In the age of digital downloads, gamers who are fans of the classics are now beginning to see many of their favorites reappear on their consoles. With an attempt to stay relevant, SNK Playmore has released a flurry of NEO GEO games onto the PlayStation Network and the Xbox Live Arcade. Downloaded from PSN, I sat down to give The Next Space a whirl. After the jump see whether or not this vertical scrolling shooter survived the test of time.
The Next Space has players pilot a spaceship while you collect various speed and weapon items to take down a multitude of enemies, and restore peace to the galaxy. Released by SNK in 1989, this 8-bit button smashing game is exactly that, a button smashing game.
The first thing I noticed was that there is no ability to hold down shoot, which became very tiring. There are two basic buttons, shoot and special. This is a true arcade game to its core. But why release these classics as they were, why not restore them and perhaps improve upon them for an updated time?
At a certain points within the game, necessary skill flew out the window because The Next Space made it so impossible to evade any sort of enemy attack that death becomes an expected occurence. The worst part about dying in The Next Space is you respawn without any upgrades – everything obtained is lost within one hit. There are no shield upgrades, you’re one and done.
When you blast through your three lives, you are given an unlimited amount of continues. This makes any sort of attempt to value life void. Given the fact that you can just respawn where you left off after a continue means there is no point in giving it your best effort. Die and die again because eventually you’ll just button smash to the end.
If SNK were to give you three continues and then made you start over at the very beginning, I could see that becoming a good challenge. You would have something to fight for. The degree of difficulty as you go through the game is prevalent, but as stated before, there are areas where The Next Space is so ridiculous that it loses its fun because all you do is die and are unable to obtain quick upgrades.
As creative as they are, even special weapon upgrades become pointless. Players are only able to obtain one at a time, and if you accidentally touch a different one you have to commit to it. Recalling them at the beginning is quite a drag because there are about ten you have to remember based on the alphabet.
There are definitely better special weapons than others. It would have been more exciting to be able to combine specials depending on which ones you choose. Achieving weapons upgrades are great, but you lose everything with every death.
The worst part about dying is not just losing your special, but losing the speed upgrades. Once your ship loses the ability to quickly evade attacks, it is almost impossible to pick back up after respawning because you’ll die in a matter of seconds.
Enemies in The Next Space are fairly easy, but the screen fills up fast giving players hardly any room to maneuver – which reiterates the my point that this game makes it impossible to push forward without dying. Boss battles are OK, there are about five levels you run through and each boss has an added degree of difficulty. When you’re in a boss battle, special weapon and speed upgrades are vital because you hardly run across any.
I’m not one for these vertical scrolling games to be pushovers, but this game is near impossible to defeat with out a grand handful of deaths. The music is nostalgic, but becomes very annoying after awhile. Being taken down a peg if you own multiple upgrades instead of losing every upgrade would have made the game more enjoyable. Revive classic games if you must, but The Next Spaceis a classic dud.