Remember Space Ace? The massive machine at the back of the greasy arcade you used to frequent? The one that played a cartoon that you had to react to? The one that cost twice as much as any other game? Of course you do. Well now it is back, and it’s just as bad as it was back then.
Space Ace (like its older brother, Dragon’s Lair) was/is on the very edge of the graphics/gameplay scale. The graphics were amazing, consisting of several minutes of action packed hand-drawn animation. But all it was really doing was playing video clips straight from a laser disk which meant that interaction was limited. Every few seconds something on the screen would flash, which was your cue to move the joystick in that direction. React too late and the hero would die in some amusing way. There was nothing quite like it.
Space Ace has just appeared in the iTunes store, and I felt oddly compelled to shell out the $6.50 asking price and suffer through the 280Mb(!) download. The animation is just as I remember it, unfortunately so is the gameplay. It is basically Guitar Hero, but “controlling” the beats of action on screen rather than beats in a musical score. This is not in itself a terrible idea, but there is only so much video you can fit on a laser disk circa 1982 so the plot is very short and once you have learnt the patterns the game is very easy. The onscreen joystick works OK, but is quite picky so you have to be exact with your fingers.
Despite these limitations, Space Ace is in its heart an imaginative and silly game. I find myself enjoying revisiting it even though I will probably finish it in the next few days.
View Space Ace attract sequence on Youtube.