Gunner Galaxies is Asteroids with about a million upgrade options
It’s hard to believe that more than three decades later, it’s still possible for a developer to breath new life into the Asteroids formula. But that’s just what Gunner Galaxies does. With a huge array of power-ups and upgrades and numerous tweaks to the well-worn rulebook, it offers up a fast and addictive arcade experience that fits quite well on iOS. It’s also one of the rare freemium games that not only doesn’t require you to spend any actual money, but doesn’t even pester you for it at all.
For those somehow unfamiliar with the Asteroids formula, it works like this: you control a tiny ship surrounded by the titular floating rocks and it’s your job to destroy them before they smash into you. And Gunner Galaxies is largely the same. Only instead of piloting a tiny ship, you’re controlling the gun turret on a fairly large ship, though the asteroids only damage the turret for some reason. What this means is you’ll be constantly stuck in the middle of the screen, with your only options being to rotate your gun and fire away.
The ultimate goal is to simply survive, but you’ll also be collecting currency, unlocking new content, and racking up high scores. Gunner Galaxies is divided up into four worlds, each of which has several missions, which themselves are broken down into a series of waves. Each mission has six stars, and collecting those stars will allow you to access additional missions and worlds. The cash, meanwhile, can be used to upgrade your ship in various ways. And there are a lot of upgrade options in Gunner Galaxies.
There are power-ups, both offensive and defensive, which can do everything from improve your rate of fire to increase the strength of your shield. The trick is that these are temporary and only last a short while. You’ll be able to collect power-ups as you play, but also purchase one’s to keep in reserve just in case. You can also increase your ship’s health, speed up the rate that you earn money, and so much more. The sheer range of options is pretty huge, and it adds an extra-addictive quality as you attempt to trick out your ship.
The game’s four worlds each provide a different visual style but, more importantly, also switch up the rules a little bit. For example, in the second world, called Bouncy Castle, asteroids will continuously bounce around the screen until destroyed, as opposed to flying off the edge of the screen. These kinds of tweaks make the game more challenging, and force you to use different tactics to survive.
But in spite of this, the main issue with Gunner Galaxies is that it can get quite repetitive. Though the core gameplay is solid, you’re essentially doing the exact same thing the entire game, with only minor changes. It should also be noted that the user interface can feel quite cluttered at times, and the large, obtrusive pop-ups that indicate when you earn an achievement are not only annoying but interfere with the gameplay.
Minor quibbles aside, Gunner Galaxies is still a solid shooter and an addictive spin on the Asteroids forumla. It can get repetitive in large doses, but for pick-and-play action it’s just about perfect. It’s a wonder the game is free.