Daily Independent: Tough Shooter Astro Tripper is Surprisingly Hypnotic
Easy mode in Astro Tripper isn’t really easy. It’s still hard. And Hard mode is even harder. But there’s just something about the bright colors of this top-down side-scrolling arena shooter that makes it fun and almost hypnotic to play, where a similar game would be frustrating.
The premise is simple: You’re dropped into an oblong arena as a sort of space ship that can cruise around in the four main cardinal directions. Each level gets a timer and a mess of enemies that spawn all around you. Some are stationary turrets, some free-floating balls of goo, but all must die. You’ll need to clear out everything in order to advance to the next wave, and you’ll need to clear out all the enemies before the timer expires.
It sounds simple enough, but Astro Tripper is constantly in flux. Enemies are warping in all around you and if you’re not careful, they’ll take you out without any warning. They’ll also shoot at you, charge you suicidally and generally make life miserable. You can move in any direction, but you can only face left or right; flipping your vehicle is done with a specific button (Z on the keyboard) to direct your fire the other way. You also get two weapons, one that shoots straight and another that arcs out from the sides of your ship.
But I mentioned the zen of Astro Tripper, and there does seem to be something soothing in all that destruction. The action is dangerous but, at least in the early levels (which were all I got through, because Astro Tripper kept manhandling me), it runs at a slowish pace. You need to be on your toes, but the opening of the game isn’t a crazy bullet hell shmup — it just requires you to be skillful.
Old-school arcade difficulty in a bright, shiny and most of all cheap package, Astro Tripper is a fine way to spend $9.99. You’ll pick it up fast but it’ll vex you. The game is currently my go-to killer of 10 minutes, even though, sadly, I’m always the one who dies.
Check it out the Astro Tripper website for more info.
Follow Hornshaw on Twitter: @philhornshaw.