There are some pretty damn good games out there that’ll cost you less than a few quid, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find them unless they’re on sale. If you love eighties-inspired sidescrollers, then Save The Astronaut might be just what you need. Created by Open Maw Productions, this is a dirt-cheap side-scroller that offers an entertaining challenge.
An astronaut has crashed his spaceship on an unknown planet, and you need to guide him through 20 levels filled with hazards and gems for racking up your score. Even with its simplistic visuals, its retro-style visuals are simple and appealing. Same goes with the chiptune ditties and muffled sound effects as well.
These missions are none too easy, as you only have 10 seconds to breathe, whereby running out of oxygen will result in a game over. You can add more time to the clock by collecting air canisters, or by dying. Yes, getting killed by frosty water, spikes or exploding blocks will actually send you back to the start without resetting your progress. I thought it was odd at first, but to be honest, considering how often you’ll die in this game, it proved to be quite helpful if you were ever low on time or needed to get back to the entrance quickly.
The levels are none too forgiving, but far from impossible. Most shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to complete, despite the numerous traps on offer. Collecting gems for points is optional, but it’s fun to be a jewel-thievin’ kleptomaniac in order to bag a high score. Reaching the exit is what’s important here. You’ll have to activate switches in order to destroy obstacles blocking off parts in each stage.
It controls well enough, though steering the astronaut left and right while mid-air is a tad tricky due to the sensitive controls. Still, you’ll be able to gain a fair bit of height by double-jumping, and he moves at a brisk pace as well. Controller support is also an option here, and a perfectly viable alternative to the mouse and keyboard, despite the aforementioned nitpick.
You can beat this game in about an hour, but it’s accessible enough to dive back into from the beginning. Annoyingly, the top option in the main menu is to start a new game, and I’ve accidentally erased my data by pressing it on a few occasions without any warning that all progress will be lost. In fact, it lacks the option to restart the level after failing. Rather annoying, to be honest.
Even with its issues, it’s not like it’s a waste of your spare change. In fact, for what it’s worth, it’s Even if you die a hundred times over, trying to save this poor astronaut is jolly good stuff, and a testament to the fact that you don’t need an overtly lengthy or deep game to have a good time.