Super Asteroid Attack Is Everything You Love About Classic Arcade Games [Review]

asteroids

Growing up I was a huge fan of the game Asteroids.

Super Asteroid Attack by GameAnax Inc.
Category: iOS Games
Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Price: Free

But while it’s great seeing these games appear on iOS, too often they’re accompanied by a feeling of disappointment. Although there’s no arguing that the games themselves are still great, too often the controls let them down. Where arcade machines, and even computer keyboards, did four and eight-directional movement well, I have yet to play an iOS game where the virtual buttons felt anything less than passable.

In games where timing is everything, and controls are meant to become so intuitive that you find yourself thinking about them when you’re not actually playing, that’s a massive problem.

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Deflecting asteroids into stars can earn you bonuses like this anti-gravity wave.

Super Asteroid Attack is not, I should make clear, a port of the classic Atari coin-op shooter from 1979. You’re not controlling a ship in space (a capital A in the classic version), and once hit your asteroids don’t break into smaller asteroids that move faster and prove harder to hit.

Instead, Super Asteroid Attack feels like someone who took everything that was fun about the original arcade experience and thought about how to best translate it to multi-touch. The aim is to protect planet Earth, which hangs serene and helpless at center stage. The planet is constantly beleaguered by arriving asteroids hurtling towards it. As with the classic game, larger ones are slower and easier to hit, while smaller ones and faster and more deadly. Occasionally an alien spacecraft turns up and joins the attack. Games end when Earth is destroyed.

Rather than firing at these asteroids, your aim is to deflect them back into space from whence they came. To do this, you draw short “shields” space using swipes. You can only draw these barricades onto the screen at a certain rate, and they don’t last forever, so you have to create them at just the right time. As the game gets harder, more asteroids arrive and you must work faster and faster to survive.

Super Asteroid Attack feels like a throwback — but also a game that couldn’t possibly have happened in any era other than today.

Deflecting the asteroids into enemy ships will destroy them, while deflecting them into stars earn you power-ups, which can then be used to trigger extra shields and anti-gravity waves.

What is particularly nifty about Super Asteroid Attack is that it feels like a combination of various classic Atari games in one — albeit one that could never have taken place during the golden age of the coin-op arcade. The deflection dynamics, for example, are straight out of Pong — so that it’s not just a matter of erecting shields, but also getting your angles right to send asteroids hurtling off in the direction that you want. The “avoid Earth being hit” is similarly reminiscent of Missile Command, which was another favorite from this era of gaming.

As a result, Super Asteroid Attack feels like a throwback — but also a game that couldn’t possibly have happened in any era other than today.

And as paradoxical as that sounds, it makes for one hell of a fun time.

asteroid-attack-port-image Game Name: Super Asteroid Attack
The Good: Takes a lot of the elements that made classic Atari coin-ops so fun, and forges a new game out of them.
The Bad: It’s not the original Asteroids if you’re looking for a straight port. It’s better suited for short gaming sessions, than long ones.
The Verdict: Deceptively simple at first, Super Asteroid Attack quickly starts munching up your time. Which is exactly what this type of game should do.
Buy from: App Store

Cult of Mac rating: 4/5

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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