Format reviewed: Commodore 64
Publisher: The New Dimension
Developer: Achim Volkers
Submitted by: James Monkman
Released with practically no fan-fare or hype by The New Dimension earlier this year, Achim Volkers' Space Trip is a nostalgic blast from the past. Similar in both visual style and gameplay to Gremlin Graphics' Future Knight (1986), Space Trip is a multi-screen adventure in which you play the role of Captain Steve Zappa on an interstellar mission to eradicate alien invaders from captured space craft.
Part run 'n' gun shoot 'em up, part exploratory platformer, the game starts with you boarding a multi-screen starship (curiously unarmed) and your first priority is to locate and recharge the phaser gun that is hidden in one of the rooms. Following this, your goal is to kill all the aliens on board before teleporting out again via the ship's main computer console.
As the majority of new games for the C64 are simple arcade ports or casual flash remakes, Space Trip is a refreshing contribution to the scene and would have been more than worthy of a budget commercial release from one of the few remaining 8-Bit publishers (such as Psytronik or Cronosoft). Although the concept of starting the game unarmed seems a little bizarre (I would suggest that a more realistic method of using this mechanic would have been to to start armed, but have to retrieve the gun from the position you died when you lose a life), the exploratory nature of the game is something that hasn't been seen in a shoot 'em up since 2009's acclaimed Knight 'n' Grail. The interactive nature of the levels (medi-packs to collect, computers to use and elevators to travel from floor to floor) and the excellent boarding cut-scenes add a lot of depth; you really feel as though you are partaking in an adventure rather than a simple arcade game.
With excellent music (and help with the code) provided by Richard Bayliss, Space Trip is only slightly let down by comparatively dated in-game graphics and controls that aren't quite as responsive as they should be, but then this could be argued to be part of the nostalgic 1980's experience of the game. Regardless of this, Space Trip is still highly enjoyable to play and a really impressive fifth release from Achim.