Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4, iPad 1
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Alien Space Retro is a retro-inspired re-release of Alien Space. Featuring largely the same core content with a few tweaks, this dual-stick shooter has players trying to kill aliens and asteroids by shooting them with either their default weapons or special limited ammo weapons that do more damage. Players have a shield and hull bar; the ship starts to take damage as the shield depletes. The game features a campaign mode where players can upgrade their ships as they advance, and a survival mode where players pick up upgrades mid-game.
The vector-graphics-inspired visual aesthetic helps the game out - it makes everything more distinct, and pop out better against the background. The game is still a universal app with Retina Display support, and is available for $0.99, less than the standard version. To offset the cost difference, the game features a variety of in-app purchases, including a new game mode, Lost in Space. This mode has no upgrades or weapons, just a lot of asteroids, with the goal being to survive as long as possible, collecting points crystals along the way.
The campaign mode allows players to resume from any level with all credits intact, and able to be reassigned to any upgrades. This means that the upgrade decision tree has no tangible impact on gameplay. If this was persistent, and credits earned while playing and replaying levels could be put toward further upgrades, it could make the upgrade system actually worthwhile, and worth strategizing about. There are quite a few weapons available via in-app purchases; having some way to unlock them in gameplay would be better than being forced to purchase them, although the developer prefers this method of in-app purchases to consumable items. The game suffers from some occasional crashes on the iPod touch 4, and if it happens at the end of a level, then that level is not counted as being saved.
Alien Space Retro's strength comes not just from its aesthetically-pleasing vector graphics, but also its gameplay, which is at times deeper than other dual-stick shooters. While those who played the original Alien Space won't have much new content to experience here without paying additional in the app, those who haven't would do well to check the game out now at its $0.99 price.