AstroPop (Xbox 360) review
"AstroPop is a puzzle game for Xbox Live Arcade that combines block busting, combos, bricks, and SUPA rays. Its hectic pace and points scores make it addictive, and cause you to not notice the time slipping by. AstroPop is constantly making you navigate quickly and work rapidly. It’s a great single-player puzzle game, but its lack of multiplayer takes away a lot from the experience.
AstroPop is a puzzle game for Xbox Live Arcade that combines block busting, combos, bricks, and SUPA rays. Its hectic pace and points scores make it addictive, and cause you to not notice the time slipping by. AstroPop is constantly making you navigate quickly and work rapidly. It’s a great single-player puzzle game, but its lack of multiplayer takes away a lot from the experience.
You pilot a small ship from a bird’s eye view that can only move from side to side along the bottom of the screen. As you maneuver around colored bricks enter the level one line at a time. The goal is to eliminate them by placing them in groups of four. Your ship allows you to pull down as many same colored bricks that you can fit, before firing them back upwards to destroy them. It’s worth noting that there are two “special” bricks in addition to the normal ones: a poison brick that infects other blocks and a steel brick. Both eliminate the ability to move them with your ship. The bricks come down in levels pushing them further down the screen, when the bricks reach the bottom it’s game over .They are only vulnerable to the SUPA weapon, which combined with combos earns big points. Combos involve you destroying four bricks, which causes other bricks to collapse and form groups of four. In addition, they speed up the rate that the SUPA weapon charges up, which varies with character.
There are four playable characters, each with a different ship, SUPA weapon, and appearance that add variety. AstroPop features two different modes that are unfortunately fairly similar. In classic mode you earn points by eliminating as many bricks as possible. The timed mode involves playing against a clock, and the goal is to see how long you can survive. The modes work, because of their simple and addictive nature. The timed mode showcases the games rapid pace and your fingers will be flying along the controller. As you gain points and learn to unleash large combos your points score grows, and you are drawn to get higher scores and finish off the achievements.
The game combos are announced in an annoying voice that says “hyper combo” over and over again. No matter character you play as, they don’t speak, which focuses the music on the repetitive soundtrack. The music, unlike the bricks is bland and dull. Vibrant colors like red, green, blue, and yellow are the brick colors, which contrast nicely against the dark backdrop. The visual of a SUPA weapon destroying bricks is smooth and flows well, like the rest of the visuals and the frame-rate. The menus are bland, and the characters could use a few more facial details. The graphics are nice, but the audio is a large turnoff, because it detracts from the experience.
AstroPop is a fast-paced and addictive puzzle game. Fans of the genre are sure to find something to like because of its classic and easy to pick up controls. Even with the lackluster sound, a nice graphical component and terrific gameplay make up for it in spades. If you’re even a passing fan of puzzle games, you owe it to yourself to give AstroPop a whirl.
Community review by ghostyghost (August 10, 2006)
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