Review: AstroPop Deluxe

Posted by | July 31, 2009

astropop-deluxe-poster We came into this game looking at the cute, smooth rendered characters as mascots for space adventures and companions in this arcade puzzler—however, when it came down to the brass tacks, this game just wasn’t our cup of tea.

AstroPop presents itself as an action puzzler involving another color matching mechanism that we’ve seen many times before. It sets itself aside from other games by presenting a new way to approach this color matching. Bricks arrive from the top of the screen with the player at the bottom. The player flies a ship with the ability to grab blocks from the descending colorful menace up to a stack of four, and can release them back. Matching four or more blocks causes them to vanish as per usual.

While matching is certainly easy by just nabbing blocks and moving them around, it’s also quite possible to open up access to deep veins of blocks and to then eliminate them in one fell swoop. As the bricks become more and more random and mixed the more difficult it is to set up combos or even produce rapid matches—and as the game continues the roof will descend with accelerating speed.

Each of the characters also have special abilities affixed to their ships. Once triggered, the special can certainly turn the tide of the game. Two characters are immediately available; the other two must be “rescued” by playing through levels—there is a narrative to their rescues that can be read. The two we played had abilities that dealt with clearing out bricks with either firepower or by sweeping away segments of the playing field. Presumably the remaining two characters also had interesting special abilities to enhance game play.

Both special bricks and obstacles also come into play. Special bricks including explosive bricks that vaporize nearby bricks and hyperbricks that increase score. There are also “dead” bricks that cannot be matched to any others, but do pop when bricks near them are matched up.

The game, however, felt like it lacked replay value. Like any action style arcade it certainly kept us on our toes; however, as any astute reader has seen up to this point, us voces don’t like being kept on our toes by timers. The arcade style puzzler adds in the “falling doom” effect that makes it harder and harder to keep up with the rapidly descending wall of bricks, until finally we get crushed.

It’s hard to recommend this game even to avid arcade puzzle gamers. It’s a common meme found in a lot of games like this and it has been done better in the past.

Be sure to check out The Helvetica Venture (here on Vox ex Machina) and Black Hat Magick by Kyt Dotson.

1 Comment so far
  1. RyAnne
    July 31, 2009 7:38 pm

    I have this game. I love it, but hate it all at the same time. It’s SOOOO addicting.
    I have it in the XBOX 360 arcade, so I’m unsure of what the PC version is like.
    I loooooove it, even more than Hexic. I even have it on one of my old cellphones. Addictive, horribly addictive, but awesome all at the same time. :)

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