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Astronut

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Released: 1984

Genre: Platformer

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Software Projects

Developer: Patrick Richmond

Submitted by: Lee Tatlock

With a dogged desire to play every low-fi platform game I can get my quivering little mitts on I now bring you a review of Astronut by Software Projects.

Now as far as plays on words go Astronut is nowhere near as hideous as some early game monikers, Pasteman Pat being one of the primary offenders of said hideousness – though not a completely awful game it has to be said, so does Astronut rise above it’s silly name and reach the upper echelons reserved for the likes of Manic Miner, JSW and, in my opinion, Odd Job Eddie? Well I can answer that question quite easily, no, no it’s not as good as any of the aforementioned legends, however that isn’t to say it ain’t worth playing and it may be unfair on my part to keep comparing these games to the above as they are supreme examples of simplicity and joy, especially when Astronut is somewhat of a departure from your typical toddle along and jump titles, and although the graphics drill the same vein the gameplay is the mutated, twin headed, offspring of the puzzle and platform genres.

You play an astronaut, funnily enough, who must traverse dangerous planets and lug resource cubes back to your powerless space freighter. Sounds simple right? Well not exactly, there is no jump button and you must utilise spouts of air to reach higher platforms where you must then push the blocks to a transporter at the bottom of the screen. You do have bombs to protect yourself but it’s still a real head scratcher at times as enemies and laser rush past your ears and you attempt to work out the safest route back to the transporter. Once you’ve got one block on the go another will appear until you have transported all the blocks back to the freighter. It’s a tall order and I have never completed it, or even come close, but you can see all the game has to offer by choosing your level at the title screen.

It’s a tough but rewarding game… sort of.