Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo is ace. I’ve been wanting to write that all last week, but I find my skills as a juggler has been pretty poor and what the fairer sex say about men not being able to multitask is true. But if you saw my output last week, you’d at least give me a cookie.
Like my news piece on the very same title, I said that I would review the game, given a chance. That chance often means chucking some money at the eShop like I tend to do, but the wonderful people at Bare Knuckle Development kindly provided me with a review code so I could caress your eyeballs with some pretty words and witty anecdotes. Well, I don’t know about either of those, but I can certainly give you my appraisal.
I’ll be honest, as I always am, I was a little apprehensive of playing Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo. When I first saw the trailer I was excited as it reminded me of the games I played growing up and the music fit perfectly well with the visuals. This wasn’t going to be another Death Stranding as such, but these are the kind of games I regularly come back to. I was worried. Have I hyped it up to then feel let down? I’m all for indie titles and love a good story that one person did everything in their spare time, but if it’s a turkey, it’s a turkey.
My initial impressions weren’t that great, to be fair. There appeared to be a lot going on with the menu screens and it was hard to read due to the choice of font and various colours. Being a little impatient, I wanted a quick go first then I would come back to things to digest.
It was relatively easy to start a new game, but there was a lot to look at and I thought Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo might be more complicated than anticipated. Nope. It’s very much what I expected, and that’s a good thing.
Once I was able to choose my starting ship, I opted for the Protect Mother mode. At the bottom of the screen is a semi-circle ship which you need to protect from incoming missiles and kamikaze spaceships.
With the spaceship you begin with, you aim with the left stick and drift along the screen with a variation of the brake and boost buttons, making sure you don’t collide with anything, notably the walls of the screen. Should you crash or get hit, it’s game over.
There was an addictive element at first. Initially, it was my pride as dying in less than a minute felt pathetic – worse when I saw an online leaderboard where I was near the bottom. While I don’t aspire to be the top, I do like a challenge and made efforts to get better. The thing was running out of ammo (when not being killed).
I wasn’t getting it, but after a few minutes, I realised that the debris I was trying to avoid was ammo and that if I pressed a corresponding button on the controller, the mothership would launch all sorts of goodies like power-ups and shields. I was lasting longer now. Something I’ve always wanted to be able to say.
After a while, I was climbing the ranks (nothing to write home about) and saw that I had accumulated a decent number of coins. These can be used to purchase new ships and other goodies. Without thinking about it, I assumed that the weapon power-ups would be granted temporarily, so invested in a new ship. I bought the Weevil which had a bit more ammo capacity than the starter, the Nibula, plus it had another onboard gun. By now I wanted to try something new so went on to the Survival Mode.
In Survival Mode, it’s as exactly as one would expect: survive. However, your ship by default is on autofire and doesn’t have unlimited ammo so if you try to avoid incoming enemies and ballistics, you’ll still have to venture out to collect more ammo.
What I didn’t realise, as a numpty was the twin-stick element. I nudged the right stick and it aimed when I wanted. Mildly embarrassing but it upped my game a little. Do note that not all ships can do this though as they have front-facing turrets. Again, if you crash into the walls, you’re dead.
Next up was Save the Colony. A bit similar to the Survival Mode as you have 101 things flying at you but a few differences. First up, you have to collect astronauts lost in space by flying into them, then dropping them off at the bottom of the screen. It’s not set to autofire, but… you can fly off the screen like classic Asteroids! The first reference to the classic arcade title. This made a massive difference and Save the Colony was my fave mode. Also, the Worms like voices of the grateful astronauts when you save them were cute.
Space, The Final Frontier
After a few more coins, I went back to the weapons screen and realised I could upgrade the power-ups and this applies throughout. Also, if you save enough coins, you can remove the ‘death walls’ with the warp engine.
So, in Protect Mother and Survival you can take out this hazard with 50 coins. That’s quite a lot though and takes longer to collect than you expect. You can earn them in-game when building up combos, but one of the best ways to obtain them is through challenges.
Challenges are much like in-game achievements and as you progress, you unlock the next stage like shoot x number of ships in x seconds. My current challenge is perhaps the hardest so far; survive for 1 minute whilst holding the boost button (ZR). It’s not easy and I have to admit, while close to the hair-pulling stage, I keep coming back to better myself. And climb the leaderboard.
Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo is jam-packed with challenges and unlockables to keep you going. I’ve been playing on and off and anticipate that this will be one of my go-to multiplayer games, reason being; Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo is very much a two-player game as it is solo.
There are variations of Save The Colony, Protect Mother, Survival and two exclusive modes that are two-player only. The first is One Shot, a dog fight in space where you only get one shot, surprisingly, and the second is To The Death; you have the option to defeat the other player by killing them or their mothership.
Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo Verdict?
Depending on who you play with, it’s a lot of fun and I have to admit that we opted for the handheld mode a couple of times and while the graphics are small, it’s totally playable but very hectic.
Visually, it’s an indie treat. It’s not a typical pixel art budget title but hand-drawn. The controls do feel a little awkward getting used to, but that’s more in handheld mode on the joy-cons, though getting accustomed to boosting off-screen without crashing is witchcraft. A nod to the score as well. It’s very much a throwback to the 80/90s games I used to play. I’m biased, so not sure if this is what the kids are listening to, but from my perspective and experience, it’s spot-on for the game.
For the price, it’s a no-brainer if you’re up for a classic shooter in the mould of Asteroids. There aren’t any gimmicks here, just quality gameplay mechanics that will have you coming back for repeat plays. My only real criticism would be the menu screens; the colours and the fonts are a little hard on the eyes. While it doesn’t affect the gameplay, it put me off at first. Otherwise, an excellent title for the Switch.