Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Being exactly what you would expect, KAsteroids is a KDE-clone of Asteroids. While it adds a few features, and looks a bit better than its Atari 2600 forebear, it's basic gameplay is unchanged. Fans of old-school arcade games would probably say that the original game was perfect in its design, and needs no changes.

You know the drill: you control a ship, which you point in a given direction and apply thrust to, in order to move about the screen, and which shoots a projectile in whatever direction it's pointed in, upon pressing the fire button. The object of each level is to shoot all the asteroids; when they're shot, they subdivide into smaller pieces which must then be shot, and so on, until you've cleared the screen, at which point you move on to the next level.

What features does it add? Powerups. You can collect shields, which you can activate to prevent death upon touching an asteroid, extra guns which allow you to have more projectile on-screen (you start out with only two), and brake upgrades which allow you to slow down without trying to turn around and apply opposite thrust.

They don't really change the way the game plays for me, because I'm not exactly a power-player. If you're the kinda guy who's thinking about setting the world record for the arcade original, they'd probably affect your strategy, but me, I'm just tryin' to stay alive and blow up asteroids. No strategy required.

Graphically, it's very simple - don't expect some Rez-like super-cool graphical effects here, or even anything along the lines of a classic 16-bit sh'mup. The font looks a bit amateurish to my used-to-stylized-lettering eyes, and the lack of any shadows or textures on anything except for the asteroids gives it that shareware-look we all know and love.

Musically, there isn't any music, and sound-effects wise, it's completely silent except for when you blow up. I found it weird that there wasn't a sound whenever you shot your gun; it made for long stretches of silence where I'd forget the game had sound, and then get surprised whenever my speakers erupted with the explosion noise.

The only real complaint I have is that it doesn't seem to support a joystick. Growing up playing similar games on joysticks and gamepads for decades, it just seems odd that they wouldn't support one. The keyboard controls work just fine, but it would be nice to have the option, y'know?

I can recommend this to anyone looking for an Asteroids-fix or youngsters who are wondering what Asteroids was. It adds nothing of substance to the game, and certainly does nothing original, so it's not going to satisfy anyone looking for a game that scratches the ever-present 'I wanna play something new' itch.

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