Jan 20, 2014
Shuttle Scuttle is a game that I am of two minds of. I was greatly engrossed by it, finding it hard to put down when I did my playthrough of it. But while doing so, I found myself recognizing the various deficiencies of the game, though I still enjoyed it overall.
Shuttle Scuttle puts players in the cockpit of a spaceship in an arena that moves around by thrusting, in the tradition of games like Asteroids. This spaceship has the ability to fire lasers, which comes in handy because aliens have invaded our solar system and seek to cause havoc and loss of life. Thus, players must go through the game’s 32 levels and survive the various waves of aliens, with 8 astronauts per level to rescue (which can be accidentally killed by the player’s errant shots) along with a boss fight every 4 levels.
The game strikes a great balance between being fast-paced and being overly chaotic. There’s generally a lot going on, but never so much that it’s never quite clear what’s happening. The retro aesthetic feels very NES inspired, but has plenty of vibrant colors, and a great soundtrack from Inverse Phase. It’s quite gorgeous in many senses.
However, there are some issues with difficulty and replay value. The game isn’t particularly hard; players start off with 5 lives and dying only resets the score. Thus, beating the game is really only a matter of perseverance, and even the hardest boss fights are just a matter of pattern recognition. The relative ease of the early game causes some bad habits – why try to learn to thrust and dodge enemies when it’s easy enough to just absorb damage as necessary?
The best reason to come back to the game and to get more skilled is to get high scores, but there’s no online leaderboard support, so there’s no social competition aspect. The controls work decently enough for a touchscreen, but this game would be perfect with gamepad support, which isn’t in this version, but is promised in a future one.
I suppose that Shuttle Scuttle is not a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s definitely more than the sum of its parts. Yes, there are flaws there, but I quite enjoyed burning through this one.