If there’s one genre that’s solely lacking on the Minis market for the PlayStation Network, it’s shoot-em-up games. A Space Shooter for Two Bucks‘ description touts it’s “the best deal EVER” given that it’s price is in its title. Does it live up to its claims of being the best?
From the get-go, the game is tongue-in-cheek with its difficulty levels and introduction – an introduction that is thoroughly unneeded with a younger version of your protagonist terrorizing a random nameless nerd. The humor continues throughout the game, with the main character badmouthing every Alien General (the main bosses of the game), his navigation system (an old butler), and his constant hitting on the shopkeep (whose voice doesn’t come close to sounding like it belongs to the wrinkly chain-smoker on screen).
But people don’t play shooters for the plot. The game is a very competent vertical shooter with various enemy ships that all have set designs and attack patterns, making learning how to avoid certain attacks very streamlined. As the game goes on, the screen becomes more crowded, especially as you gain power-ups. After defeating each of the five Alien Generals, you gain their special attack (a la Mega Man); beating each of the non-boss stages raises the health of your ship. A checkpoint system is in place in every stage, though in the later stages, they don’t occur as often as you would like.
With sixteen stages, the game lasts from three to five hours, depending on your skill level. There are also a multitude of upgrades to buy as well – most of them are actually required to effectively deal with certain stages, which requires you to actually do some stages multiple times so you can grind for money, given the relatively high cost of a good number of the later upgrades.
On the whole, the game can be fun, but it suffers from a couple of design oversights that make it a chore to play. The learning curve isn’t too steep, however, so as you are able to get upgrades, the game does get markedly easier. There are, of course, much better shooters out there, but for two dollars, this is certainly a decent investment.