The Xbox indie game service is one fraught with problems. There is a lot of content here but less than 0.5% of it is even worthwhile. So for every Groov you have 10-30 “games” that turn your controller into a massage aide that allows for a person or two to engage in an exercise of pointlessness. Most worryingly, it sells by the bucketload so the few that can actually find the service must be huge massage aficionados. Sadly, BlastaRock isn’t anything new to the service as it simply attempts to capture the feel of Asteroids but fails utterly.
This theme of looking at other, older games and attempting to “recapture” that essence is a noble endeavour on the surface but, especially in BlastaRock’s case, they often miss the point entirely leaving a messy, incredibly amateurish game. Part of this is definitely the fault of the XNA toolset. It creates a very samey atmosphere that envelopes the entire indie game marketplace, cookie cutter games that fill the marketplace and force the few, inventive titles into complete obscurity.
Now, there is very little to discuss in regards to BlastaRock. The fact your ship is completely devoid of any personality, the fact the background is a static, generic “nebula” and the fact that the music is absurdly mind numbing would all be stomachable if the core gameplay wasn’t so completely basic. Incremental power-ups are introduced slowly and, at the most basic level, add something extra to the gameplay. Sadly, the dodging of various asteroids and the destruction of them is never exciting, meaningful or anything beyond vapid. We’re led to believe the developers haven’t quite grasped what makes a videogame worth playing, instead relying on a half-baked imitation of games that have gone before. This may seem harsh. Sure, it is. It comes from a loving place, though, a place where I want indie games to push interesting ideas due to freedom from publishers. It’s an upsetting state of affair when an indie gaming service is stagnating.
The fact I suggest you avoid this game is most likely something you’d have already guessed. It’s simply a throwaway experience that is completely devoid of interest. It works, it’s technically competent and it’s playable. However, the sheer amount of discussion about the game should inform you about how little there is to see here. Do yourself a favour and avoid BlastaRock. You would’ve anyway.
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