Genre:   Sci-fi comedic adventure               

Developer & Publisher:   Hungry Planet Games             

Released:  March 2016              

Requirements (minimum):

    • OS: Windows ME or higher
    • Processor: Pentium 700Mhz or higher
    • Memory: 64 MB RAM
    • Graphics: 640x400, 32-bit colour
    • DirectX: Version 7.0
    • Storage: 180 MB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX-compatible sound card



By flotsam


Astroloco: Worst Contact

Hungry Planet Games

This game is a short, reasonably straightforward hoot, provided your hooting runs to silly, pixelly B-Grade sci-fi.

Which mine can, and did.

You start by playing Ronald, maintenance engineer on Gilbert Station, a floating space station servicing the moon-sized Astro Locomotives responsible for galactic transportation in 2153. When the CEO calls, it sets in motion a "train" of events involving planet busting, alien invasion, pirates and clowns. You also get to play Arianne, a gung-ho engine driver happy to engage in a bit of cannon firing and broadsiding, and eventual partner in events. You can flip between them at will, each playing their own converging plot thread, or you can finish with one and move onto the other.

Astroloco plays in the third person, in a windowed game screen by default, but which you can set up to play full screen. Visually it uses pixelly throwback characters against colourful cartoon style backgrounds. There is an exaggerated head bobbing when a character speaks that reminded me a little of Terrence and Phillip, and added another layer of chortle. They are visually distinctive, despite being piles of pixels, and imbued with sufficient personality to be more than said pile.

It’s helped by some rather good voice acting, and some silly ones thrown in for effect. The sound effects and music accompaniments fit right in.

The game pokes fun at lots of things, including itself and the genre, with a sarcastic narrator and socio-political commentary par excellence. You can in fact turn it up at the options menu (the socio-political commentary that is), although I can’t tell you how much difference it makes. I can tell you that I will be ramping it up next time I play, and that it strikes some palpable hits, being both pointed and clever. And above all witty – you can’t poke fun and make points nearly as well if you aren’t being witty. I thought the script was a high point.

Somewhat confusingly, only because I kept clicking the wrong one, the right mouse button is used to interact with the world and the left mouse button does the looking. I expect that was deliberate, in keeping with the vibe of the thing.

You find items in order to complete tasks, but there is no inventory. Having an item is enough for it to be used in the right place. Each character has a suitable utility belt which pops up when you move the cursor to the bottom of the screen. Ronald’s contains his tools, Arianne’s, a blaster. Blasting can come in handy, but so can hitting things with a hammer.

There are achievements to garner in the Steam version, and they too gave me a chuckle. You can also find five secret trains in Ronald’s world, and shoot five hidden targets in Arianne’s. I got three of each.

I confess to going in with almost no expectations, and had a mighty fine time. Astroloco is easily worth the price of admission.

I played on:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz

RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz

Video card: AMD Radeon HD 7800 2048MB


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March 2016

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