Affordable Space Adventures (Wii U) Review

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I’d like to start with a brutal confession, a search party was required to locate the various components of my terminal Mario machine. A serious amount of time has elapsed since the release of Mario Kart 8 and this dust covered tablet and console had to be brought back to life.
So I guess the big question is what brought this mission on? The answer, is Affordable Space Adventures.

This ‘Ronseal’ titled release from KnapNok Games & Nifflas is a 2D space puzzle game released solely for the Wii U, and right from the off it’s obvious to see why.

All of the controls are handled by the tablet in one player mode and it is also possible to have 2 extra pilots join you using Wii motes, who then control certain actions of the ship which make you feel part of a working crew, as long as you can communicate and keep calm. The left and right sticks handle flying and your torchlight and the left and right shoulder buttons cover the ships scanner and flares. By the time you are done the whole gamepad will be assigned to mechanics integral to your advancement.

WelcomeToTheJungle02You start with an infomercial from a company called UExplore, who are offering you a once in a life time opportunity to explore and stake your claim in alien worlds, promising you the highest level of safety with 0% risk, how could this be turned down?

You land on planet Spectaculon and it’s safe to say UExplore’s safety record has taken a knock, communication has been lost and you find yourself alone on an alien land in hostile weather conditions in your rented craft which looks like a budget version of ‘Starbug’ from Red Dwarf.

This is where ASA makes probably the best use of the Wii U gamepad that I have experienced, your TV shows your spacecraft and the planet and the gamepad initially goes through the process of powering up the Small Crafts systems, propulsion engine, lights and thrust.

With the chugging petrol engine now on it’s possible to increase the crafts speed output, mass and stability, tapping the gamepad dials at different levels, but be careful not to raise them for too long or you could overload your delicate craft and disintegrate spectacularly in a small amount of time, and this management of systems is where the puzzle element begins.

Overgrowth02Now it wouldn’t be an alien land without aliens’ right? And I’m sure they’ll be cool with a foreign life-form idly cruising around their planet? No, they’re not…

After you grasp the basic action of movement and delicately controlling your vessel your ships scanners pick up the first sign of life, targeting displays a radius around the robotic looking alien which you assume is range as your Wii pad flashes and beeps showing limits on sound, heat and electricity.

After offering peace through a friendly handshake initially fails, it’s clear that a stealthy approach past this alien is the only way and will require careful management of the ships systems, being careful not to reach any of these levels as alerting the alien will end in aggressive action being taken, and as you’re equipped with flares as opposed to photon torpedo’s you won’t put up much of a fight, which is refreshing to have a space game where defence is the only form of offense.

As you progress more ship systems will open up and will be utilised along with the previous mechanics and all at a decent pace and relevant to your exploration through the linear levels, with the escalation of challenge increases at a good rate and there is no spike in difficulty as each puzzle encompasses what you’ve already learnt and it’s a case of multitasking with the dials and sliders and getting the balance right, and as with everything on ASA the balance is perfect.

The story as such is told through the loading screens between levels and is both charming and humorous, and in between the story the ships user manual is displayed, albeit not a great story it’s enough to keep you immersed in the experience before you fire up the engines to scope out your new surroundings. Graphically the game is both dark and very vivid and bright and works well with your torchlight beaming for you to feel your way around certain sections but ultimately this doesn’t have the wow factor of some Wii U titles. The sounds are clear and add atmosphere from the outside weather effects to the underwater acoustics and the system beeps and bops from the pad.

TheFly02In all there are 38 levels for you to navigate in search of freedom, and it should roughly take between 5 – 7 hours to complete, there is also a training level if you find it too difficult and this also helps to get the kids involved. Priced at £16.99 I feel this is excellent as you will get plenty of bang for your buck. It’s an experience that every Wii U owner should have, a title that makes full use of the game pad, and is good fun in local co-op. My only concern would be the reasons to replay, the only one that comes to mind would be to show non Wii U owners what they’re missing.

Pros:

Excellent use of the Wii U gamepad
Immersive gameplay
Fun Co-op multiplayer

Cons:

Limited scope for replay-ability.
Graphics are pretty but not ground-breaking

Score: 9 out of 10.