An evolution of the award winning title Space Tripper, Astro Tripper is a fast and furious shoot-em-up experience available from PlayStation Store.
Travel across the surface of large horizontally-scrolling platforms, and pit your nimble craft against hordes of enemies eager to blow you to bits, eat you or worse.
Released: December 2008
Reviewed January 2009 by Keith Murray.
PomPom Games, the small independent UK-based developer, have a proven track record when it comes to the world of Downloadable games – their superb Mutant Storm: Reloaded (MS: R) was one of the original debut titles on the XBLA. While it was overshadowed by the runaway success of Geometry Wars, those with a penchant for quality twin-stick shooters found that MS:R provided a stern, but surmountable challenge. In turn it drew a sizable audience with its sublime controls and excellent level design.
PomPom have now turned their attention towards the PlayStation Network in the form of Astro Tripper, a remake of Space Tripper from 2001. Astro Tripper is a bi-directional shooter, which means you press a button to flip between left and right, disposing of enemies which spawn in a given level, all set against a timer. Bonuses are also awarded for how quickly a level is cleared. The controls are simple and easy to get used to, feeling perfect and spot on (which considering the state of the Dual Shock 3 is no mean feat).
The game bears all the hallmarks of a PomPom title, with a lovely, brooding electronic style of music which builds momentum and suits the visuals perfectly.
And what visuals it has.
Astro Tripper has a wonderful, rich look to the graphics, pleasing on the eye and enticing the player back to the title. In fact it shares a similar vibe to MS: R which will please long-standing fans of the developers.
Add into this a price point which is nothing short of staggering (£3.19 as of the time of this review) and it seems like a sure-fire success… well, yes and no. The main stumbling block is the difficulty level, even on the easiest setting. Easy is a route into most games, but in Astro Tripper, even this mode feels like the title is mocking you. Many players will give up long before they reach the end of the training levels due to the absurd difficulty. There’s nothing wrong with a challenge, but this is enough to harm would-be players looking for something interesting and different on the PSN.
Astro Tripper ticks all the right boxes and is different enough to stand on its own in a crowded marketplace. Unfortunately, unless PomPom releases a patch to at least give novice players the chance to sample the delights of later levels, it will criminally sink without trace.