Needing no introduction, Asteroids is one of those classic arcade games that everyone has played in some form or fashion. Atari looks to capitalize on that namesake with Asteroids GUNNER [Free], a modern upgrade to the Asteroids series which converts the game to a dual stick shooter complete with upgrades, unlockables, and IAP. While Asteroids GUNNER offers an adequate gameplay experience, the significant IAP barriers raises some questions as to whether the game is worth a significant play through.

Gameplay-wise, Asteroids GUNNER plays similarly to Space Miner with dual-stick controls instead of thrust-based movement.  Interestingly enough, Space Miner plays closer to classic Asteroids than Asteroids Gunner does. Everything from the controls to the plethora of asteroids to even the ability to customize your ships should feel familiar to any veterans of this genre. In fact, Asteroids’ main problem is that it all seems a bit too familiar – the game does very little to differentiate itself from the pack in any aspects. However, as far as the basic gameplay goes, Asteroids GUNNER does hit all the notes, and doesn’t do anything to detract from the generic dual stick shooter experience.

Despite these similarities, there are some differences. For one, the narrative in Asteroids GUNNER is non-existent; the game is divided into levels, and the goal is always the same, take out all the asteroids in each respective level as fast as possible with score bonuses for not damaging your ship. While I’m not going to ding an Asteroids game too hard for its lack of story, folks looking for a narrative shooter more akin to what is typically found on the App Store will probably be disappointed.

In addition, while Asteroids GUNNER has several currencies that can be collected (or bought with IAP) for upgrades, the main focus seems to be centered on achieving high scores. The main game mode provides you with a few lives with the goal being to score as many points as possible before losing them all. Also, quite a few of the ship upgrades available are based around increasing score multipliers (and nothing else). The emphasis on scoring appears to be one of the few throwbacks to classic Asteroids gameplay, but it just seems out of place when the rest of the game is focused on currency collection and upgrades.

One of the ‘modern’ upgrades to the Asteroid gameplay found in Asteroids GUNNER is the incorporation of freemium and IAP elements. Unfortunately, I just don’t think a lot of the freemium portions were incorporated well. While the first ship and first world are available free to all players, each subsequent world and different ship requires ‘Space Bucks’ to unlock. Space Bucks cannot be earned while playing the game - they can only be purchased as IAP.

This is a game design decision that I just don’t agree with; freemium games should allow players to unlock all or most of the content by putting in enough hours in the game. The primary gold currency used for upgrading your ships and powerups is earned perpetually during play and can also be purchased as IAP, which is how I feel the previously mentioned unlocks should have been addressed. As it stands, restricting a whole 2/3rds of the game to IAP just seems a bit extreme and is going to turn off a lot of gamers.

Asteroids GUNNER is somewhat of an awkward game to recommend. While the game itself is free and a decent portion of the gameplay is available to peruse, you’re going to have to spend some cash to unlock a majority of the content. Unfortunately, the lack of anything to differentiate itself from the rest of the dual-stick shooters means that there’s a good chance that you won’t bother with unlocking all the content. If you’re looking for a quick-fix in the dual stick shooter genre, check out Asteroids GUNNER. However, if you’re the sort of gamer that is a completionist, stay away from this new Asteroids, as the IAP barrier is just not worth it.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://twitter.com/mspacemedia Mark Müller

    Why not try Asteroid2012 instead then ;) Same concept - Space rocks, aliens, pickups, bombs( in next update ) but all in glorious 3D and with a retro styled mode too?? itunes.apple.com/us/app/asteroid-2012/id443832467

  • http://twitter.com/guildastrogator CJ

    If you use space bucks to unlock the two extra levels and two extra ships, you will not be able to restore those purchases if you ever need to reinstall the game. This strikes me as the most egregious scam.

    • Anonymous

      I'm not against IAP at all, but I agree with this part. As "controversial" as IAP is in the first place with so many, devs need to realize that while modular games are a good way to make pricing and features variable, if the modules themselves are not recoverable, you just wind up alienating everybody.

  • Anonymous

    This is of similar crud to Gun Bros.

  • Jayson Elliot

    The IAP lockout is bad enough, but it's not even implemented well. I spent $1.99 to get a few space bucks, and used them (I thought) to buy an Omega Tech upgrade. Turns out, I was only buying the opportunity to get the upgrade, and still had to gather 8,000 crystals to actually buy the upgrade.
    What's worse, the upgrade was only good for one game, and disappeared immediately afterwards. I won't be spending any more money, or probably playing this game again, for that matter.

    Worst of all, though, is just how much money Atari is willing to take from players of their game. The top IAP available costs $99.99. That's right, they will sell you one hundred U.S. dollars worth of "space bucks" at a time, if you're willing. That's some Zynga-level predatory behavior.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Q667RHDLS5QAB3LXSOGGZ7527Q Michael V

    It didn't take long to have the game crash. After hitting finishing the first 49 levels, on the 50th I went to do all the possible upgrade with the coins and after the 10,000 upgrade of the base firing the game would crash every time I tried to continue play. The whole game had to be uninstalled. Pretty poor quality check on this.

  • Anonymous

    The IAP elements throw this game out of whack completely. Simply the fact that they entice you to spend $20 at a time on "bucks" is ridiculous given the simplicity of the game (I know it's not the only game that does this, but it really irks me). 

    And the upgrade system is misleading; the game gives special "hints" to use your earned (non-IAP) gold to buy a special unlock for "advanced" systems on your ship, and as soon as you unlock it, it becomes clear that to actually get the upgrades for the slot you have to purchase them using real-world money. While the gameplay itself was decent enough (though quite shallow), I couldn't shake the feeling that every step of the way they were trying to scam me. For a quality, honest game I will pay plenty. For this game? Nothing.

  • http://twitter.com/mspacemedia Mark Müller

    Haha, then why not try a 3D space shooter with a similar prinicipal - saving planet earth from impending Asteroid collisions - made by myself called 'Asteroid 2012' only costs 0.99c and will never contain IAP - I am totally against the concept! http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/asteroid-2012/id443832467 and follow me on Twitter @mspacemedia for updates and news... That friends is called quality trolling :D

  • Anonymous

    Unlock over 200 achievements.  What kind of game does that? Narrow that down to 10 good ones.

  • Jim, Smith

    I also spent some time and after finally earning 5000 gold to unlock the advanced tech slot. I get like 20 new features to unlock via space bucks only. (real money) The worst part is that I cant get my 5000 back. If I knew the adv tech was a scam I could have spent my gold on other stuff to actually help my ship. But there is no way to know without wasting your efforts. This is a really poor business decision on part of the developers.

  • Anonymous

    Crashes now? What up?

Asteroids: Gunner Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3