REVIEW: Space Battle

Both from a visual and a purely mechanical standpoint, there’s nothing new to see in the bland-sounding Space Battle1 ($1.00); it’s an amalgam of every twin-stick shooter set in space that you’ve ever played2. And not necessarily the good parts of said shooters either. Developer Chris Antoni’s take on the genre feels more ‘me too’-ish than anything else, and the dour, spartan backgrounds do little to help matters. On the surface, it’s entirely predictable.

Space Battle - Screen

The offline action takes place over sixteen challenging— albeit same-y— solo levels. The initial stages one-up themselves, adding a new enemy type until eventually you’re fighting off hordes of every type. It gets hectic. Unfortunately, it never feels all that thrilling. You get the standard ship upgrades, granting you additional shots or boosting your movement. You get a powerup that freezes enemies in place. And that’s about it. Even the overused, gimmicky, ‘bullet time’-esque slowdown that occasionally triggers when you’re near enemies or dodging laser fire can be more trouble than it’s worth, suddenly disorienting you and limiting your view.

Still, the game’s ‘Online War’ mode offers up a few interesting wrinkles to try and offset the rest of the otherwise familiar package. Rather than make things just a one-on-one duel, Space Battle mixes together parts of RPG-style progress grinding and card deck building, letting you put together an armada of ships (culled from the game’s single-player enemies) and purchase additional card slots and upgrades with currency earned through winning fights. The game allows you to tweak said loudouts beforehand, then sets you loose in a galaxy hub screen and offers up to 31 players online3 to match decks with and battle against.

Space Battle - Screen2

In theory, this should make for exciting combinations and battles, but your options are limited to a handful of choices and upgrades. Essentially, it boils down to picking the upper tier cards (earned randomly from wins) and maxing out your own ship’s stats. Building an impressive deck is slow, too. The cost to buy additional slots is high, making the process more of a grind than it needs to be, and with hardly anyone around playing XBLIGs online (a side effect of a dying scene), you’ll have to make do with the A.I. more often than not.

All in all, though, it just feels like a retread of past twin-stick shooters. And that’s not the vibe you want your game to be saddled with. Despite the interesting idea behind the online play (an idea you likely won’t get to appreciate in its intended form), Space Battle looks and plays too generic everywhere else to hold your interest for long.

  1. Seriously, Chris, I enjoy your games, buddy, but you’ve got to think of a better title than Space BattleΒ for the next one. Literally anything would be better. Eyeballs in Space, maybe, or Chuck’s Fantastic Space Adventure. I mean, I don’t know what somebody named Chuck has to do with it, but you get the idea. Something else
  2. And if you’ve played a decent amount of XBLIGs over the years, you know that ‘twin-stick shooter set in space’ is a rather common idea amongst indie developers. I guess it’s a rite of passage. 
  3. Wishful thinking. I never found a single soul to do battle against. 

27 thoughts on “REVIEW: Space Battle”

  1. I kinda enjoy the game. Having played a bunch of twin sticks on the XBLIG service this one is rather different; the animations may be a bit crude but at least there aren’t masses of starburst effects to disguise that and obscure the true shooting gameplay. The “veer in” slowdown shots do serve to intensify the focus, and the fact your ship has to level up to do well against some enemies makes it a more satisfying grind. It is well worth the buck.

    1. Hmm. Well, to each their own, of course, and I always respect Chris for what he tries to do (tweaking existing genres, or blending gameplay modes, etc.). I personally found it too bland / generic, but you do make a very valid point about it being ‘pure shooter’. I’d argue many other, flashier shooters still do a better job, but there are some things to like about the game, no doubt. πŸ™‚

  2. HI. I remember having laughed at his previous game “Loot or Die” about its horrible design. But, this “space battle” is really more interesting even it is not original.

    1. If you’re a fan of shooters, I agree it’s got all the core parts you need. Loot or Die is still the far superior game, (in my unprofessional opinion πŸ˜€ ), but given that they come from different game genres, that’s always going to depend on a person’s preference.

  3. Hey Chris, any chance you could post some more info on your new game? I watched your videos, and like the owner of this blog, I’m intrigued by what I’ve seen so far.

    PS Oh sorry Tim, did I just use the evil B word? πŸ™„ [runs away]

    1. Lol watch those 4 letter words!

      I upload to that YouTube channel anytime I finish around 4-8 hours of coding. I don’t want to spam this b… site with videos.

      Oh, xblig is working again and really scary 3 is at 91% reviewed!

  4. I got the first 50 haha

    No prob metal lord!

    XBLIG has been unusable almost a month now for developers. Really Scary 3 is done but I can’t release.

    Here’s sneak peak at my next game I’m development!

    1. @Chris: Thanks for the vid; always interesting to see how you piece these games together little by little. πŸ™‚ I’m intrigued, I admit.

      Has there been any word on XBLIG’s troubles from MS, or is it one of the usual, ‘we’re working on it’ things, with no timetable for a fix or explanation for developers? I’d say you guys should be reimbursed for your membership time lost due to the outage, but that’s probably a pipe dream. Shame they have to put the ‘ID@Xbox’ guys on it, instead of having a dedicated (even one person would be nice) team to deal with XBLIG issues specifically. What a mess.

    2. There is a girl named Jessica who handles xblig pr now and she gave us 4 month codes to compensate. I hope it doesn’t take that long to fix!

    3. @ImTheMetalLord: And now feature achievements and full leaderboard support! πŸ˜‰

      @Chris: Ah, well that’s a good thing to come out of it (while crossing your fingers that it doesn’t take that long, for sure!). I take back some of what I said previously then, if they’ve got someone to handle you guys personally. Kudos to them for that.

  5. Out of bounds? Are you kidding me?

    LOL Chris c’mon man…either make the borders pass through or bounce off of them but death?? My god man I kill number 99 on the string of 100 after several tries and I die for going out of bounds??? That’s when I turned the game off and went to pinball. πŸ˜›

    1. Haha, same thing happened to me, albeit on another stage. πŸ˜‰

      Consider it an added enemy; no easy escape route or looping stage mechanic. Frustrating, sure, but you have to fight your way out.

  6. Thanks to the always-accommodating Mr. Chris Antoni, I have TWO copies of Space Battle to hand out. Reply to this comment with your willingness to… ah… do battle in… space… and the game is yours!

    1. Thanks for the fair review! I made this as a challenge for myself, using only free sounds/music/graphics instead of my own and adding the 31 player multiplayer for the first time.

      It did ok the first week and i’d see groups of like 3-6 but recently I only ever see 1 other person when I check. You get more stars fighting other fleets and you get stars when people die to yours. It’s fun crap talking each other but due to lack of players you’ll want to invite people in order to gaurantee a multiplayer experience.

    2. IMHO there aint not thing as a bad Twin Stick Shooter and besides “if it’s free it’s for me” !!!! LOL

      On top of that I have space needing filling. πŸ˜›

      WASSUP with no more replies…we hit the limit?

    3. @Chris: No problem, as always. It’s just a shame I can’t like every game I play of yours. πŸ™‚

      Ah, well then, I now see why I found it so familiar and thought it played like every twin-stick space shooter ever… because its parts are taken from every twin-stick space shooter ever. πŸ˜€ At least the multiplayer idea is novel, but yeah, I figured the prospective audience would crash after the first few initial weeks. Really no getting around it. That, and I took forever to actually play the game (a long story, not at all interesting).

      @ImTheMetalLord: Code is on the way! Of course we can’t let that massive HD of yours go to waste! πŸ˜€

      I’ve got to look into the ‘no reply’ issue. It was there this morning when I posted, so not sure what happened. Odds are, it’s some box I’ve got to check / un-check. :/

    4. So, Twin Sticks, strippers are pros with those things. I want a code please!!!

    5. @ImTheMetalLord: You bastard! πŸ˜€ That was a nice underhanded softball pitch I threw up there, wasn’t it? I was going to put something in parenthesis, too, just to ward off any ‘That’s what she said!’ shit, and then there you go. Damn… …my own fault… πŸ™‚

      @xionix55: Code is yours, sir! I will send it shortly. Stripper Gods be praised for your good fortune! πŸ˜€

    6. Lol, thank you.
      The game does not seem like the last brazilian booty on earth but space shooters are always good for a quick pick up and play. Thx again.

    7. LMAO!!! That was even an underhanded softball pitch but more like T Ball and was to good not to hit it out of the park.
      Thanks for the code btw. I sent Chris a ty on xbox as well but if you don’t see it ty you bud.

    8. Hold on a second, Chris Antoni was the first one to reply to your ‘free code‘ comment, which technically means he should get the first code πŸ˜€

    9. @Soosh: Chris beat me to it already (see above), but yeah, I was going to say it wasn’t needed; he got the first 50 codes! πŸ˜€

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