Have you ever wanted to explore space, but it’s just not in your budget?
You’re in luck — now you can. Wii U released a new indie title called “Affordable Space Adventures” (ASA). There aren’t too many games from third party developers on Wii U, especially for those who use the game pad and “ASA.”
Although you don’t get to explore the entirety of space, you do get to explore one alien planet. The Uexplore Company lets you use one of it’s ships in a time-share like contract that lets you rent a ship and explore in comfort and safety. There isn’t much story to be found in “ASA”, it is more similar to “Portal” the only thing you know is the basics of Uexplore Company, and you learn about their motives as you progress. Quickly you learn they are not as friendly of a corporation as they appear to be.
“ASA” is a 2D side scrolling game where you fly your ship around and explore. The art style looks hand drawn and most things are bright and colorful. There is great use of light and shadows that make it look breathtaking on Wii U. The place where the game really shines is its use of the touch screen pad.
Using the touch-pad, you have to monitor the statuses of your ship from engine controls, heat, and most importantly fuel. There are two types of fuel and electricity and using each determines how your ship functions and how loud it is. Some enemies respond to sound so you have to be careful which fuel to use around them.
There are also enemies who react to heat so you have to use your electric engine to remain undetected. Figuring out the navigation is only one of the types of puzzles; there are portals, lasers and other obstacles to avoid along the way. Some times navigation can be a real challenge because it is mostly done on the gamepad. You must figure out how to manage your thrusters and which levers to pull to move forward. There are meters you have to watch in order to move around. Another thing you have to contend with is the system sometimes shuts down and all of your systems are dead until you reboot, this can really lead to some tense situations, especially if you are surrounded by enemies. Managing all of these things can become a bit tedious but you can also manage these things with the help of two friends.
If you decide to play multiplayer it feels a bit like a “Star Trek” team because one person steers, another manages the thrusters and engine levels. The third person monitors for enemy activity and different things you need to fire your weapon at such as switches. It is really neat how it forces you to communicate and work together to solve the various problems along the way. If you don’t have friends to play with, don’t worry, it is actually a bit easier to play the game solo.
Overall I enjoyed “Affordable Space Adventures,” although it isn’t for everyone. The game play does take some getting used to but once you do, the controls are a lot of fun. I have never played a space game where I had to manage all the different aspects of the ship. This was a welcome innovation for me, and I did enjoy exploring this interesting looking world. The controls and the puzzles in the game will make you think and it’s great to see cool, independent games come out on Wii U. I hope to see what developers can do with the system in the future.