If you ask a non-gamer about the most iconic video games of all time then chances are you’ll be met with a response of Space Invaders. Hell, even if you ask a totally committed modern day fanboy which experience led the gaming charge through the late ‘70s and beyond, then you may well find many mentioning that too.
See, some 40 years since its release, Space Invaders is still relevant, still spawning clones and still ensuring that the gaming industry is in good health.
And it’s quite obvious from the get-go exactly what game has been the inspiration behind Super Destronaut DX. Yep, this is one full-on space shooting invader clone. And at no point does it try not to be.
Bright, colourful and stupidly easy to pick up and play, Super Destronaut DX arrives to bring the Space Invaders vibe to a new generation of players, one that may well have missed out on the glorious gameplay ideas previously. But does it have enough of a draw to keep the attention span lengthy? Well the cheap price point would probably point to a big fat ‘no’, and that is very much a simplistic, yet spot-on, assessment of what this game brings.
There is nothing wrong with Super Destronaut DX per se because it runs smoothly enough, but it fails to stand out from any other title in the Space Invaders crowd, except for in one aspect – super easy achievement collecting. Whether or not you want your games to stand out for that reason is neither here nor there, but it is the truth with this game.
Super Destronaut comes with five different game modes, but all of them play very similarly to the next – shoot, dodge, shoot, dodge, rinse, repeat. No matter whether you are attempting to hit a single objective in each of the 30 Challenges, battling through the Classic mode and just taking down enemies for the fun of it, tearing things up with the limited Timed option, or bringing your swiftest skills and keenest eye to the table with the slightly tougher Hardcore, then once you’ve seen a wave or two of aliens, you’ve seen it all. Thankfully, a rather addictive local multiplayer mode has also been included and so should you wish to kick back and try to score more kills than a mate, then you can.
At the end of the day though Super Destronaut DX consists of two things only – moving your small ship left and right along the bottom of the screen, and firing constantly at the invading armies dropping down from above. Even though it does that with ease, due to the sheer mix of colours used in the enemy ranks and the number of bullets they drop, you’ll have to keep a beady eye open at all times should you wish to not succumb to a stray shot.
There is nothing else to it, as it runs with the exact same principle that has seen the market leader shine time and time again. But then, in a world of gaming which has moved on from the early days, something else is needed for a new version to shine, and this is where it falls down.
Having five different bullet types in place is great and a huge positive, but they are thrown your way within the first couple of challenge levels, and that sees any reason to chase more gameplay options and better bullet types removed. However with them all obtainable by shooting down the orange bad guys, it’s good to see triple shots, lasers, bombs and homing rockets on hand alongside the usual single shot, to help you out a bit more in your high scoring quest.
There is little reason to keep battling through waves though and ultimately that is why this will fail to really appeal to any prospective buyers. Instead we see the gameplay fall to one side and instead the focus of any play time is left to the one massive standout feature included in Super Destronaut DX; one that depending on your viewpoint, really does see it warrant the £3.99 price tag that it comes with. The opportunity to mop up every single achievement and 1000 Gamerscore in a matter of minutes is going to be a hard one to ignore.
Like it or not, and whether you care for cheevo hunting or not, this is one game that centralises its thoughts massively on them. In fact, with your very first play of the initial challenge, you’ll see no less than 300 points hit your account within the first 30 seconds. 20 minutes later, and with little grind needed, you’ll have the next 700G safely stowed away.
This is obviously a massive draw for those gamers who wish to see their numbers rocket, but if truth be told, once the maximum amount has been garnered, there really is little reason to bother playing Super Destronaut DX anymore. Perhaps the lure of a low price with simple achievements turned the heads of the development or marketing teams, with them knowing full well that in gaming terms a combination of those things is a match made in heaven, but i can’t help feel that has in turn impacted on the gameplay.
Of course, just because you have nabbed a full gamerscore collection, it shouldn’t mean you can just place a game to one side and forget about it, but the significant step up in difficulty found in the challenges once you step over 12 of the 30 scenarios – grabbing the only grindy achievement in the process – proves that achievement hunting was most definitely at the fore of the creators mind. And in fact, for all the mode types that are available, it will only be the toughness of those latter challenge scenarios which will see anyone continue to play.
That’s a shame in anyone’s book, because if only there was some way of filtering the leaderboards to just show your friends’ scores, allowing for bragging rights between mates, or if further weapon types were on the horizon for those with skills high enough to see them dispatch multiple waves of bad guys, then it would be well worth a bit of a grind. That rise in Gamerscore would then be secondary to the action.
It’s not though and that leaves Super Destronaut DX firmly encamped in the middle ground. It’s a game that achievement hunters should purchase without a single thought, but if you are looking for some decent modern day space invading that will keep you going for some time, then Super Destronaut DX will leave you wanting.