Exploring Caves with Retrobooster

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Welcome Time Wasters!

This week I was given a review copy of Retrobooster to check out. If the name of the game sounds familiar, that’s because GiN took a look at the game back when it first released in March (Check that review out here). It has been a few months since then and the game is now available on Steam.

Retrobooster is a cave flyer that’s a throwback to the 1980s. The game has players exploring caves, shooting enemies and solving puzzles to get through levels. What sets the game apart from cave flyers of old? Its physics engine.

It’s like the Fourth of July all over again!

Retrobooster features a realistic physics engine that takes the cave flyer genre and mixes it up. This can make it really hard to get used to the game and the learning curve can be a little tough. However, once mastered, players can really start to enjoy the game.

The first few minutes of Retrobooster are spent adjusting to the physics engine. The player can control the ship with front rockets, rear rockets and side rockets. As one would expect, the front and rear rockets move the player backward and forward. The side rockets allow for turning. but it can be hard to get the hang of. Players can also fire several different weapons and use a shield to absorb hits.

Shields are the player’s best friends in Retrobooster. Blocking shots is handy, but the real advantage of them is absorbing blows when control of the ship has been lost. There isn’t anything in the game that makes the player lose control of the ship, but hectic situations can cause more than one crash into a cave wall.

Players have the option of using the keyboard and mouse, or a controller while playing Retrobooster. The game even supports up to four-player co-op and death matches. While this is a cool feature, it only works via split screen. To enjoy this without huddling around a computer screen that is likely being blocked off by the guy with the mouse and keyboard, players are going to need four controllers. This also means that the computer being played on will likely need four USB ports. To make the experience truly worthwhile, it’s best to hook the computer up to a TV. Luckily, I have most of the things needed for this available to me, but I wonder how easy this will be for other players? I feel like allowing online play would have been a much better option for this game.

There is no version of this where I walk away unharmed.

At its heart, Retrobooster is about shooting tons of aliens while dodging their shots. This makes the game similar to the bullet hell games of old. Unfortunately, the controls don’t make for a pleasant experience when it comes to this. Tight controls are a necessity in any bullet hell game, but the loose controls of Retrobooster don’t really fit the genre well.

The graphics in Retrobooster are alright. The game is in 2.5D, which means the game is played on a 2D field with 3D environments and objects. This works well for Retrobooster and while I do love throwbacks that use old school graphics, it was refreshing to see a game not trying to ride solely on nostalgia.

The music in Retrobooster is alright, but it isn’t anything amazing. Some of the tunes throughout the game are catchy, but they don’t stick out enough to be remembered, and that means a lot to me. Sound effects are in the same boat; good but no great.

Overall, Retrobooster is a great take on a classic genre that hasn’t gotten much attention lately. The physics engine in the game is a two-sided blade; sometimes it’s truly great to play with and it’s fun to try and master, but it also lacks the precision needed in a game filled with enemy fire. Retrobooster also has some nice graphics and breaks the mold of throwbacks by using modern visuals on an old genre. The music and sound effects in the game are alright, but nothing great.

Retrobooster flies its way to 3.5 GiN Gems out of 5!


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