Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Aliens Must Die: The Jupiter Wars

In a moment of perfect timing, I had been reading (just out of curiosity) Kongregate's information about premium sponsorship, where they talked about wanting games which weren't just tired rehashes of the same old concept, but new and innovative takes on existing genres, or new genres entirely. Then, I clicked back to the Kongregate home page, and found that this game (which is, indeed, sponsored by Kongregate, but not premium sponsorship, I would assume) was the latest to have badges. I had actually tried it earlier, but it failed to hold my interest for a couple of minutes, because it was a tired rehash of an old concept. Now, I had a reason to play it for more than a few minutes, but it didn't really impress in a longer trial, either.

Anyway, Aliens Must Die: The Jupiter Wars (and let me digress for a moment to mention how awful that title is; with just the title, it has a nice camp quality, but the subtitle makes it sound overly serious and ruins the whole quality; also, as it probably won't surprise you to learn, Jupiter plays no part in the game, other than serving as the backdrop, so really, what's the point?) is a very generic space shooter, in the old classic Asteroids tradition. Actually, in some ways this game has more in common with the survival shooters I discussed in my last post, since you use the keyboard to move and the mouse to shoot, while I think of shooting in the direction that you move as a hallmark of Asteroids and Crystal Quest.

So, enemies come in (some inert, like asteroids and comets, and some which will shoot back), and, using the aforementioned control scheme, you shoot them. They release debris, which you can collect to (very gradually) upgrade your weapons. That's about it. From time to time you'll get health, which you'll need, and shields, which make you temporarily invincible. Also, in a savvy bit of marketing, the artwork prominently features a cute anime girl, who is allegedly your co-pilot. However, instead of, oh, perhaps manning the turrets while you're trying to steer, or vice-versa, or some other kind of co-piloty task, her sole duty seems to be to announce various events in a very strange voice. I can't tell whether it's synthesized, or just with a very peculiar accent, but either way it's slightly distracting.

The graphics are of good quality, and the sound effects are decent. The music I have to give props for recognizing and using the old Asteroids theme as their base, but to be honest, it does feel a little dated. Overall, though, the game feels pretty easy -- I don't consider myself particularly proficient in this genre (years of Crystal Quest notwithstanding). The hard badge requires you to defeat the alien mothership on wave 29 (although, if it's the mothership, why does the game continue after that? Oh well), which I guess is supposed to be a hard task. I had relatively little difficulty reaching wave 29, and when the mothership appeared, I happened to get a shield, so I just rammed it and that was that.

Anyway, this is not a badly produced game, but fundamentally there's nothing to add juice to what is by now a pretty old concept, so it really didn't succeed in holding my interest for any significant amount of time.

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