Space Junk is a new retro styled shooter by Upside Down Games, a 2 man (Ned Langman, and Greg Michael) indie development studio based in the UK. Ned Langman worked on the 80’s Amiga game, Silkworm, as well as SWIV, and Super SWIV, as well as a favorite of mine, Forsaken for the N64, PSX, and PC, along with more games in between and after. Greg Michael worked on Double Dragon III for the Amiga and Atari in the late 80’s, as well as being the lead programmer for the PSX title, Alien Trilogy, and then also on the oh so memorable Forsaken on the PSX, and, also, many more games. Needless to say, these guys know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to making games.
In Space Junk, you’ll control a little space man through Asteroids type levels, using a joystick to rotate, a button to thrust, and a button to shoot, while clearing out all of the objects in each of the 25 levels. Each of the objects you destroy will break up into smaller objects, and each one of those will break into even smaller objects. After that, once destroyed, a tool will appear, and these are what you’ll need to collect in order to score big points.
The retro vector graphics work well here, and there are plenty of different objects that you will encounter while making your way through the levels. Satellites, moon cheese, dogs, asteroids, space ships, and other various objects and shapes will be the main objects in each level, destroying these while they are in their first appearance stages, gives you a multiplier that‘s connected to the amount of tools that you pickup. For instance, if you‘re thrown into a level with 15 objects, and you destroy 5 of them before they start disappearing, which happens faster if you don‘t thrust around the levels, the amount of tools that you pick up will be multiplied by 5 in the end of the level bonus. The scoring system can get a little confusing, but mainly, if you keep moving around, and destroy as much as you can as quick as you can, while collecting as many dropped tools as you can, your score will shoot up. You are also rewarded for being accurate, getting a bigger bonus score the more accurate you are. There are also UFOs thrown into the mix, and destroying these will release a power-up, which could be a shield, extra life, powered up weapon, or a magnet that collects all dropped tools in the level.
Every 4 levels, you’ll encounter a bonus or challenge stage, where you’ll need to destroy all toolboxes and pick up all the tools in a set amount of time, or avoid a bunch of asteroids for 30 seconds while only using your thruster. This does add a nice break into the frantic gameplay, and if you pull off each challenge or bonus perfectly, can add to your score quite a bit.
You are able to play in portrait or landscape mode, and there are no borders on any of the levels. If you fly to the right, you’ll end up running into objects that were on the left side of the screen, but you can keep flying right forever, and your character is always in the center of the screen. This can be a big help if used right, chasing after UFOs is a lot easier if you go away from them instead of follow them, you’ll run into them quicker, and the same with all the other objects that will be flying all around you.
There are no online leader boards in version 1.0, which is kind of upsetting, considering this is a game that revolves a lot around high-scores. But even without online support at the moment, and only one game mode, Space Junk really is a very nicely done old-style arcade shooter. If you grew up playing games in the 80’s and early 90’s, you’ll most likely really enjoy this one. It’s pretty much an expanded Asteroids, with great vector graphics, awesome music, a really nice scoring system, 3 different difficulties, and cool weapons and power-ups. Being $0.99, and Universal, with talk of iCade and GameCenter support coming in the near future, it’s well worth the price, and then some. The developers are also very responsive on the TA Forums, and their FaceBook page, so with the help of the gamers who are playing this one, I can see it turning into something really special over the next few updates.