When an app decides to offer its services for free rather than commanding even the smallest price tag, you can assume it's for one of three reasons. Either it's very basic, full of advertisements or a cynical play for microtransactions. AstroCrush is a mix of the first two options - but you might actually be surprised with what it has to offer.
AstroCrush is as generic as you could ask for from a shoot 'em up. Players control a constantly-firing spaceship as it scrolls upscreen; dodging through asteroids, collecting a small selection of powerups and occasionally facing off against a boss or two. It's basic stuff, but handled fairly well.
Enemy waves are randomly generated, meaning that the action is different (if repetitive) each time around. Not that you'll notice, since there's only a tiny variety of enemy types. You'll be seeing a lot of identical asteroids and screw-threaded enemies after a few runs, but for a free app that's only designed for wasting time on the tube, it's actually quite impressive.
The controls sign up to the tried-and-tested 1:1 drag mechanics, meaning that tapping and dragging your finger across the screen directly controls the movement of your spaceship. Speaking as a shooter connoisseur, however, it gets a few of the fundamentals completely wrong.
The ship is simply too big for the small play area, with the entire sprite acting as the hitbox (i.e. the bit of the sprite that takes damage when it connects with an enemy) rather than just the central body. Coupled with a slow firing speed, the gameplay becomes much more frustrating than it ought to be.
Graphically, AstroCrush is fairly reasonable. As far as it goes. The tiny number of sprites allows each one to be extremely detailed along with an attractive - if static - background. The backing music is a fun and forgettable piece of synth rock, though again, it's a free app.
Finally, yes, there are some advertising banners... but in a refreshing twist, they aren't actually visible during gameplay. They just display at the top of the main menu, meaning that your view of the action isn't obstructed by aggravating Groupon promotions.
- It's free
- Capable gameplay
- No in-game ads
Summary: AstroCrush is generic, fun in short bursts... and free. So it's probably worth a download.
Developer: LuckyLoot Studios
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 4.1 or later.
Price: Free - App Store