Sunday, February 22, 2009

Midnight Snack: The Space Game

I honestly can't tell if he's winning or losing in this shot. From David Scott comes The Space Game, a refreshingly simplistic take on the space RTS genre. Its hosted on the Casual Collective, a site developed by Scott with Desktop Tower Defense creator Paul Preece.

You should know that I’m using the term RTS somewhat liberally. You see, the game functions as a kind of RTS/Tower Defense hybrid (I find that statement funny, considering that defense maps have their origins in modded versions of popular RTS games). Your two goals are mining and survival. All missions hinge on one, if not both, of those conditions. While mining, you must fend off ever-growing waves of pirate ships intent on shutting down your operation.

These enemy waves make the game feel similar to your typical dot-dot-dot Defense title. While the accumulation of resources via mining stations (not set amounts per each kill) gives it that RTS vibe. By combining the two, Scott manages to squeeze every last drop out of his “Mine X Amount Before You Die” formula. The campaign sees a nice progression in the types of enemies you face. Other modes ask that you acquire increasingly preposterous amounts of minerals. It may sound repetitive, but by the time you find it boring, you’ll probably have cleared the campaign and a number of bonus missions.

Most of the missions last a mere ten minutes at most, perfect for an engaging browser title. And, if you have your cookies enabled (does anyone not anymore?), the site will remember which levels you’ve beaten should the space pirates force you to step away in frustration.

The main reason I keep playing this game is the building construction system. Your various space stations, mining outposts, lasers, missile launchers, etc. are connected by a web of energy relays. A solar station constantly generates energy, which it then pumps to your buildings as they need it. Proper energy management becomes just as important as mining or defense placement. One of my favorite parts of playing is watching the relays light up as energy pulses through my web of intergalactic conquest. Oh, and the satisfaction I feel whenever my THELs (Tactical High Energy Lasers) rip a pirate Mothership to shreds.