Don Bluth’s Classic Arcade Game ‘Space Ace’ Arrives for iPhone

133588jpgDon Bluth’s classic arcade game Space Ace has just landed in the App Store for a price of $4.99 [link]. The launch is sure to excite fans of the original arcade game which was released back in 1984.

Space Ace was the follow up title to the popular Dragon’s Lair laserdisc game which shared the same style of gameplay.

Like Dragon’s Lair, the gameplay of Space Ace requires the player to move the joystick in the right direction or press the fire button at the right moment in order to avoid the various hazards Ace/Dexter faces.

The game offered film-quality animation played off the laser disc with the player reacting and timing joystick movements based on the action. Space Ace also introduced some branching possibilities to the game.


The game seems accurate to the arcade version but uses on-screen arrow buttons to replace the joystick. Davidovich, a long time Space Ace fan, was disappointed with the control implementation, though found the game to be an otherwise faithful port.

First, I stole more quarters from my father to play and master this game when I was a kid than I can remember. So, I’m obviously a bit biased.

It looks and plays exactly like the original version in every way except one – The controls. They messed it all up. There is an onscreen controller, which can be positioned either on the left or the right bottom of the screen. You can change this setup to have the arrows on the top, bottom, left, or right, basically spread apart.

Both methods have their downfalls. If you choose to have the mini, on-screen controller positioned on the bottom right or left, your fingers cover a lot of the action on the screen. If you choose setup #2 [ed note: pictured above], you can see the entire screen but now you have to be precise about tapping those arrows, which causes you to look at the arrows and not the action on the screen, and with this type of game, it’s all based on timing, so, it becomes difficult to enjoy the game because you’re always thinking about where your thumbs are.

I’d definitely recommend holding off on purchasing this until they change the controls to accommodate being able to just touch any area of any side of the screen to create an action. I hope that makes sense.

As far as the actual game goes – it’s Space Ace. Anyone who has played Dragon’s Lair should get a kick out of it. It’s a simple, tap left, right, up or down, at the moment the screen and controller flash yellow. This progresses the storyline. If you are unsuccessful in doing so, the game shows a cut scene of death and you lose a life. Simple and basic – Oh the eighties!

Meanwhile, Big Albie had a better experience with the controls. The game comes with 3 modes of difficulty: Cadet, Captain and Ace. Cadet offers the additional help of flashing the button you need to press while in the other modes you must rely on the environmental clues. This video shows a brief amount of gameplay from the first couple of scenes in both Cadet and Captain modes:

[ Full HD version | Low Bandwidth version ]

App Store Link: Space Ace, $4.99