A Space Shooter 2 Bucks! is Frima-developed PSN Minis game that has a really appropriate, albeit unoriginal, title. It’s a top-down space shooter a la 1942 that will run you a little over two bucks after taxes and all that jazz. If you have PlayStation Network Plus, then it’s free. With a title so direct, the game doesn’t try to sell itself as anything more than what it is: a simple shooter set in space for a reasonable price.
But is it worth it?
The short answer would be “yes.” The game minces no words and wastes no time about its purpose. As the player, you take control of a spaceship, relentlessly gunning down waves of enemies as they charge from every part of the screen. Helming the is Brock Samson-Lite, Commander P. Anderson, whose guttural, campy persona exhaustingly tries to make the game funnier than it actually is. With him is the Alfred to your Batman; a humanoid butler-type named Edgar IV.
From the start, A Space Shooter for 2 Bucks! has no training wheels. The onslaught of enemies seems grossly unfair against your pea-shooter spaceship. But the variety of special weapons and upgrades that the deceased leave behind provide plenty of incentive to keep hitting X. And hit it, you will.
On the game’s “Competent” mode (Normal), which runs about five hours, it lashes out a serious challenge. Death will be commonplace when you first take control. But as the gears start turning, there’s a gradual turnover of power. It’s just difficult enough to stay motivated and easy enough to allow progression. There’s a nice balance. More importantly, there’s no game over; a definite plus that doesn’t feel like a crutch. A Space Shooter for 2 Bucks! also has a checkpoint system so players don’t have to start every level over if they die. While this may seem too generous, there are times when the pressure is on and the next checkpoint can’t come soon enough.
It may not be as difficult as R-Type or Gradius on its average setting, but when it wants to be, A Space Shooter for 2 Bucks! is fantastically unforgiving.
The game’s controls are near perfect. The ship is responsive and accurate to each duck and evasion that is executed. Sluggish moments exist, but they’re too few and far between to really matter. With such polished controls and an earnest design, A Space Shooter for 2 Bucks! becomes highly addicting.
Using the power-ups is another well-rounded element. No one weapon feels overpowered or too weak. Aside from those gained by killing enemies, players can buy enhancements for the ship between stages from the game’s shop. To buy the upgrades, remnants are collected from downed enemies and spent as currency. Those who wish to collect every upgrade will have to do some serious grinding, though. Prices get intimidating by the end.
The game’s biggest folly would be Anderson, whose introductory backstory seems ill-placed and unnecessary. He’s a guy that wants to kill aliens for no real reason. No need to trivialize it further with a useless origin story that doesn’t really make sense. Anderson’s one-liners only make things worse. His quippy banter with Edgar IV just comes across as lame and cumbersome. As do his advances on the shop-owner, Jenna. The bits of dialogue in which he curses incessantly only to be censored are pretty hilarious, though.
So for the price and the amount of challenge, the game is worth checking out, as long as you can deal with a protagonist that threatens to “kick your sorry ass” if you don’t fly well.