Shippy 1984

Shippy 1984 is a arcade shoot em up game that is heavily inspired by early genre classics but modernizes their gameplay to some extend.

Nearly everybody played „Space Invaders“ or some more or less faithful remake. Shippy 1984 introduces some minor updates, but doesn’t change the well working basic formula: You move within a narrow room, trying to evade enemy projectiles while clearing the screen. Instead of the blocks that you could use as shield in the archetype, your ship has the ability to move on the Y-Axis. Some enemies spawn target-searching missiles, and the rate of fire feels higher and the movement faster compared to the older variants. Killed enemies spawn upgrades that improve your attack, and clearing the screen fast or with few shots will produce bonus points. The game has a swell working support for game controller devices and supports „couch coop“ for two players.

The implementation is very appealing: Controls feel tight, the UX is minimal but functional, the soundtrack is fitting, the SFX good. The difficulty curve is rather moderate but seems good; I had medium results at start, but after some training I was able to beat place 1 on the scoreboard, indicating that the game is balanced enough to allow for skill progression – I’m not sure how far this game can be played beyond this by really good players, though (but I think there is still quite some room left).

A big bonus for this game is the great humor: The player characters are sassy spacecraft-pilots who have some truly hilarious banter between the stages. Enemies and extras have some lovely drawn cut’em up-styled sprites. This is what makes a game that would be normally just a good, well executed exemplar of a common concept to something really special.

The creator of the game, Dulsi, is specializing in the refurbishment of abandoned Free/Libre/Open-Source Games. Shippy 1984 can be either bought or compiled (with some delay for new features) from source (the game is free software). The game is still in development and the developer seems to plan to introduce some interesting additional features in future; it is – however – already a fully working arcade title. It will be sure fun to see how it will further develope. Had no problem running the native version for Linux on my OpenSuse machine.

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