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Developer: Upside Down Games
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 002
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 4

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Space Junk is a retro-inspired vector graphics arcade shooter. Players control a spaceman whose job is to clear out all the junk in each zone. The junk breaks into smaller pieces each time that it is hit with shots from the player, making the resulting junk that much harder to avoid and shoot. Players can thrust in any direction, but as this is space, there’s nothing really there to reduce momentum other than other objects out there in space, so players must learn to thrust in other directions in order to change their momentum. There are UFOs that fire at the player, but drop powerups like shields, 1-ups, and more powerful weapons as they survive.

For a game that probably shares its closest historical bloodline with Asteroids, Space Junk is very colorful. The vector graphics use various colors and are all three-dimensional objects, giving everything a level of detail that a game like Asteroids just did not have. The game interestingly supports all 4 device orientations on iPad, for those who wish to play in the way that they choose. The game comes with unlockables for beating its 26 regular levels – a more challenging monochromatic Classic mode and a single life Survival mode. There are also multiple difficulties to play on, with Game Center leaderboards and achievements. The game is a fine example of how to do a retraux title for iOS: it feels like a classic game, but feels very reverential – as well as referential – to those that came before it.

Sometimes the 3D models make it difficult to tell what is a dangerous piece of debris, and what is just a harmless extension of them, like some of the satellites in certain levels. The multiplier system is never really explained – it seems to reward good play, and reduces by one each time the player loses a life, but increasing the multiplier is an enigma. It would be nice to see some of the bonus game modes, the “Ambush” and “Survive!” modes, expanded out into larger challenges with Game Center leaderboards for them for surviving as long as possible. It would at least be a very interesting mode.

As a fan of these “retraux” style games on iOS, I can say that Space Junk is a thoroughly-enjoyable experience on the platform. It’s easy to control, is universal, is well-integrated with Game Center, and of course has that classic style of gameplay that harkens back to the old days of gaming. Fans of old-school shooters definitely need to check out Space Junk.

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