Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Space Trooper (Sony Xperia Exclusive)


        Sony brings us Sony Xperia smartphone owners a decent treat this time in the form of an app called Space Trooper USA. It's a Shoot Em Up video game where you're on a small planet that looks like our moon. Waves of alien bugs keep landing on the moon and it is your destiny to shoot them (at least until the game is over or while the app is still running). Whoever chose the screenshots to put on Google Play did such a good job I just used all of them. This gift from Sony is FREE. You most likely won't be completing the game in a few minutes like some minute apps. It's good for  quick action fun, however I believe you'll also need to set aside more than 3 minutes to play.


Don't worry Xperia Play owners. The Smartphone game is Xperia Play Optimized(although that's not in the Google Play description) so you get to see a little more of the screen without the on-screen joysticks.

Graphics: The gameplay environment is smooth and fun. The 3D planet and the enemies and your weapon fire looks good. The main start up screen has an animation like League of Legend's login screen. Special Energy shots make a trail behind them. I am unsure whether or not not this trail counts as damage against the planet.
Sound: The music and sound effects are cool. You do get a space theme that's slightly orchestrated with intensity and a big purpose/worldly greatness tone. A deep partially robotic announces the incoming wave. The lowest level enemy critters make a squeal that reminds me of Star Wars jet fighters. 

How to Play? (although not necessary I want to write this section anyways)
        Left joystick/touchpad to maneuver character. Right joypad to shoot in desired direction. Hold the R or L shoulder buttons to charge the fire the special (energy ball/plasma ball) that looks like Wargreymon's Teraforce. Release to shoot.  Although all non pod enemy explosions and contact only take one heart out of your total hp, letting a pod land on you will take out 4 of your hearts. In fact, you start up with four health points (and yeah I've been landed on early game for an automatic K.O. before). Destroying a pod will yield a power up in it's place. Here are the boosts.

Boosts:                                           quoted them from the app except the blue part.
- Fire Power Up - increases your fire power
- Fire Speed Up - increases your rate of fire
- Speed Up - increases your running speed
- Life - restores your health
- Score Up - increases your score multiplier
- Invincibility - Makes you temporarily invincible. Allows you to heal the ground.
- Plasma - Gives you a plasma ball

I recommend focusing on getting a mixture of the Fire Power Ups and the Fire Speed Ups. One without the other is less useful. While not collected  the power up usually changes to another power up every two seconds or so. What it changes it to depends on what boost it was because they tend to be paired together. Fire power, fire rate, and movement speed boosts are paired together.  Life and Score are another pair. And Invincibility and Plasma alternate with each other. 




Hints and Tips: 
If you go through or touch an alien pod/egg while invincible(with the blue shield) it will explode and perish without you having to shoot it. Comes in handy late game. 

Before landing, a pod casts a shadow of where it will land. This lasts a little over a second. Shadows will be harder to see on the dark side of the moon. The brighter side of the moon is where you can see the red planet in the background. 

Although it sounds like more than one alien is going through pain when you explode a pod, only a pod will feel the pain. The explosion of destroying a pod looks big but does not harm other aliens.  The opposite is true though. Shooting exploding warms(caterpillars) next to pods and other aliens will hurt the aliens in the vicinity.

It is usually good in shoot em ups to blast any enemies as soon as you see them, but it isn't always true with this game. Example, an exploding worm pops up next to up...don't make it explode until you get far enough away. Higher level bugs will cause larger explosions. 




Suggestions (my opinion) for future updates:
1) Spice up the menu before gameplay a little bit and the screen after gameplay. Perhaps have a page after the intro screen. In that page have "start game" button and a "high scores" button.

 2) Have a high scores list (at least up to ten, preferably 20). Include the option to save a name. I believe that will give the smartphone app a more arcade feel than it already has and open up the possibilities for competition with friends and family. Maybe even include a date that each score was recorded just for fun.

3) Have the character say something once in a long while to give him personality and attitude while not to repetitively annoying. Perhaps have his voice on by default and a toggle in the settings.

4) Not a biggie but maybe change the "fire rate power up" or "increased firepower" to have a more distinct color from the other. If this happens you will have to change the corresponding loading screens too of course. My screen is usually on lower brightness so I may be partially to blame.

5)Have a way of canceling out a energy ball (special move) while charging it just in case I change my mind or just felt like having a megaman charging effect without actually using my energy ball. 

6)Minor: The video on Google Play starts off  without a fire rate increased. While this shows actual gameplay, maybe only show faster shooting rates to increase it's appeal, especially in the first few seconds. For first impressions the game looks slow and boring. 


That's not my high score, I've only reached about 20 million on wave 24.


Other unorganized thoughts and trivia: The loading screen brings you random scenarios as to who you are and why you are destroying aliens. In a way this is interesting and maybe never done in a game. Although unique it prevents the game from having an character with any background. However, story isn't important in a simple game like this. Oh and the advertisement pops up after the game over screen (1 ad each time you die). Every time you start a game, the loading screen cycles through the boosts (1 boost per loading screen). You probably won't have enough time to read the whole loading screen but I don't think you would mind. It doesn't have too much to read...it just loads fast and I'm sure you don't want to load longer. They could make the loading screen have text pop up when the game is ready to "tap to play" but that would also slow down the pace and increase wait time a little bit.
      The starting screen(first photo on top of this article) takes you directly to the game. There's just that one screen. In my opinion that makes the game feel a little too simple. Also, the Game Over screen just says game over...or the end. There's not even a button to feel like you have options(retry or go to the main menu). Although having a second start up screen and having buttons at the game over screen isn't important, it doesn't seem hard to do to make the game feel more completed and polished. One nice thing (for Xperia Play owners) about the Android application is that it can be moved to the SD card and only takes 308kb of internal memory.  Although you probably won't be addicted to the game for more than a week or a few days, you can keep the game and play it for fun.
Now get to sliding Xperia Plays.


Enjoy


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