Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Game of the Day - The Next Space

The Next Space (1989 by SNK) is a shooter that is all about the power-ups.  In fact, when you start, you have an array of targets (square blocks) to hit and collect as power-ups (or weapon changers).  The trick is that they have a letter on them (they all start with "A") and every time you hit one, it advances to the next letter.  The letter it is when you collect it (run into it) is what determines the weapon or power-up you get.  There are so many, I still don't know them all off the top of my head and have to play for a few minutes each time to find out what each letter does.

You have typical controls in The Next Space (TNS), an 8-way joystick and two buttons.  The two buttons are normal weapon shot and alternate weapon shot.  Each can be changed by the aforementioned letters.  Among other things, you get missiles and lasers and squiggles and a cool effect where fire just comes out of your cannon steady, but not very far, so you have to go burn things by getting close to them.

Being from 1989, it is from the era when the backgrounds were simple (black scrolling starfield for the most part) - but the enemies were plenty.  Enemies - especially mech-spidery-looking-thingies fly in from everywhere and dance all over the screen.  As in other games I like, they are very unpredictable, some just dive and leave, others circle around, others hover and bombard you - but they are all very twitchy.  In fact, if you ever watched Stargate-SG1 (the TV series - not the movie) the enemies remind me of the Replicants from that show.

Straight-forward play, sharp graphics, great enemy A.I. and a host of power-ups & weapons make The Next Space today's GOTD.  Last note: Another terrible name - it is neither fun, nor cool, nor descriptive.  IA game's name should at least be one of those things (if not more).

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