Linux Gaming News

‘Luftrausers’ a game with style and substance

LUFTRAUSERS” By Vlambeer for the Linux, Mac, PC, PS Vita, and PlayStation3. Rated E for everyone. Grade: A-

What’s the cut-off age for #Atari2600 nostalgia? Would 20-year-olds be familiar with that #system? Maybe if they found a box of their parents’ college stuff in the attic and didn’t mind ruining their eyes by playing it on an #HDTV.

The 2600 homage “Luftrausers” looks like an Atari game with its blocky graphics and minimal palette of two or three colors. You even play it with one joystick and one button. A bare-bones version could easily be ported to the 2600, a short “Luftrausers” demo for a ’70s system that could never handle the full game.

“Luftrausers” isn’t mere nostalgia, though. It might look like something you could’ve bought at Zayre in 1981, but Vlambeer’s new air battle game is too complex to squeeze into one of those small black cartridges. It mixes that 2600 aesthetic with unlockable perks and mobile-style goals to create one of the oddest, most exciting games of the year.

There are two basic actions in “Luftrausers”: flying, shooting, spiraling around in the sky in a massive, unending dogfight. You fire with any of the four face buttons and can just hold the button down for constant offense. Enemy planes swarm around you, rushing out clouds of bullets, while battleships and carriers attack from the sea below. Destroy an enemy to add to your score. Every bullet and midair collision hurts your plane, and if you’re hit too much, you explode, ending your game. The point is to survive as long as possible while taking out enemies and racking up points.

There’s no health meter. Like a first-person shooter, the only way to gauge your health is to pay attention to the color of the screen. As you’re hit, a circle of white closes around you. When that white touches you, your plane explodes and your game is over. You can regenerate health, but only when you don’t fire. So you have to be judicious with your gunshots.

As you accomplish goals, you unlock new weapons, planes and other bonuses that can greatly change your strategies. You can even change the color palette eventually, as on the 2600.

“Luftrausers” is a minimalist game with deep possibilities. Simple at its core, the action never grows repetitive. It’s a great arcade game and a better mobile game.

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