Long before real-time 3-D graphics became the norm, the best arcade graphics featured prerendered animation. Entire scenes were filmed, rendered, or drawn in advance. On-screen prompts told the gamer what buttons to push in order to proceed to the next event. While this all sounds dated now, it was ingenious two decades ago, and it was out of this gameplay mechanism that a number of FMV classics like Space Ace were born.
Featuring timeless hand-drawn animation from Don Bluth (who also animated Dragon’s Lair), Space Ace has you playing the role of space hero Ace in his quest to rescue the beautiful Kimberly from the clutches of evil alien mastermind Commander Borf. Borf has devised the sinister Infanto Ray, which he plans to use to turn all of Earth’s denizens into infants, allowing him to easily conquer the planet. This may not be the most cunning science fiction, but it provides plenty of comical moments.
Meet Borf, evil first cousin of Aladdin’s Genie.
The game’s brevity, lasting a mere 13 stages, does sink in fast. Playing on the game’s easiest of three difficulty settings, even with a few deaths, you can finish the game in under 10 minutes. Flashes of light will indicate any of the four directions you’ll need to move Ace, or when it’s time to fire off a round from his blaster.
On easy, your on-screen directional arrows and the fire button will also flash. On hard, though, you need to either memorize the steps or have lightning fast reflexes. These levels also play out in mirror form, which reverses the button presses.
Two control setups round out the package. The large icons are easier to use and surprisingly take up less of your viewing space, and this is a game you’ll want to watch. Beautiful animation (taken from the high-definition master) and hilarious voice acting make up the bulk of this nearly 300MB package. Catching all of the death scenes alone adds replay value, but even if you only play this occasionally, you’ll still find enjoyment. The auto-save feature is a huge bonus, as well.
Space Ace is a must-own for fans of Don Bluth animated arcade games. At a paltry $4.99, even newcomers will enjoy one of the best-looking classic iPhone games available.