BIT BLASTER XL
Developed and Published by Nickervision Studios
Available on Steam for PC, Steam OS, Mac and Linux
Not all videogames have to be AAA titles with cinematic, interactive cutscenes and levelling systems. Sometimes keeping it simple can create a fun experience for the gamer. Such a title is arcade game Bit Blaster XL.
In Bit Blaster XL, you control a rocket that must fly around space shooting at enemies. These enemies vary in size with the bigger enemies often shattering into smaller pieces. This debris can take out your rocket if you’re not careful so it’s important to either avoid or destroy the floating debris to keep your rocket intact. Unlike Space Invaders, the rocket which you control auto fires so all you have to do is manoevre your rocket around the screen without smashing into any of the enemies. However, you don’t have infinite ammo which means you must constantly collect extra ammo which are represented by green circles with white crosses on them. These are dotted around the screen regardless but they’re also a by-product of destroying enemies: win-win! Other powers up float around the level too now and then and these can have an interesting effect on your rocket’s gun. The aim is to keep your rocket intact long enough to accumulate points and beat your own high score. Easier said than done!
When first playing the game, your rocket will have a shield. This will allow you one touch with an enemy without destroying your ship. Once the shield is gone though, you must be careful not to hit your ship again otherwise it’s game over, sunshine! At first I found it easy to keep the shield for longer but then the more I tried and thought about it, the more I’d loose it sooner.
By accumulating coins from playing the game, you can buy better rockets that are more nimble and fire quicker/different patterns which allows you to mix up the gameplay somewhat. As you continue playing though, you’ll find the difficulty increase with more enemies on the screen and ones that will actively fire at you which you will have to dodge their shots and destroy.
In a lot of ways, Bit Blaster XL reminds me of the mobile game Snake that used to feature on a lot of Nokia phones. Just like that game, you cannot let your rocket touch the edges of the screen otherwise it’s game over. The simple, pick up and play arcade game style means it’s addictive to replay and attempt to beat your high score. There’s no need to memorise controls, just a simple move of the joystick on the Xbox 360 Controller for Windows is all you need to guide your rocket in your desired direction. The computer does the rest.
It might not be complex gameplay but it sure is fun just to blow off some steam for a quick 5 minutes or so. Sometimes we need games like this to break up the day and to give us a moment to chill and have fun. Bit Blaster XL certainly ticks those boxes.