Monday, August 30, 2021

Game 31: Aero Star


You might have noticed that the screenshots look a little bit different than before. Instead of perfect, sharp pixels...they're a little fuzzy. This is because I am increasingly lazy as I age.

Formerly, I would capture the screenshots at their native resolution: 160x144. This is the resolution of the game boy, and is just a bit too small for a modern device. Think "postage stamp on a mattress" and you'll get the idea.

Then, I would take all of these screenshots and apply an IrfanView macro to them that tripled their size but kept them pixel perfect. These 480x432 pictures were perfect for the blog theme I'm using, which is honestly outdated and quite narrow. But they worked.

Now, the first thing is still true - I capture them at native resolution. But now I don't give a shit and just upload them straight to Blogger, and set the size to "Medium". This resizes them using the browser, which does not maintain pixel perfect resolution. Instead, they get antialiased a little bit, because that's how most people would prefer to see pictures. But you know what? I could resize these pictures and post once every 3 years, or I can just upload them right to Blogger and post more regularly. 

I choose the latter. They say that "perfect" is the enemy of "good", but "good" is also the enemy of "just doing the god-damned thing" and I'm shooting for that.

Anyway, Aero Star absolutely rules. It's hard as hell, but it just freakin rocks. 

Aero Star is a shmup of sorts - you have a little ship/car thing, and you shoot bullets towards the top of the screen to blow up bad guys of some description. Neat! Not special.

"Neat! Not special" was my mother's pet name for me

But there's a gimmick here that changes everything. See that little road that the tank is driving on? That's also the road your ship drives on. Yes, your ship is genuinely just a car. And that puts some hard limitations on your movement and dodging ability.

But wait, there's more! Your ship can jump. So I guess it's not just a car after all, unless you've got a real messed up car. 

This Z axis is very important, because not only does it let you skip portions of the road, it also lets you dodge bullets on that level. I can hear you now: "What are you trying to tell me? That I can jump over bullets?"

 I'm trying to tell you that when you're ready, you won't have to. Wait, no, that's not true.

Of course, it's not consequence free. There are three problems this causes:

1. You have a JUMP meter which determines how long you can stay in the air, which maxes out at about 3 seconds. If that runs out while you're not over a road, you die.
2. Landing from that height is really, really hard on your shocks.
3. There are BIG bullets that are in this higher plane. They will only kill you while you are jumping.

See the problem here? Jumping is a strategic maneuver in a frankly already-hectic game. It's a very important decision to make and having bad timing spells certain doom.

Petitioning to add "Tank Jumping" as an olympic sport

That means that I suck at this game. Even on Easy, I could barely get to level 2. I found myself consistently jumping into bullets that were above me, or mismanaging my JUMP meter and landing in the ocean. It's hard!

But it's really interesting and a great design for this game. The Game Boy is not a powerful machine. You can't put a million bullets or a trillion enemies on the screen. By adding a layer of strategy, the low sprite count can be compensated for by increased complexity in dealing with those few enemies. 

It's a great game! And look at this boss!!!

Anything I say will only detract from its splendor

What a mean looking bastard! It's cool as hell, and I love it to death.

To make it even cooler, level 2 is some sort of "inside a computer" aesthetic, which I am 100% invested in as a millennial who only discovered vaporwave in 2018:

I'll be honest, this isn't the best screenshot of it, but I was afraid of dying again

The music is also alright. It's a really solid game and really knows how to work with the limitations of the Game Boy. In fact, it's not a port of an arcade game, and it was never released for any other device. It's a true Game Boy native.

All that said, I sucked so bad at it that I barely beat the high score default of 20,000:


It's a really neat game though! This might be the highest praise I've had for a game on this blog, and it easily beats 1942. Easily.

We've got a game coming up next that is not altogether unlike Aero Star, except for the fact that everything about it is different, so it should be a neat comparison. See ya next time!

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