GameTech: Spaceport Hope just what the docker ordered

After its public demo, the jury is still out on EA’s Anthem.

In space, no one can hear you (on) Steam. That opening line isn’t worth a euro, but then again neither is Spaceport Hope, our featured budget game this week. Spaceport Hope will only set you back 10 space credits, or a mere 90 cents on Steam, writes Ronan Jennings.

There may not be much hope of Team Bitclub making a profit on their creation, but at least this spaceport will earn them lots of credit from gamers. If you enjoy platform shooters like Megaman and indie classics like Cave Story, then Spaceport Hope should be right up your galaxy.

There’s a surprising amount of atmosphere and identity packed into this little gem, with the simple pixel graphics complemented by a truly brilliant soundtrack. There are 13 planets to explore, many of which can be visited at your own discretion and offering bonus weapons, bosses and power-ups. Meanwhile, the main story tries to rise above the standard template by creating a somewhat gritty world of miners and politics, although this is conveyed only through brief dialogue and the variety of locations you reach.

The core gameplay is a little floaty, but that soon becomes part of the charm. The player can double-jump and shoot in the eight diagonal directions, but that’s about the extent of it. Shooting enemies delivers a satisfying expulsion of numbers, indicating the damage being done, while the weapons themselves range from a standard rifle with infinite ammo to upgrades like a flamethrower, plasma rifle and rocket launchers.

The biggest criticism of the controls, by some distance is that button presses are reset when you enter a new screen, meaning holding left or right to keep moving, for example, doesn’t work. You need to press the direction once again to get moving on a new screen.

In addition, the bosses are a little too easy for their own good, especially with the right weapons. Their patterns are usually simple and quite often you’ll have them beaten at the first attempt.

Still, for a game that costs less than a bottle of water (at least here on Earth – prices may vary on Mars), you can hardly complain to the Galactic Council for that. If you’re looking for a simple, but satisfying shooter with a fun personality, Spaceport Hope is just what the docker ordered.

Anthem demo

Meanwhile, EA have pinned their hopes on Anthem, a different kind of shooter in space. Many of you may have already played Anthem’s public demo last weekend, but the jury remains out on the game until its full release on February 22.

What we can say is that Anthem’s mixture of Iron Man-style mech suits and Destiny’s online co-op shooter gameplay is definitely intriguing, managing to carve out a unique niche that lies somewhere between Warframe, Gears of War and a more traditional online game, with an emphasis on specials. 

The impact of the weaponry has been called ‘hollow’ and lacking weight and we would have to agree with that –but the demo only showed a portion of the available arsenal, so that may change as we upgrade.

Bioware are famous for developing fascinating worlds and it’s hard to tell from the demo if they have succeeded again here. However, your home of Fort Tarsis, the Javelins mech suits and the freelancers themselves are all a great base for a fun universe.

Much will hinge of how EA monetize the game in the coming months. If they implement excessive microtransactions, the game will soon sink without a hope.

Steam ahead for now

Lastly, gamers have been getting their hopes up that Steam will finally have a rival in the PC gaming marketplace. Epic are launching their own store, which they hope will break Valve’s long-standing monopoly.

Drawing first blood, Epic managed to convince 4A games that their upcoming apocalyptic shooter Metro Exodus should be exclusive on the Epic Games Store for 12 months, despite the game featuring pre-orders on Steam. We have yet to see how Valve will respond, but they did just launch a Lunar New Year sale with the unprecedented discount option of five euro off any game over €30. Whatever happens between Valve and Epic, we can only hope for more results like that.

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