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SCORES EXPLAINED:

5.0 Perfect
4.5 Excellent
4.0 Very Good
3.5 Good
3.0 Fair
2.5 Weak
2.0 Poor
1.5 Bad
1.0 Terrible
0.5 Atrocious
0.0 Your Mom


Funkmaster V Reviews


7800 Rank: Not Ranked

Genre: SHMUP

Awards: None
Hello Kitty 5, Standing By Pros: Virtually Indentical to the Source Material
Cons: Slow Lasers/ Hideous Blue Background
Look Out! It's the Mutated Space Form of Gary Shandling!


Overview: Years ago, I made the classic blunder of purchasing two games at the same time from the Atari Age store. Those games were Astro Blaster and Astro Fighter. What tends to happen when you purchase multiple games at once, especially very similar ones, is that you play one a lot,
and one you don't play hardly at all, so you end up not really giving the second one a fair shake. That's what happened here. I've always dreaded reviewing Astro Fighter, because I knew I didn't like it as much as Astro Blaster, but in recent weeks I've had several requests to review the game. So here we are. This is another shoot 'em up that Bob Decrescenzo (Pac Man Plus) has churned out in his series of bringing overlooked and underdog games to the Atari 7800. I always assumed that the word Astro meant something about outer space, but I think it means something to do with piss-poor gas mileage. In Astro Fighter, just like Astro Blaster, we have to be concerned about our fuel efficiency almost as much as we have to be concerned about the alien Armada.

Graphics: The biggest turnoff in this game is the baby blue play field. This title was made in 1980 and it looks like it, and I kinda wish that there was an option to turn the background space-black like most space SHMUPs. Hobby programmer SI02 does this with his games and I think it's a nice option. The top portion of the screen displays which enemy group is attacking us, and which enemies are on deck. It also includes a rapidly depleting energy bar. The final boss screen features some sort of alien blob with the initials "GS" written on it, which may mean "goose shit", "goober scmooch", "Gary's shoes" or "grapes on sale"... I don't know what it means, and it probably would be disappointing to find out. Your rocket ship is retro looking but appears pink and white on my TV... so it looks like Hello Kitty is taking on the burden of saving the day here. Koun o, Hello Kittysan!!!

Sound: The audio in this game is really pretty good and full of nice little touches. I like the sound effects of the main laser beam, 1 million times more than the protagonist's ship in the game Planet Smashers. Each wave of aliens has its own subtle background sound effect which is a swell touch. Explosion sounds are good, and when the energy bar is depleting the warning buzzer sounds more and more urgent.

Gameplay: There are five different types of colorful aliens to dispose of, each with their own flight patterns and formations. A word of warning: The erracitc, green Tie Fighters are the most game competitors. Astro Fighter kinda looks like its own outer space bowl of Lucky Charms. You have red chubby ghosts, yellow rocket ships, and blue uteruses, for example. If I was a crude person, I would say that the blue uteruses bring a whole new meaning to the term "magically delicious." But I'm not... so I won't. Unlike many space shooter games from this era, alien armadas, even in the beginning, have some pretty effective fire power. Not only do they shoot at you vertically, there are some diagonal laser beams that are hard to deal with and a constant barrage of big laser blasts or asteroids (whatever they are) that you can shoot out of the air. Wait, is there air in space? Quit with the science, you get the idea. With the pressure of having to eliminate these alien aholes as fast as possible, the single shot cannon is irritatingly underpowered for the job at hand. There are no power ups or fuel canisters, so this game really tests your shooting skills. Just like Astro Blaster, our spaceship gets shitty gas mileage, and in this game there is no way to refuel or to stave off your in imminent demise. You have to just go man, go. If you run out of fuel before you eliminate the final boss, no matter how many ships you have, you're toast and the game is essentially over. We should've bought a space Prius. Similar to Space Invaders, the ships try to get past you, and they get faster the less there are of them. If they are successful in getting by you, they will re-position themselves at the top of the screen with a fully refreshed deployment of ships. This does not help you finishing your sortie in a timely fashion.

Interpretation: : I've never played this game, but I did some video research and again Bob Decrescenzo has hit this one out of the park. If you like Sega/ Gremlin's arcade version of Astro Fighter, you're gonna love this version. This is another arcade game that's never really been ported anywhere, so if you have a 7800 you should take full advantage.

Value: The 7800 library is starting to get cluttered with pretty good space shooters, and this one is somewhere in the middle. What differentiates this from other titles? There are three difficulty levels to master, and you can play fairly long innings on easy without possessing much skill. Normal mode seems to be tough enough, and Hard mode is murder. If you clear the five waves of spaceships, the sequence repeats itself and keeps track of how many times you have tripped the game. One or two players can play alternating turns, and you can choose between three and five lives.

Overall: If you love classic arcade space Shoot 'em ups, Astro Fighter will be a fun addition to your Atari 7800 collection. If you were only a passing fan of SHMUPs, I don't think this is going to have the universal appeal that Galaga, Xevious, Plutos, or even Astro Blaster would. Although it is unique, the baby blue background is just unappealing and it hurts the overall impression of another otherwise perfectly fine shooter. So in short, Bob Decrescenzo has provided us with another excellent conversion of an older, often overlooked space shooter that was Sega's souped-up take on Space Invaders. In this humble man of funk's opinion, this game teeters between a 3.0 and a 3.5, but since it's such a terrific conversion, I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt and bumping it up a notch.

Other Reviews:
The Video Game Critic: B

Additional Info: I would like to take this time to thank Atari Age for allowing the use of his screenshots for this review.