Version tested: Retro
Space Rockets are thirsty beasts requiring large amounts of quenching juice on their journey through space. So with your fuel level indicator alarmingly approaching empty, your only salvation in Astro Fighter is to destroy the end of stage boss who will re-fuel your tanks allowing you to carry on your quest to reach the top of the high score table.
The high pitch scream of the boss washes over you as it traverses the top of the screen taunting you in all its pixellated form. As the fuel level edges closer and closer to empty, the somewhat now traditional "beep, beep, beep" warning bell of impending doom is activated, heightening the tension and urgency of the situation you find yourself in. A few more beads of sweat trickle down the side of you face. A last ditched shot before your ship crashes and bingo, a direct hit on the sensitive zone of the bad-ass big boy. The boss screams in pain as it pumps fuel into your rocket - allowing you to fight another day.
On a full tank of fuel the player is expected to progress through four levels filled with brightly coloured alien ships that insist on firing missiles at your ship both vertically and diagonally as they descend down the screen towards you (check out the homage to the Star Wars Tie Fighter on level four). The enemy prove difficult to clear on each level as they do their best to dodge your single bullets in their descent. If one of the little blighters does manage to get passed your ship, and off the bottom of the screen, shouts of frustration and despair ensue as all the enemies for that level re-appear, and much needed fuel is wasted in their clearance.
Astro Fighter offers very little that is new to the shooter fan yet proves to be a somewhat irresistible, yet frustrating, title that will offer more that a little challenge to the casual player.
8 / 10