Retro games hold a special place in the hearts of everyone for different reasons. If you’re old enough, these games bring back fond memories of pumping change into arcade machines which allowed the flashing lights and 8-bit soundtracks to entice until you realize you’ve just spent all your pocket money. For younger audiences, its all about being introduced to the classics by your elders. Like being taught how to shave or learning about the ‘birds and the bees’. Voxeliens, developed by Volumes of Fun, is just this sort of game.
We live in a time now where classics are bastardized, ripped apart and hastily pasted back together to try and appeal to the new generation. In film, we have the up coming Total Recall reboot, and in gaming we have the embarrassingly forgettable Golden Axe: Beast Rider. But what if your source material was so basic, was such a simple template, that to recreate it as it was would probably be harder than to just take the concept and run with it?
Well, that’s where Voxeliens comes in. While it’s by no means the first game to rejuvenate the Space Invaders gameplay with a modern twist, it is probably the most interesting. While your typical game of space invaders (or whatever re-hash you choose to play) takes place in a 2D battlefield, (with or without 3D graphics), Voxeliens has you battling alien ships in a 3D environment.
Using your mouse to control the camera (which there is no other way to describe other than pretty cool), you traverse across the ground, shooting up at the enemy ships that fly above. The essential concept is still the same as Space Invaders; the ships decent slowly, they drop powerups, and if you lose all your lives its game over. Its just that added dimension gives it that extra… pizazz.
Unfortunately, the music isn’t as good as ye games of old, and that takes something away from the gameplay. The simplicity of the original Space Invaders slow, steady ba-dum-dum-dum-dum, which got faster and faster as the hordes amassed really added tension to a game. It seems games these days lose their focus on what makes a gamer tick, and taking away that little something really takes away from that feeling of: “I CAN’T HIT THE LAST ONE!”
Not only does the lack of a engaging soundtrack detract from the game sucking you in and stealing all your change (if it was in an arcade that is) but other little things stop it from being the challenge you want, and more of a recreational game. There is no time limit to the game and enemies don’t speed up like in the original. Add this to the fact that obstacles in the game mean you have to wait for enemies to move from above them, and the game starts to feel sluggish rather than fast paced like the original.
It’s these tiny little things that highlight a larger problem for games such as these. Its no easy feat to improve on the simplicity of classic titles such as Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Tetris. The game is by no means a bad game, in fact its very fun. But it’s not as fun as Space Invaders.
One place it does improve however, is the graphics. When looking at the colorful, block-pixel terrain, one can’t help but mention Minecraft and how much it seems to be influenced by it. But whether it was influenced or it ripped it off entirely, it doesn’t really matter as the game looks great. Not only is the terrain fun to look at, but the enemy design is gorgeous and the explosions and weapon-shots look awesome. Everything works perfectly and the aesthetic really brings everything to life.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?
Priced at $3.99, Voxeliens is a fun game to play despite some minor issues that detract from its heritage. Of course you’re going to find things wrong with it when comparing it to the golden oldies, but as a stand-alone title, it provides a good few hours of entertainment.
Voxeliens Technical Summary:
- Time Played – 3 Hours
- Widescreen Support – Yes (Runs at native Windows resolution)
- 5.1 Audio Support – No
- Bugs/Crashes Encountered – None Reported
- Control Scheme – Keyboard/Mouse
- DRM – None
- System Specs – GTX 460, Core2 Quad 2.4GHz, 4GB RAM
- Demo – Yes
- Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
- Availability – Official Site