For those among you who eschew the intellectual, and prefer their text-based games to have a little more action, I can offer alienwave.
This marvelous little ditty is smooth, fast and clean, and were it not for the abrupt game ending, I’d be at a loss for something negative to say about it.
Commands are much like you might expect — left and right arrow keys steer your ship, with the added note that they are not fixed controls, and work more like a driving wheel than a one-key-one-step keypress.
In other words, hold down a horizontal control, and your ship will accelerate quite quickly across the screen. Reverse direction, and you’ll need to decelerate before your ship will take the new tack. Just be aware.
alienwave also adds the unique tactic of throwing up a shield in a fixed position, that will slowly devolve over a few seconds. If you’re used to games that project a shield that follows your ship (a la Galaga or Galaxian), this is a new way of doing things.
Animation for explosions and firing show a lot of color, and work very smoothly. Ships are likewise colorful, detailed and move terrifyingly fast. The game sticks to basic ASCII characters, meaning you can probably enjoy it at your virtual console too.
There’s a healthy variety of shape and color in every enemy, and it is worth noting that some ships will leave a trail of debris when they die, meaning it’s not enough to just kill them — you have to get out of the way.
alienwave will make the outrageous demand of an 80×25 terminal, which I am fairly confident 99 percent of the audience can accommodate. 😉 If you terminal is larger still, alienwave will center itself neatly in that space, and draw a nice green border around the playing field.
Like I said, the game ends rather abruptly, and you only get one life. So when you screw up and crumple into an ASCII fireball, the game smashes to black, and you get your final score report.
That, I think, is alienwave’s only imperfection — it really needs an attract mode to give you the chance to try again, without rerunning it. That would make it perfect.
Games like this, regardless of their age, are easy to single out as well made, well designed and good clean fun. In spite of its abrupt ending, I’m willing to hand out one of the few gold stars I have left for the year: ⭐ 😉 Enjoy, with my blessing. 😄