Space Ace comes out of retirement for old school gamers

Posted: May 28, 2009 in Adventure, Arcade

Space Ace brings back the memories of when video games were evolving from simple creations into something more. By today’s standards, Space Ace is definitely old school and ancient in the gameplay department. But, Space Ace along with Dragon’s Lair showed the vision and ambition for video games. Having played it when I just a little gamer, this iTunes version is the exact duplicate of the original sans controls.

Space Ace is a game about reaction time, and tapping when an arrow or button turns yellow elicits a progressive storyline with some alternative scenarios thrown in. As it was originally, the game is a series of cut cartoon screens that appear based on success or failure.

The storyline follows the adventures of Ace who has been transformed into a younger and less powerful version of himself, Dexter. The story opens with Ace’s girlfriend getting kidnapped by Commander Borf (think Dom DeLuise except in blue skin tone). Commander Dorf’s ultimate goal is to conquer Earth, and of course, Ace is the only hope for preventing that.

Here are the chapters which are not selectable:
Kim Is Kidnapped
The Black Spheres
Dodging the Beams
The Platforms
The Dogs and the Robots
The Junk Planet
The Dog Fight
The Yellow Planet
The Dark Side
The Motorcycle Chase
The Roller Skates
The Giant Eels
The Final Confrontation

In the iTunes version, the Menu includes Attract which is essentially a trailer and overview story of Space Ace, as well as Play Game and Options. Under Options, you can change the size of the d-pad controls between large and small and turn on/off beep sounds for selections made with the d-pad.

The game offers three levels of difficulty: Cadet (easy), Captain (medium) and Ace (hard). From what I remember of this game, the easy and medium levels both use limited cut scenes, while the difficult one has additional scenes.

Playing through this, I don’t have any issues with the controls at all. In fact, based on the game’s format, using a joystick control wouldn’t be viable, and the only other option is to make the entire screen touch controlled. The animation is smooth and the cartoon sequences are as I remember them.

Innovative at the time it was introduced more than 25 years ago was the multiple scenarios where based on your selection, the outcome would change. For example, when Dexter has the opportunity to transform into Ace, the “Energize” splash screen appears, and the corresponding button in the lower left corner turns yellow. If you select it, Dexter turns into Ace and the story proceeds along that storyline and vice versa. Another way to think of it is that Dexter makes avoidance/defensive decisions, while Ace tends to be more proactive/offensive.

Should you buy this game? That depends. As an old school gamer, this is a no brainer for me, and while you tend to focus on the yellow arrows/buttons in some cases more so than on the cartoon scenes, the game is fun for me. If Space Ace is new to you, then it probably won’t offer you the stimulation or degree of gameplay that would keep your interest for very long.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for old school gamers or those looking for retro titles from yesteryear)

Check out my impressions at TouchArcade


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