Unlike all of his previous games for PlayStation Mobile, Thomas Hopper decided to take a chance with the release of this futuristic action / strategy game and rather than release it at a budget price, he made the bold decision to release a cut down limited free edition giving gamers the option to pay to unlock the full game. A brave move from any developer, but is it a game worth unlocking..?
Set in the future (as if you hadn’t guessed), Earth – as always – is involved in an interplanetary war. The human race is under attack and for some unknown, and rather clichéd reason, you are Earth’s only hope. A planet with a population of billions and for some reason there are no other pilots capable of saving the planet (why does that always seem to be the case?). Anyway, you head off in an experimental shuttle (now, personally I’d say it’s not the ideal time to try out a new untested ship, but there you go…) and you make your way to one of Earth’s remaining space stations. Here, you have to regroup and prepare yourself to strike back for the sake of the human race…
It’s a plot full of all the usual science fiction clichés and is instantly forgettable. It’s nothing that hasn’t been seen or heard of a thousand times before in books, comics and games and immediately it puts Shuttle Quest in a less than positive light. Before you even get to the game, you groan to yourself and genuinely wonder just what you’re letting yourself in for. So what happens next when you actually get into the game itself? The game is split into two elements – the first part is a top down view set aboard the station itself where you can explore, talk to the crew members and the station’s captain and be assigned various missions to explore or defend regions of space. To receive missions you visit various members of the crew and after talking to them you can select practice missions of varying lengths or themed missions, all of which involve taking flight in your shuttle.
Once you’ve finished with the space station side of the game it’s on to the missions themselves. On a basic level, they’re straightforward side-scrolling shoot-em-ups reminiscent of R-Type and countless others that we’ve all seen in the 80s onwards in the arcades and home computers / consoles ever since. Initially your shuttle is equipped with just a single shot laser which is barely powerful enough to destroy oncoming ships that are hell bent on eliminating you. Occasionally, as you destroy these, pods will be left behind but rather than giving you power-ups as you’d expect they leave valuable resources that you can make use of back on the space station itself.
Unlike traditional shoot-em-ups, it’s not game over when your ship is destroyed. You have a set amount of energy for each mission and when this is depleted, the mission is over and it’s back to the station and the mission is declared a failure and you lose a percentage of your cash reserves. Reach the end successfully however, and you receive a healthy cash bonus. Missions are split into tiers which get increasingly difficult and the hardest mission in each tier has a boss that you have to defeat allowing you to unlock the next tier of missions – 30 in total. Even though each of the individual missions have no what could be considered to be “end of stage” bosses, there are larger adversaries scattered throughout them to give you enough of a fight to keep you challenged.
When you get back on the station, you will have collected these resources and all this cash but what do you do with it all? That’s where the shops come in to play. You can use the resources you have collected as well as the cash to upgrade your ship by purchasing new weapons and pods that follow your ship around (just think R-Type and Nemesis), or sell anything you have picked up for extra cash. If you don’t quite have enough cash to buy the weapons you want, you can use one of the other station vendors to craft them at a reduced rate using some of the resources you’ve found on your missions. If you want to craft them but don’t quite have the resources you need, you can either buy the missing components or go back into space and either go on routine missions or repeat ones you have already completed.
Beyond that, you can spend time interacting with the other characters on the station, using the somewhat talkative door to your quarters who is only too happy to save your game’s progress, or talking to crewmembers to receive new mission orders and that’s pretty much the essence of the whole game.
As with Sea Run, the game recreates the look and feel of a Gameboy title which suits the retro gameplay perfectly. In fact, if you look past the fact that you’re looking at an OLED screen and have a vastly more comfortable console in your hands, you could easily be forgiven into thinking that you’re playing a retro RPG shooter and for me that’s one of the great things about this game. With many old games focusing on pick-up-and-play mechanics and designed around gameplay that didn’t require instruction manuals the size of War And Peace, this is the sort of game I love – something that you can pick up, play for a while and then come back to whenever you like and keep progressing. Whether you play for a couple of missions or for an hour or two to buy that essential ship upgrade is entirely up to you but the game is designed with both styles of play in mind.
All of the missions have been designed with repeat play in mind. As with Sea Run, the missions are randomly generated so no two games will ever be the same and that’s what makes Shuttle Quest 2000 so appealing. While the missions themselves are relatively short, they’re fun and playable and will satisfy anyone who loves retro-style shooters. With the very nature of the game needing endless grinding to build up cash and resources you’d expect it to get tiresome quickly flying the same missions over and over again as you improve your shuttle to be able to take on the tougher missions so the random aspect of them is a fantastic addition to the game. No matter how good a gamer you are, you have to rely purely on your gaming abilities to get through each mission rather than memory giving this a unique twist.
With a free trial available giving you a complete set of missions to try out for yourself, there’s no reason whatsoever why you shouldn’t download this game for yourself. The random factor gives Shuttle Quest 2000 almost limitless replayability, whether you want to aim to complete all of the missions to try to complete the game or just play in short bursts and look upon it as a series of mini games for quick play sessions making for a great time waster or a game for more serious long term play. Overall it’s great fun and is one of those games that will give you just as much back as you’re willing to put into it. An essential PlayStation Mobile purchase.
At A Glance
- Title: Shuttle Quest 2000
- Publisher: TACS Games
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 19Mb