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Astro Blaster - August 16, '00 by Personan
Game:Astro BlasterCompany:Sega
Type:ShooterPlayers:1/2

Well for my second review (after Gorf) Iíve chosen another speaking shoot em-up from way back in 1981, Segaís Astro Blaster. This was another game I must have put a lot of money into as I remember it as a favourite when it arrived in my local arcade (check the flyer!). Indeed this game caused quite a stir since it had very realistic speech (after Gorf and Bezerk), great sound effects and graphics to die for in 1981 (almost 16-bit standard). In fact, in every department, Astro Blaster must be considered a very polished game which still stands up to the test today.
The framework for Astro Blaster is a multi-stage affair, the game having a number of "Sectors" each made up of multiple stages which each has a different set of aliens to despatch along with an asteroid field and docking sequence at the end of each sector. Each alien type has a different attack pattern and this might involve descending as a group slowly, diving individually or scrolling across the screen rapidly . The aim of each wave is to destroy all the aliens and for assistance you can choose to "Warp" the aliens occasionally, slowing them to almost a standstill for about 10 seconds. Unfortunately you only have a few "warps" so you must use them wisely. Also each sector must be finished as quickly as possible as your fuel is slowly running out, so you cant afford too many warps, especially in the later, more time consuming sectors. Luckily at the end of each sector (when fuel is really low) you get to navigate an asteroid field where you can shoot some fireballs for extra fuel (another great videogaming anomaly. Why shoot fireballs for fuel?). Such is the tension that on later sectors, you can be pixels away from your bullet hitting a fireball when you hear the voice "Out of fuel.......Game Over". And donít think that excessive fire-button pounding is the answer either since you can find your laser will overheat and wont work for ten seconds or so - fatal! Yes, this is a genuinely tense affair, frustrating but rewarding and for me this game has all the right videogaming elements, even a secret bonus system (try a precarious docking maneuver without moving your ship). Emulation in MAME is perfect as I can recall - again sound samples are required for the full atmosphere.
Graphics
9
9
Sound
Play Control
8
8
Challenge
Replay Value
9
9
Performance

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