Af­ford­able Space Ad­ven­tures

Wii U


The as­sur­ances of a brochure sell­ing bud­get pack­age hol­i­days need care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion, and the same ev­i­dently ap­plies to low-cost in­ter­stel­lar travel. In Af­ford­able Space Ad­ven­tures you’re promised an un­for­get­table trip to the beau­ti­ful Spec­tac­u­lon, but you’re in­stead dumped in a bleak waste­land, con­trol­ling a rick­ety craft whose sys­tems aren’t fully op­er­a­tional yet. Nat­u­rally, the en­vi­ron­ments are more haz­ardous than travel op­er­a­tor UEx­plore makes out, though the point of chal­lenge here is less about ex­ter­nal threat so much as mas­ter­ing un­con­ven­tional con­trols.

The mis­lead­ingly named set­ting is host to a se­ries of dingy, cav­ernous en­vi­ron­ments. Your main source of il­lu­mi­na­tion is the ship’s flash­light, the right ana­logue stick sweep­ing it across sur­faces as you ten­ta­tively put­ter on­ward. As with all the craft’s sys­tems, the power it ex­pends is dis­played on your in­ge­niously named ‘heads-down dis­play’. While at first you won’t need to dim the beam, you’ll soon need to man­age the elec­tric­ity you’re gen­er­at­ing as well as the sound and tem­per­a­ture that you’re ra­di­at­ing: Spec­tac­u­lon is pop­u­lated by arte­facts that will dis­patch any in­trud­ers within their ra­dius with a jolt­ing blast if dis­turbed. Some are re­spon­sive to heat signatures, oth­ers to noise, which means each dis­crete stage be­comes a tense plate­spin­ning act as you si­mul­ta­ne­ously guide your ship while min­imis­ing its out­puts to re­main un­de­tected.

For lone play­ers, switch­ing be­tween regular and touch con­trols – and your at­ten­tion be­tween TV and GamePad – soon be­comes a chal­lenge, though there are but­ton short­cuts for most crit­i­cal in­puts, and there’s usu­ally enough breath­ing space to con­sider your next move be­fore forg­ing on. Most puzzles al­low for dif­fer­ent ap­proaches, too: you might turn off your en­gines to drop past a group of enemies, or use low-level thrust to glide through slowly. Later so­lu­tions are more ex­act­ing and lim­it­ing, but ev­ery bit as sat­is­fy­ing, whether you’re us­ing noth­ing but mo­men­tum and fric­tion­less land­ing gear to ac­cel­er­ate over gaps, or open­ing shut­ters to build up suf­fi­cient in­ter­nal heat to sur­vive icier ter­ri­tory.

Col­lab­o­ra­tive play trans­forms the chal­lenge. With one player guiding the craft via a Pro con­troller, an­other op­er­at­ing scan­ner and searchlight with a Wii Re­mote, and a third man­ag­ing the gauges via GamePad, it should be eas­ier, but re­ly­ing on oth­ers to per­form in­struc­tions in con­cert in­vari­ably leads to as many amus­ing fail­ures as tri­umphs. As such, Af­ford­able Space Ad­ven­tures is a game that could only work on Wii U, which is rea­son enough to cel­e­brate its ex­is­tence. But even dis­re­gard­ing that, this is a splen­did, imag­i­na­tive game, and fur­ther proof of the tal­ents of its cre­ator.

Pub­lisher KnapNok Games De­vel­oper In-house, Nick­las ‘Nif­flas’ Ny­gren For­mat Wii U Re­lease Out now


There are two dif­fi­culty set­tings, Tourist and Tech­ni­cal, with some puzzles sim­pli­fied in the for­mer. Its im­ple­men­ta­tion is a lit­tle in­con­sis­tent: tough chal­lenges are left un­touched, while one test is too ag­gres­sively neutered

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