App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Simulations have always had a tendency to catch my eye. I’m not sure if it’s because of how odd they can be or because of how different they can be from the typical “video game,” but something about them always interests me. Even the ridiculous stuff like Desert Bus. But does the world really need an interactive recreation of spacewalking? Not the sci-fi style spacewalking with lasers and robots, but the real kind that involves painstakingly minute trajectory adjustments? Kind of yes and kind of no.
Astronaut Spacewalk is exactly that; an astronaut that spacewalks. Players control all the little rockets on the giant space-faring backpack and attempt to do astronaut things like repair and align satellites. While I’m sure there are plenty more minutiae involved with actually operating an MMU (Manned Maneuvering Unit), what’s here is fairly thorough. Tapping one of several marked zones on the left side of the screen will move up, down, forward and so on while zones on the right control pitch and spin.
Playing a level in Astronaut Spacewalk can take quite a long while, but it’s a remarkably serene experience. There’s nothing hostile around and no hopelessly bleak situations to miraculously escape from. Energy for electronics (i.e. an automatic all-stop feature) must be monitored along with oxygen levels, but there’s very little to get the heart racing. It might seem dull to some ADD-addled modern gamers, but it’s also a special kind of interesting.
The rather impressive and fairly stringent adherence to zero-G physics is certainly great for people who love arduously specific details, but it could also be perceived as boring. Like super-boring. Simply coming to grips with the rather complex controls – not to mention the need to use short bursts and constantly move in the opposite direction in order to halt movement – can take quite a bit of effort. However, even with experience a single level can take quite a few minutes to complete. Again, it’s not so bad for enthusiasts but it takes a certain special kind of appreciation to accept.
Some simulations are much more heavy-handed than others, and Astronaut Spacewalk is certainly an example of such. It’s got a plodding pace and very unforgiving physics, but it’s also relaxing and oddly compelling. Whether or not someone enjoys the stellar hiking depends largely on their desire for action, naturally, but if nothing else this is a pretty interesting addition to the genre.