We previously published an article about the retro inspiration behind the none turbo version of our frantic space blaster. We limited the article to cover only a few games. This article will expand on these games and also add some of the not so retro game inspiration behind the new massively expanded ‘Turbo Edition’, Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo. From old-school shmups like Asteroids, The Galactic Plague, and Super Fantasy Zone to modern space shooters like Geometry Wars, Super Stardust HD, and Resogun. Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo has been bred from a stellar lineage of space blaster video games.
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved
The game originally launched as a mini-game in Project Gotham Racing on the original Xbox. Even though I owned Project Gotham Racing on Xbox I have no recollection of playing the Geometry Wars mini-game. It wasn’t until 2007 when Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved launched on PC that I got to feast my eyes on the kaleidoscopic firework colour-fest of a shoot ’em up. At the time the game seemed to bring retro mechanics from games like Robotron: 2084 all the way up to the present with flashy 2d graphics and dual thumb stick controller support.
The game played like a dream. Blasting those colourful shapes with twin stick controls was so addictive and ‘just one more go’ could be heard being shouted repeatedly. The shaders and effects used to manipulate the 2d grid in the background added a real depth and sense of a third dimension to the 2d shooter. Like Robotron before it, the game put the player inside a rectangle with a visible impenetrable edge. The player could touch the edge without damage but could not travel through it. This added an element of strategy to the run ‘n’ gun mentality of the gameplay. Making sure you always had an escape route from a pursuing hoard of geometrically shaped enemies was crucial, especially if you had no screen-clearing bombs left.
A Further Retro Evolution
Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved was a huge inspiration to me when developing Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo. Although the firework displays may not be as seizure inducing; destroying enemies and firing the variety of weapons available create some really cool colourful moments. I expanded on the edge of the screen barrier by making it actually destroy you on touch like in Bit Blaster XL. This makes the player really have to focus when playing especially when controlling one of the faster space blasters. In the shop there is a ‘warp-engine’ perk. Unlocking this will allow you to remove the barriers and warp from screen edge to screen edge a-la Asteroids.
The Housemarque Inspiration
In my opinion Housemarque’s shoot ’em ups are second to none. Perhaps not truly retro yet, they are still a massive inspiration behind my game development. The Stardust series of games is an amazing series of space shooters. Super Stardust HD (2007) on the PlayStation®3 is my all time favourite. Even after you’d completed the game the Trophies offered a real challenge and kept me playing for ages. It inspired me to add some challenging Trophies/Achievements to Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo that should keep you playing long after completing all the game modes.
The gameplay in Super Stardust HD felt quite unique. Flying around a miniature 3 dimensional planet blasting asteroids and aliens, collecting power-up weapons and shields and wiping out nearby enemies with bombs felt great. All these gameplay elements have made there way into our game, except for the miniature 3d planet, Space Blaster Turbo is definitely 2d. In the game a computer-like synthetic female voice would give you information, “Multiplier up”, or “Bomb!”. This really added to the feeling of piloting a space fighter and meant that you didn’t need to look at the HUD at crucial times.
I decided to add a synthetic voice to Super Mega Space Blaster Turbo to aid the player in knowing what is going on during intense space battles. I didn’t just add one voice though, in Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo you can choose your AI Voice from a selection of AI characters both female and male and with a variety of accents.
The Resogun Revolution
Well I thought Super Stardust HD was one of the best, none plot based, shoot ’em ups ever. That was until Housemarque excelled themself in 2013 and released Resogun on the PS4™ (definitely not retro yet). This game blew my mind. I spent hours in both single player and local coop blasting my way through the game on every difficulty unlocking every trophy. The game was based on a similar premise to the Fantasy Zone series of games in that you travelled around a central cylinder. The difference this time was it was a 3d voxel based cylinder and when you were around one side you could see what was going on on the other side of the centre.
In the game you had to rescue a number of humans in each level. You did this by destroying enough enemies for a human to be released then picking them up on your ship and dropping them in the rescue portal. At the end of each level there was an epic boss battle and in the boss design the Super Fantasy Zone influence was obvious.
This was a huge inspiration to the new ‘Save The Colony’ game mode in Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo. In the mode you have to rescue cute ‘blastronauts’, who are survivors of a wrecked colony ship. As you destroy more enemies more blastronauts float on screen. You have to pick them up with your space blaster and drop them in the rescue ship at the bottom of the screen. At the end of the mode there is an epic Super Fantasy Zone inspired big-boss battle. As in Super Stardust HD, Resogun features a synthetic voice to give you crucial information without interrupting the blasting.
True Retro Pedigree
Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo takes inspiration from truly retro games as well as the more modern games mentioned so far. Not only is the big-boss hugely inspired by the boss battles in Super Fantasy Zone on the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis in the US), the idea for the shop also came from the shop in Super Fantasy Zone.
Games like Robotron, The Galactic Plague, and Asteroids have all inspired my space blaster. Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo really is a fusion of retro and modern shoot ;em up game mechanics. It may not be as big or colourful as some of its inspiration. It is certainly at least as much fun. The original release garnered a lot of great reviews. From an 8.5/10 from Pixel Crashers to 80% from Wala Wala Gaming to a “GREAT” rating from The Game Hoard. The gameplay is truly compelling and keeps you coming back for “Just one more go!” and has led to the game being dubbed the ‘easy to play hard to master space blaster’. You can grab a copy on Nintendo Switch™, PS4™, or Steam(Win/Lin/Mac) on 14th January 2020 and judge for yourself.
A little more to do on Super Mega Space Blaster Special Turbo, it’s launching on Nintendo Switch, PS4 & Steam very soon. Then it’s back to developing The Flawless: Arts Tale and expanding the Flawless world of cats. See you in space, happy blasting! To keep up to date with everything BKD join the Discord: discord.gg/J4ynrFD or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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Ste Wilson is a director, game developer, and programmer at Bare Knuckle Development Ltd. When not coding away on BKD games he can be found playing video games on console and PC. He also makes music under the music maker name of ‘Electric Fan Death’ and loves playing guitar, writing tunes, and producing music.