Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Sep 262016

affordable-space-adventuresIf you have a Wii U, enjoy puzzle games, and haven’t played Affordable Space Adventures yet, you’re missing out.

Affordable Space Adventures was part of the last Nintendo Humble Bundle, and I’m glad I picked it up.

The game begins with an advertisement from UExplore encouraging you to take an affordable trip into space to explore the 100% safe planet known as Spectaculon. It then cuts to the first level, where you’re stranded on Spectaculon in a damaged spacecraft.

This sort of dark humor is present throughout the game. It’s often subtle, just the contrast between UExplore’s cheerful promotion of its safe space adventures while you desperately search for a way to contact them and request evacuation.

It is a 2D puzzle game, and one of the best things about it is how well it integrates the Wii U GamePad.

While the TV screen displays the world and your ship, the GamePad screen is essentially your ship’s dashboard. It displays all the systems you control: engines, landing gear, the scanner, etc.

New systems open up as your ship repairs itself, introduced at a gradual enough pace so that you never feel overwhelmed. You’ll need to carefully manage them to solve puzzles and proceed through each environment…

…and keep from being blown to bits by deadly robots.

Yeah, Spectaculon isn’t nearly as safe as UExplore thinks, and since they’d never outfit your ship with defensive measures for such a peaceful journey, you can’t let the alien “artifacts” detect you.

First you need to scan them to see their detection radius and what alerts them , and then you adjust your systems accordingly. For example, if a robot in your path detects heat, switch to your electric engine. Your sound, heat, and electricity outputs are displayed on the GamePad, and while it starts out simple, it becomes truly challenging by the end.

You can also play with friends in local co-op, where each of you has control of different systems and you must work together to survive. Many players describe it as feeling like you’re on the bridge of a Star Trek ship.

Affordable Space Adventures has a nice degree of difficulty, challenging enough to make you think without being unfair. In later levels, puzzle-solving can get pretty tense, but you’ll always feel a rush of relief and satisfaction when you finally get through.

Click for Affordable Space Adventures spoiler
I also have to praise how its gameplay design circles back on itself. Near the end of the game, your ship is damaged. One by one, systems fall offline until you’re left with only the few you started the game with.

The game never breaks the fourth wall, either. Messages on your GamePad explain new systems, but always in the context of teaching the pilot more about the ship. Puzzles are left for you to figure out on your own. Overall, the GamePad behaves like the ship’s console would, with nice little touches that increase the immersion.

Whether you play alone or with friends, Affordable Space Adventures is a challenging and immersive puzzle game that I highly recommend to anyone with a Wii U.

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