A Space Shooter for 2 Bucks! (exclamation point) is a fantastic game and is absolutely worth the $1.99 price tag. Not only is it a fresh spin on the top-down, shoot-em-up genre, the writing is amazingly witty and hilarious (and a bit profane at times).
The weakest part of A Space Shooter for 2 Bucks! (or ASSF2B! — eh… that doesn’t look right — how about SSF2B!, for short) is probably the horribly generic introductory storyline, complete with a shockingly bad, over-generalized nerd and bully stereotypes, but once you get past the opening story, the game’s writing literally skyrockets.
The player assumes the role of a cocky, self-absorbed bully hellbent on destroying any and all alien life. The game comes with some political undertones that, if released a few years ago, would have paralleled the perception of a certain bullying super-power.
If there was ever a game that incorporated the RPG aspects of leveling-up (especially XP-grinding) yet still retained the familiar trappings of a traditional schmup (aka “shoot-’em-up”), SSF2B! is that game.
For $2 there is not a whole lot of content to be had and what you will experience, as mentioned in the preceding sentence, is replaying the same levels over and over to gain money to level-up your ship. By increasing the power, defenses, and abilities of your ship, the handful of levels becomes easier and easier to master. Not only do the levels become easier, but the ability to play through the levels again and again to earn more money for ship upgrades becomes less of a chore as well.
When playing the first level, I was caught off guard by the game’s rather high difficulty. It was at that time that I noticed that it didn’t matter whether or not I completed the level successfully; the “gold” that I had accrued at the point of my death was saved. I then played through the level a few more times (again dying along the way, as I did before), until I was able to level up my ships weaponry a couple of times. At that point, I easily mastered the level, and continued to wrack up a stream of income to continue to upgrade my ship.
Not only can you upgrade your ship with the basic store menu choices, but those upgrades generally unlock an additional upgrade. Those who enjoy the level-grinding of games like Diablo and other popular XP-grinding RPG games, will probably enjoy SSF2B’s leveling up system. The game also has achievements to unlock. Yes, I said “achievements” and not “trophies”. Unfortunately, for those PlayStation “trophy whores” out there, A Space Shooter for 2 Bucks! does not offer trophies. Not having a lot of experience with playing any other PlayStation Minis games, I’m unsure if not including trophies is the standard (like Xbox Live Arcade’s Indie Games don’t include GamerScore or Achievements support) or if this was a design decision by the developers. My guess is actual trophy support is not included in PlayStation’s Minis titles by design.
Because this title is a PlayStation Minis game, it can be played on both the PlayStation 3 or the PlayStation Portable. Because it was designed more for the PSP, it looks best on that platform. That does not mean that it looks ugly on the PS3; in fact, it looks pretty nice on my HDTV. Even though the pixelation was a bit more noticeable on the big screen, it fit the retro-look of the game. Perhaps other PlayStation Minis look significantly worse when played on a PlayStation 3, but for this game it looked fine to me.
A Space Shooter for 2 Bucks! is an amazing game! Not only it the title true to its word with the cost of the $2 game (actually, it’s technically $1.99, so I think they’re losing 1-cent for every game sale they make — shhh! don’t tell them!), but it’s brilliantly written, the voice work is fantastic, it’s funny, it’s fun, and for $2 ($1.99!!) it’s VERY affordable. Frima Studio crammed more quality into this title for $2 than some bigger name studios have done in their $10-15. SSF2B! is playable on both the PlayStation 3 and the PSP. While it still looks nice on the PlayStation 3, it’s really meant to be played on the PlayStation Portable. There isn’t a lot of levels offered in this PlayStation Minis title, but there is a lot of incentive to go back and play through levels over and over again to unlock in-game achievements (not PSN Trophies, though!) and level up your ship.