Developer: ASTRAWARE LIMITED
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.00.000
Device Reviewed On: iPad

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

If Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space looks familiar to you, that’s because you may have seen it before on your Mac or PC. It’s a game that has been around in various incarnations for several years, but has only now made the transition to the iPad. So, is it worth your while or is this just another retread looking for new life on a new device? We’ll see.

Whether or not you’ve played Weird Worlds, you’ll recognize its gameplay style if you’ve played ANY computer-based space game (like Star Command, for those retro gaming fans out there) in the last few decades. The premise is an old one: you command a small space ship and must travel from planet to planet, buying and scavenging for materials to sell on other planets and space stations. Along the way you upgrade your ship and make all sorts of friends and enemies, all of whom come into conflict at some point or another during the game. Your survival and success depend on your ability to nurture the best allies while also upgrading your shields and weapons like crazy. Sound familiar? Thought so!

Weird Worlds is played out on a similarly-typical overhead view of a star/galaxy map. Touching a planet allows you the choice to review info about it or plot a course to it. The upper left-hand corner of the screen can be expanded to see your ship’s weapons, shields, engines and cargo and manipulate all of them if need be. There is a minimal amount of ambient music and occasional radio chatter and other sound effects, and these contribute to a general atmosphere without interfering with or hindering gameplay in any way.

The primary problem with Weird Worlds is that it was clearly not designed to be played on a touch device. Kudos to the developers for their attempts, but they are just not there yet. Many of the contextual menus are just too small, making it often difficult to even click/close out of the menus when they appear. Likewise, the on-screen text (the story, such as it is, is not told using any voice work) is tiny and eye-straining. Almost all aspects of the game point to its desktop roots, and while the game often looks good and plays fast (a typical game runs no more than 30 minutes – a clear differentiation of Weird Worlds from the typical epically long space games of yore), it’s difficult to overcome these limitations without becoming frustrated.

Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space is a welcome retro-styled game. We could just do without the retro control scheme and typefaces.



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