Asteroids Gunner by Atari is a 21st century revisit of the infamous arcade game Asteroids, which can still be played on their official website. In Asteroids Gunner, you play through 3 sectors of 50 levels each in which you are a space ship that needs to clear and break up clusters of asteroids as you journey through space, with the occasional enemy space ship or alien swinging by so that you can earn bonus points and a super nova at the end of each level.

Controlling the game takes a step up from the original joystick, using a double control whereby the left pad turns the space ship 360 degrees while the right pad fires. Being more used to swiping and tapping with a single finger in iPhone games myself, this took me a little while to get used to, but was still quite effective for aiming.

While the original game was undoubtedly addictive, the 2011 iPhone app edition adds an extra dimension in that the asteroids leave behind crystals that you can collect and save up to buy weapon upgrades, different space ship models, single-use boosts and increase your weapon inventory.

The game is free in the Apple App Store, but if you get impatient and want stronger weapon upgrades with whizzy affects, you can spend actual money on “space bucks” that can be turned into thousands of crystals. This however is not essential if you’re feeling like Scrooge this Christmas, as some of the weapon upgrades can be collected during gameplay so with persistence you have every chance of completing the game.

What impressed me about Asteroids Gunner was the atmospheric space soundtrack, which is pleasant to listen to, unlike some iPhone games I have played. In addition, there are also 200 achievements you can collect throughout the game to display on Apple’s Game Center and OpenFeint. As it often takes me a while to get the hang of a game, it was heartening to see that I could earn awards as I improved even for well, playing pretty crappily, such as “Master-At-Arms”, which was awarded for completing a wave “with less than 30% accuracy” and “Light Speed” for completing a wave in 60 seconds, which I only achieved because I hightailed it through the asteroids and ran away!

I also appreciated that I could manage to pass a level, get better at the game and then go back to it, rather than being stuck right at the beginning for an eternity, which can sometimes turn me off a game.

Asteroids Gunner is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

OUR VERDICT

Asteroids Gunner is an exciting upgrade on one of the best-loved arcade games in gaming history. The original premise is given a facelift with elegant space graphics, an interesting soundtrack and responsive multitouch controls. Asteroids has come really far.