The Space Incident - The Atari Times
In Space, No One Can Hear You Play
by David SherwinJune 19, 2007
I love it when new games pop up out of the blue, unannounced and unexpected, and it's even better when such surprises come in the form of a fun new title for the Lynx, which hasn't seen a quality game release in a dog's age. Actually, make that four new game releases, because the Lynx's newest title, The Space Incident (Yastuna Vol. 2) is a very neat collection of mini-games (Space Lock, Space Shoot, Space Domino, and Space Dance) that will probably keep Lynx enthusiasts happily occupied for at least the rest of the summer.
Space Shoot is probably my favourite game in the bunch; it's a modern enhancement of
Space Invaders, with little dashes of Zarlor Mercenary and Arkanoid thrown in, too. No one who has ever played a video game will need instructions for this one, although it modifies the simple Space Invaders formula by injecting a dash of strategy into the fun.
In Space Shoot, points are awarded for blasting enemy ships, and these points can later be traded for a number of clever weapons upgrades at the "Space Shoot Store" that can be accessed in between levels. Upgraded weapons also drain points, though, and you'll have to decide which ones offer the best value for money. Should you opt for the laser, which is cheap but weak, or bombs, which can wreak havoc with both enemy ships and your "bank" account? In addition, some powerups roll down from blasted ships, as in Arkanoid, as the game progresses. They can either be a real benefit or an annoying distraction depending on where you are in the game, and the fast decision making required to determine if they'll be helpful - in the middle of a fast-paced game - merely adds to the fun. These twists adds surprising depth to the game, and turns a pretty standard Space Invaders clone into something unique. It's highly recommended.
Space Lock is, apparently, a Lynx port of a famous strategy game that's appeared on a number of other systems. I hadn't played it before, but it's a puzzler, and bears enough similarity to
Sokoban that I had no difficulty learning the somewhat unusual gameplay. In
Space Lock, players must move their ship to the centre of the screen by directing it to and around various screen obstacles. The player's ship will move continuously after being prompted by the player, and will simply glide by (and through) the target if you aren't careful. Chip's Challenge fans will know the score on this one. Happily, the coders have included a mini-tutorial, which tells you all you need to know how to play this game, so there's no need to run to the game's website should confusion arise.
Space Lock contains over 60 native levels and has a level editor that will enable fans of the game to make their own, tricky levels that they can send to friends. This is a great idea that worked well for Crystal Mines II: Buried Treasure; I'm hoping that we'll eventually see a companion piece to Space Lock that will feature many new levels of fun.
Space Domino offers a simple game of dominoes that is fun to play around with, but is really more of an interesting demo than it is a fully playable port of this ancient game. The playing field is nice and bright, though, and the animations are a nice touch.
Space Dance is by far the oddest program on the cart. It's basically a mini-Lynx port of the popular Dance Dance Revolution cycle that has appeared on many platforms and, as you can imagine, you can't really do much with it here. Players are prompted to press various buttons on the Lynx in response to on-screen directions and prompting by the continual techo-beat soundtrack that pulses in the background, and are scored on their ability to follow instructions accurately. Players who achieve more than 80% move on to subsequent rounds, but the action is very fast-paced, and the game gets tough quickly. Obviously, Space Dance differs from other Dance Dance titles in removing the requirement for actual legwork, and the game is little more than a button-punching exercise, but it's still quite interesting, and worth more than a few rounds of play.
Graphics on all titles are highly polished and quite professional. I was especially impressed by the colourful galactic backgrounds in Space Lock and attractive enemy ships in Space Shoot, but there are nice touches throughout these games.
I wasn't as impressed by sound effects and music, but do admit a liking for the tune that plays during Space Dance. It wasn't quite good enough to get my feet moving, but that's probably a good thing here, given the fact that you can't really take your eyes of the Lynx to play the game.
The Space Incident is an excellent collection of games that will be welcomed by all Lynx enthusiasts looking for something new. I was fortunate enough to have a cartridge burned for me by a fellow Lynx enthusiast, but the developers have released The Space Incident as freeware, meaning that it can be enjoyed by all, for free, on the HANDY emulator. No Lynx enthusiast could ask for more - although with rumours circulating that Yastuna Vol. 1, with six more mini-games, is being readied for release, it looks like we'll be getting just that. And who said that the Lynx's best years are in the past?
Never played this gotta try to get the rom the rom gotta say game looks awasome! good use of lynx graphics also glad that the lynx homebrews are comeing out great!