Super Blast 'o' Naut is a game for people looking to waste time... Don´t get me wrong, it´s not a waste of time playing this game, definitely not! But you may find yourself playing it a bit more often than you should due to its "easy to pick-up, hard to master" style of gameplay, which mixes a small dose each of rpg, puzzle and strategy elements and a large dose of fast-paced arcade action!
So what´s it all about? Well, you´ve got a ship and you have to blast things... And... Well, that´s it really! But it´s the way that you blast things that makes this game interesting as it uses a mix of Bomberman-style explosions and traditional SHMUP bullets to let you carve a path through the asteroids and enemies that come at you. The system is very easy to use as the keyboard (WASD) moves your ship and the mouse directs fire from your guns which are fired with the left mouse button, while you may also use the right mouse button to place mines. These mines are the key to success in the game, as they can only be placed on top of the asteroids that come at you, and when they explode it´s in true Bomberman style, with a blast radius that covers a few squares up, down, left and right, destroying all the asteroids of the same colour that they touch. At first this seems a bit lame, but it does force you to actually think about where you are going to place them, especially at the start as you are only able to place two on the screen at a time, and if they are mis-placed you can end up trapped in a dead end and so lose one of those precious three lives! These explosions are also a good way to destroy any enemy craft that are around while you keep your ship behind the cover of an asteroid, and they are also the only way to open "chests" and get the power-ups that they contain...
The levels are generally quite short, and at the end of each there are four "gates" where you can level up the four stats of your ship (up to a maximum level of five). These stats are for firepower (the blast radius of the mines), the maximum number of mines on screen at any one time, the speed that the ship´s blasters shoot and the power of those same blasters. It should be noted that the game´s creator, Jameson Wilkins, has done an excellent job in balancing these attributes, and maxing out one without raising the others offers little or no benefit. It´s much better to raise them all a bit at a time (or at least focus on two to start with) or you will find that the game is just too difficult.
Graphically the game is bold and colourful, with big, eye catching sprites that are nicely drawn. The pick-up icons are clear and obvious, and the explosions, though simple, are great too. As you play, you do sometimes wish for a bit more variety, but as this game is more a "quick fix" and then back to work or whatever, that´s not really a problem. The same can be said of the sound... The background music is nice, unobtrusive and doesn´t get annoying and the sound effects are also adequate and fit in with the feel of the game. The only thing lacking is music on the title screen, but that´s a very minor complaint, as is the lack of a decent high score panel (he uses GM´s built in one)!
To the casual gamer this game may not seem like much to shout about, and on the surface it´s nothing special... but under the skin of this unassuming title lies a challenging little game that once you actually get used to its mechanics and start to think about how you´re going to play, it becomes a really good, fun way to while away those minutes! It can be frustrating at times due to the procedurally generated levels, but that´s part of the challenge and only adds to that feeling of "just one more game" as you try to beat your previous high scores... which I´m off to do right now!