Gone are the days of the arcade space shooter. Games like Asteroid and Sinistar that blew the minds of the children of the 80’s and seemed so revolutionary for the time. And they were revolutionary. Before the days of esports, the best way to compete at videogames was to head to the local arcade and go for the high score on the cabinet. It wasn’t for cash, it was for bragging rights and the love of the game. As time went by and the genre evolved, piloting a little ship around a two-dimensional plane became a lost art. The simple-yet-effective concept became overshadowed by the addition of a z-axis and the invention of the First Person Shooter. Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo, pays homage to those days and adds a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor to boot.
With a long-winded name like Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo, the game clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously, but that’s why it pays homage perfectly to the games it’s inspired by. It was the 80’s, and if it wasn’t campy, it wasn’t working. With the medium still finding its footing in the world, what seems goofy and ridiculous now was mind-blowing back in the day. The line “I am Sinistar, beware, I live!” struck fear into the hearts of players everywhere in 1982. While there’s no spaceship face monster in Super Mega Space Blaster to fear, there is that same sense of campy goodness.
The game is steeped in that sense of nostalgia, almost a bit too much at times. Because like Asteroids and other games of the same genre, the controls are hard to get used to. They’re not necessarily bad, it was just a clear design choice that the developer went with. Like Asteroids you could only move directly forward, with the ability to boost or break, and tank-control style turning. The hard part is when you overshoot your target, and the momentum carries you into an incoming rocket. It’s the type of control scheme that takes time to master, but once figured out allows for some slick moves that are satisfying to pull off. But that doesn’t change the fact that it feels clunky and counterintuitive at first. It’s a matter of learning to work with the controls, instead of the controls working for you.
There’s a nice amount of variety in the game as well. Along with the standard game mode and co-op, there’s the self explanatory Survival and One Shot modes which are plenty of fun in their own right. There’s also a dogfighting mode called, “To the Death.” And a little hidden gem called, “Save the Colony” that puts a fun twist on the standard “defend the mothership” gameplay that is typical for these types of games. The diversity isn’t only with the game modes though. There’s several ships to unlock, each with their own strengths and weaknesses that let you change up your playstyle to what you enjoy the most. The different ships also play off well with the difficult control scheme. The slower, tankier ships are better for beginners, with
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true homage to the days of the arcade without a catchy chiptune soundtrack, and there’s no doubt that you’ll be humming the menu theme for a while after you stop playing. It’s nothing groundbreaking but it is definitely a solid OST that does this game, and the classics, justice.
Games like Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo are special. With a one-man development team, it exists solely because of the passion that the dev has for the medium, and it shows. The game is loaded with personality and just the right amount of eccentricity. From top to bottom it’s clear that a ton of love was put into this project, and if nothing else, it’s worth playing for the giggle of getting achievements like “Enemies Smenemies.”
Pays homage, but with tongue in cheek: SMSBST takes all the quirkiness of its developer, and the classics it’s inspired by, and turns it into a game with a whole lot of personality.
Clunky controls: Intentional or not, it takes a while to get used to piloting your spacecraft.
Whether you got to experience the arcade days first hand, and want a nostalgic throw-back. Or just need a fun distraction that will make you smile, Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo is a solid game with a lot of love put into it.