|a game by||Small Rockets|
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Take one ship (or three if you're going to be pedantic), add power-ups, waves of alien ships (50 different types), swirling things and bosses, a vertical scroll and a decent soundtrack and you've got all the ingredients for Star Monkey. Or any other half-decent vertical shooter for that matter. Where Star Monkey excels is in providing the key qualities in spades. Weapons and power-ups are balanced, so that if you lose a life you don't necessarily lose your other two in quick succession. And cleverly, while you're topping up with extras you need to keep taking regular doses of speed (the first power-up selection) or risk moving slower than enemy bullets. The fully rendered 3D graphics, although rather overbearing to start off with are highly atmospheric and involving, and rarely a second goes by without lightning fizzing, or spinny things whirling past you.
Star Monkey also provides the one vital ingredient of twitch gaming - the feeling that you're in an impossible situation when you somehow enter 'the zone' and perform impossible acrobatics to extract yourself. What's more, the developers have realised that key to the philosophy of arcade games like this is the high score, so you can log onto the Internet and compare and contrast scores from others, which only spurs you on to having 'one more go'.
So, just another retro release then. But, while some people think that vertical shooters and the like have had their day, others ignore their rantings, download these games on the cheap and have a whale of a time for 15 minutes each and every day. So, Star Monkey isn't groundbreaking and it isn't pushing the PC forward as an entertainment platform. So what? Games like this rely on pure reactions and hand-to-eye co-ordination, and whether you like it or not, these are qualities that are never going to go out of fashion.