Astro Blaster: April featured game
I remember playing Astro Blaster many years ago but it became one of those titles that I overlooked in recent times.
I’m a member of a Sinclair Spectrum group on Facebook, The Spectrum Group UK, and they set seasonal challenges with a different game each week. The object of the challenge is usually to get the highest score amongst the members taking part. This week the game is Quicksilva’s 1983 title, Astro Blaster. Astro Blaster is a space shooter conversion from the SEGA arcade game of the same name.
Not too unlike many other space shooters, Astro Blaster fits well into the genre of the time. It uses similiar gameplay styles of many other games of that era, games such as Space Invaders, Galaxian/Galaga, Gorf and Phoenix. you must shoot your way through levels of alien spaceships, blast your way through asteroid fields (space potatoes) and finally defeat the mothership (giant space haggis). Once you’ve done that you rinse and repeat with a different set of alien ships before eventually looping your way back through to the first set.
The game takes no prisoners so don’t expect an easy ride. There’s no immunity if you’re hit, you can lose all five lives in the blink of an eye (and I do, often. See the gif above). There is an element of skill needed, especially when flying through the asteroid fields, but there’s also a lot of dumb luck involved. The game is difficult but also a lot of fun, it’s one of those games where you just have to have another go. I really am impressed with what they’ve done with 16K of memory. They’ve kept it simple and enjoyable, even if a little frustrating.
Move and shoot the crap out of everything
Graphically they’ve done a pretty good job for a 16K game released in 1983. As you’d expect it doesn’t compare with its arcade counterpart admittedly. With smooth animation the sprites are colourful and suffer with very little scroll stutter. There’s a lot of data fitted into that 16K.
Now this was nice. None of those nasty beeps that you would normally expect from a pre-128K AY enabled Spectrum for instance. The sound effects sound digitised, certainly making for a refreshing change. There’s no music but, once again, 16K. There’s nothing going to compare to the sound of that crunch as you’re hit by a flying space potato, at least not on a 16K Spectrum in 1983.
|Gameplay:||(4.0 / 5)|
|Graphics:||(3.5 / 5)|
|Sound:||(4.0 / 5)|
|Final Score:||(3.8 / 5)|
Release Year: 1983
Genre: Arcade: Shoot-em-up
System: Spectrum 16K/48K
- Keys (6,7 & 0)
- Interface II (by selecting keys)
“Munky” is a computer engineer with over 20 years experience. He has worked in both public and private sectors, mostly in the education sector, specialising in operating systems and mobile technology. He has carried out work for IBM, RM, Carillion, Capita, Click and Birmingham Metropolitan College as well as running his own I.T. Services business. He is a retro gaming enthusiast, especially when it comes to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. He is a parent, a grandparent, and a bit of a child at heart.