Overall Score 87%
Now surely there cannot be a person reading this page who has never heard of Asteroids. I shouldn't need to explain the now ancient concept of a ship stranded in an asteroid field and blasting rocks apart for its own survival, or the way in which rocks didn't disappear but split into smaller rocks. Ooops. I guess I just did.
'Troid is based on that ancient concept, featuring your ship in a rubbery walled arena blasting big rocks into smaller rocks and so on, but that's like saying Buffy The Vampire Slayer is based on Dracula. While utterly true, it misses the point - like Buffy, 'Troid does things with a style that the classic does not. 'Troid also has a lot of new things in it, like space squids, snake things and bonus gates.
You control your ship with four buttons, which (as they are customisable) I will simply call Left, Right, Thrust and Fire. This is even less complex than Asteroids, lacking the Hyperspace escape button that could drop you anywhere (including on top of an asteroid). To your advantage, the thrusters seem rather more efficient than the original. Strafing runs are much easier and look cool. But the major difference is in the scoring.
There are two ways to play 'Troid. You can either aim to get as far as possible (with thirty stages, that's a lot of scope) and can continue from a later point if you desire. Or you can play for points, either a single (beaten) stage or a full game. Points are scored by the usual system of blasting rocks, but the twist is that here you have a multiplier. If you blast three rocks of the same size in a row, your multiplier increases, and you earn more points. There is, therefore, a logical approach to each stage in order to get maximum points.
Graphics and sound are both excellent for 'Troid, though the synthetic speech is unclear (is that "Aaargh!" when you die, or a rude word?). While the game is largely confined to a single screen, the motion still seems to flow around your ship. The graphical representations for shielded rocks and so on are intuitive, which is good as the instructions are minimal. Your shots make different noises when they hit targets, too.
This is an immensely playable game. It takes a few goes to get the hang of flying your ship - and unlike the original Asteroids, flying about is essential. You'll be picked off easily with the old and boring strategy of 'stay in the middle and shoot anything too close'. You'll soon stop swearing at the controls and start swearing because you completed the level with less than the maximum points, at which point you'll realise you've grown addicted to the game.
Downsides, downsides... I am pleased to say that I found very few. A lack of clear instructions is my biggest gripe - I discovered the keys for playing only after I'd set them to different ones. A means of restoring these to defaults would also be a good addition.
'Troid has been a pleasure to play and a joy to review. Though a simple game with a simple concept, it does so with panache and therefore deserves praise. Well done!
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