Full Disclosure: I paid for this game like a pleb. You take two months off and the world forgets you even existed. I mean. Because it knew I existed before. Honest.
The ground shook with trepidation as the acrid stench of death and decay creeped closer and closer. No animals remained, they escaped long ago, having wisely chosen life over a few more moments of indentured servitude. The townspeople gathered, scared and confused, not knowing what was to come. Was it a rival war party? Was it a dragon or some other fantastical beast?
No, it’s just my lazy burpy fat ass trying to sit up after summer vacation.
Ahh, twas a good vacation. Sitting on the beach, drinking Mai Tais from an actual glass, watching the world go by. Well, more like sitting on a Canadian beach, drinking Ceasars from a can, watching tourists manage their disappointment, but still, it was a vacation nonetheless.
And now, we’re back. Well, I’m back. @curttheinvert is still away in the motherland, but he will return soon. And now, we’re off on another adventure. Smack, pow, and whatnot.*
Indeed, with Chromosphere Games‘ newly released Royal Cosmonautical Society takes us on a retroesque adventure to the moon and beyond in a floaty platformer visually reminiscent of the arcade version of Asteroids or anything Vectrex, and physically reminiscent of… well… Asteroids but with gravity, and maybe a little like Scumsoft’s Astro Chicken…but like in a goodish way. More on that later.
According to the story, you’re a bunch of space dudes trying to regain your high score on the arcade machine that is the game. In the game, which is set up to look like an old school flickery CRT with glowy vector graphics, you’re a little two-legged big-headed space lander looking dude, that’s fragile as fuck on the top, but surprisingly sturdy if you can get the two legs to hit anything square on. In an “Asteroids with gravity” sort of way, you propel yourself around the map, trying to avoid everything except the landing pad and these glowing stars. Get the stars, get on the pad. Simple, right? I mean maybe if you don’t suck at games. I’m a bit out of practice. (I wasn’t kidding about the booze on the beach. I think it was the beach. It might have been someone’s bathtub. Canada doesn’t have any beach come to think of it. But it was definitely booze. Maybe swish.)
Yeah, it’s one of those ones where you die. A lot. In fact they even have a convenient death counter right on the main menu to remind you of how much of a horrible failure you are every time you load the game. Basically, anything you touch except the stars and the pad will potentially kill you if you touch them with anything but your legs. Even brushing up against them is enough to send you spinning and head first into a wall. Exploding full speed in technocolour ball of pretty lights is pretty fun at first, but I was cursing the screen after about 2 minutes. I kept playing though. Because, Cosmosphere, you ain’t the boss of me.
At the same time though, as difficult as the thruster scheme and level design are, nothing feels unfair. Though most of the game is spent learning how little thrust you can get away with to navigate any obstacle smoothly, it really helps that the controls are very responsive (unlike Astro Chicken). Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still spend a lot of time trying to stabilize yourself (like Astro Chicken), but the level design allows you to take that time to hone your skills before moving on while still presenting a decent difficulty curve. I know this seems basic, but there are so many games out there that just don’t seem to get this knack. Right now I’m up to the second level, and they’ve introduced mines, moving mines and lasers. As frustrating as each item is, they play by their own established rules and I really can’t fault anyone but myself for my horrible games…manship? In the intro videos, you get to pick things up and use it to block the lasers and whatnot, and I’m not sure I’m really ready for that now, but I know I will be by the time I get there.
I like how the level progression works as well. New levels open up when you receive enough glowy orange things, which you receive by finishing levels under a certain time. Most games with this sort of three-star mechanic have larger global thresholds that need to be reached before opening larger areas, but in this case, each and every level has a glowy orange thing requirement for entry. I like this choice, because it’s a subtle way for the game to tell you that you’re shit and you’ll have a bad time if you don’t bone up a little. It might be a little restrictive at times, but it feels like good skill and expectation management to me.
Heh. Bone up.
Oh and not a lot of people are playing now, so it’s easy to get on the scoreboards. Yay 15th place! What whaaaaat!
Anywho, if you’re into physics based floaty challenges I’d consider picking this up. It’s on sale at the moment too.
*Burpy Fresh in no way condones spousal abuse.