If your ideal gaming setup is laying about the sofa in your undies while Friday night’s hangover sits uncomfortably on your forehead – you need Astro Tripper. Like many of the PSN shooters influenced by the two-dimensional blasts of yesteryear, Astro Tripper is a neat mix of old-school points-chasing and new-school visuals. Where Super Stardust HD took its cues from Asteroids, Astro Tripper nabs the basics of its DNA from the arcade classic Defender.
Your little ship travels left and right, guided hazardously by the momentum of its thrusters. Stop powering your ship and it’ll still drift. While Defender had you floating in space, Astro Tripper harnesses the action to a series of platforms and runways. At first these are simple, flat surfaces but soon ramps, mounds and inclines appear to hamper the trajectory of your shots, affect the ship’s movement and opening up tactical angles.
The core gameplay is a frantic blast, but one that requires a little more patience and tactics than its rival Super Stardust HD. The power-up system is simple enough. There are two fire types – an arc laser and a straight laser – and each can be upgraded by collecting orbs.
Learning the layout of the levels and the shortcuts, ramps and turrets is essential. More so, understanding the aliens and their various forms and attack patterns will reap rewards. Stars will transform into ship-seeking bombs given time, but they’ll also score you more points and are easier to link into combos. It’s a useful reward for the inevitable risk.
This is a solid shooter. The HD visuals are sparkly enough without looking amazing and the sound effects carry all the usual booms and zaps. Adding runways to the Defender-style gameplay, anchoring the action, means that each level offers a different, new challenge. While it’s easy to class Astro Tripper as a casual shooter; aim for a high score and real skill is needed. A decent diversion but hardly essential.
May 4, 2009