Quick! You’re stranded in space, slowly spinning as you orbit endlessly around a planet. What do you do? Well, hopefully a rocket will come by to rescue you before they run out of air and fuel. Blast Off is a physics-based puzzler featuring planets, a rocket, and pudgy little astronauts who have somehow gotten themselves stuck in the cosmos. Originally released by Halfbrick Studios for the PSP through the PlayStation Network, Blast Off made its way to the Xbox Live Marketplace and is now available for the iPhone and iPod touch as well, with a few added features like Endless Mode and touch controls. It still has the excellent soundtrack (which they released in December for free) and the Classic Mode is still the same.
Your rocket starts on Earth, and you choose a direction and power to launch. Then your goal is to collect the astronauts scattered across the screen and make it to the warpgate. To fly around, simply tap the screen in the direction you want to go, but keep an eye on your fuel: the more you fire your jets, the quicker your fuel burns up. In the meantime, you also have to watch your air supply, which decreases as time passes. You don’t always have to collect all the astronauts to open the warpgate (as one level title explains, “Frank is optional”) but you’ll definitely need all of them for a higher score, and the more fuel and air you have left, the higher your score as well. Get a high enough score and you’ll get a gold star, and if you do even better you’re awarded with the Brick star. But be warned: sometimes it takes a perfect shot right from the start to get a high enough score for the Brick star.
The game uses OpenFeint for leaderboards and achievements so you can compare scores with your friends and see who can get Brick stars on all the levels first. With 33 levels in Classic Mode (in three difficulty levels), there’s a lot to see and the soundtrack makes the time go by quickly. There are also three levels in Endless Mode, which challenges you to score as many points as possible. Air and Fuel will appear periodically to keep you going, so as long as you continue to pick up astronauts and manage your resources wisely, you can rack up some big points. (So far, though, I haven’t been able to beat the Brick high scores on any of the three.)
The game reminds me of some online Flash games I’ve played like Gravitee, which has you knocking golf balls around planets. Except the games I’ve played before don’t give you control while the ball is in motion, so it’s all about the angle and power of the initial launch. Blast Off is a little more like an arcade game because you can fly the ship around, but usually the best solution doesn’t require a lot of rockets. It’s a pretty challenging game, particularly if you try to go for the Brick stars on each level, but I did get frustrated with a few where it seemed like I was getting so close to the required score but was never able to break through.
Blast Off is available for $.99 on iTunes which is not a bad deal at all.
Wired: Combination of physics puzzler and space arcade game; a soundtrack so good it stands alone.
Tired: Trying to get Brick stars on all the levels may drive you mad.
Disclosure: Halfbrick Studios provided a download code for review purposes.