Sep 23, 2011
From the strange and unusual intro movie, I get the impression that Commander P. Jefferson is kind of a jerk. I also get the impression that that’s exactly the impression I’m supposed to get. And is Commander supposed to be his rank or his first name? Ambiguous personality and naming quirks aside, one thing we can be sure of is that Commander P. Jefferson hates aliens, but he loves shooting them in the face. And cursing. He’s really into cursing.
With a name like A Space Shooter For Free, it would be perfectly acceptable to expect this to be a real-time strategy game with puzzle elements. However, that’s not what it is. Surprisingly, A Space Shooter For Free is a space shooter that is, get this, free. Ah, but the ironic twist is that while the game is free, you’re only getting part of it. The full game is a US$0.99 add-on that you purchase in-game. And to be brutally honest, you’re going to want to purchase it if you hope to eke out more than about an hour or so worth of play time. The full game includes a survival mode, more levels, more bosses, more weapons and, well, more.
Featuring some down-home, old school space shootin’, you can expect quite a challenge ahead of you. Enemies come from every direction and have a variety of attacks. Ships will form lines around you, trapping you in as they bombard you with weapons’ fire. You’ll have to avoid laser traps, dodge kamikazes, and blast asteroids as they swarm and fill your screen. The game features non-linear progression, meaning you can jump into any level you wish, but you should really just stick with the levels you can handle until you can purchase weapon and ship upgrades. I found that, until I had collected enough fragments to spend on upgrades, some levels were just way too hard. Do the words “bullet hell” mean anything to you?
The controls are a little odd. Don’t go looking for a directional pad or a “fire” button because you won’t find them. You control your ship by touching the screen and dragging the ship to where you want it to go, to any point on the screen. The ship fires automatically, but it only fires while you are touching the screen.
While this control scheme seems like a natural fit for a touch-based device and gives your ship a level of agility you couldn’t get from a directional pad, call me old fashioned, but I miss the d-pad. Your mileage may vary.
What I got from A Space Shooter For Free was a fun, visually pleasing arcade shooter that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The jokes can be half-baked at times, becoming increasingly worse the more you hear them, but it means well. Thankfully, the gameplay is there to back it up with hundreds of aliens to shoot, genuinely tough bosses to fight and cool upgrades to purchase.