chock-full of retro goodies for everyone to enjoy. Super Destronaut DX is a second take on the classic Space Invaders with a few extra twists to keep things interesting. Anyone looking for old school gameplay-particularly those brought up in the Atari era-will find themselves in for a treat. Those who can’t stand older games will find nothing of value here however, so in this case, pixelated beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
The idea is simple. It is essentially Space Invaders game-play, which consists of a vertical axis in where your ship fights a formation of alien ships with linear attacks. Thankfully, Super Destronaut DX features a far greater variety of enemy ships with differing capabilities. Enemies will attack with different weaponry in new vectors which will keep you on your toes for quite a while. Hidden in many enemy formations is an orange ship which, when destroyed, contains a temporary weapon which greatly amplifies your ships destructive potential for a short time.
If that isn’t enough, a new hot angle of 2.5D comes into play as what can only be described as grounded alien ships scroll towards you at the bottom of the screen. So not only do you have to deplete the horde of ships as expected, but now you have to also keep your eyes on the background simultaneously to avoid a scrolling collision. Occasionally, a defunct ship will drop down as an indestructible object to body check you. While it both sounds and is simple, the end result is enough to keep you moving the entire time and even seasoned gamers will only last a few minutes per game initially as they adjust.
There are four primary modes within the game: Challenges, Classic Mode, Time Attack, and Multiplayer. The modes are pretty self explanatory with the exception of multiplayer. Multiplayer boils down to a timed score attack with both players sharing the same field. The twist there however is both will race to destroy the orange ship for the weapon boost and the damage potential it brings. I’m positive there is a special hell set aside for me as I crushed my son in this mode for about 30 minutes before I told him which ship dropped the power up.
Gamers of all ages and skill levels should be able to jump right in and be proficient in any mode within minutes making it a good party choice or family game. The smart price of $4.99 also keeps it to a comparable cost/substance ratio for what you’re getting out of it.
It’s nice to occasionally be able to jump right into a game and within seconds have full mastery of the controls. Destronaut’s simplicity in controls without mimicking the stiffness of many Atari titles is laudable. The strafe and shoot mechanic is solid and leaves basically nothing to be desired beyond that. Weapon power-ups transition smoothly and are accompanied by a brief slowdown in gameplay to help make the first few shots count.
The graphics are odd despite being adequate for the title. The in game field is a scrolling grid of dull neon laced with trees and a mountainside intermixed with a “light speed” particle effect across the area. The enemies range from a dull neon to an almost pearlescent bright. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t quite achieve enough contrast and at times it adds a degree of difficulty to the game that I find to be unnecessary. Getting hit because the enemies or their projectiles blend in to the background can be frustrating if you are going for challenges or time attacks.
That being said I think the overall graphical design is nice. It strikes me as a drawn pixelation rather than a forced one which is more akin to an embellished stylistic choice.
The sounds are on point for a retro title but that means two things here. The first, is that it’s appropriate and will remind you of Atari titles. The second is that it’s repetitive and will remind you of Atari titles. The shooting sound, while perfect, will annoy anyone not playing if you have the volume turned up to any respectable level. As I played I could almost feel a “boy turn that down,” approaching from 30 years ago.
A light narration sweeps through the game to remind you when you die, receive a power-up, or lose your multiplier bonus. Oddly, I always think the narrator is telling me “multiplayer lost” rather than a multiplier and I almost look for a lost Galaga ship every time.
The music is apt for the setting, but fails to have enough variation for extended play periods. Since many individuals won’t play this for an extended period of time it will likely not a be a problem for most. Otherwise there’s not enough in this department to comment on.
All in all, Super Destronaut DX is a fun and short arcade title which gives you exactly what you pay for. Everything about it is retro enough to ensure you have a good time if you are into arcade classics. Nothing about it breaks significant ground for it to stand out unfortunately, and it does grow repetitious making it a hard choice for modern gamers. But, if you are like me and enjoy the occasional trip back down memory lane and wreck your kids with the home field advantage, Super Destronaut DX is definitely worth a weekend of fun.
Super Destronaut DX warrants a 3 out of 5(60%) from me. It’s a solid Space Invader homage which will find a niche crowd for sure, but will probably not warrant much attention from the general gaming community. They definitely could have added more multiplayer modes, varied music, and scenery amongst other things to flesh this title out some more. Fortunately, it’s still fun for what it attempts to achieve and can be a great party game to add to a list of couch-fueled competition.