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Daily iPhone App: Asteroids Gunner

I launched Asteroids Gunner with low expectations. Asteroids is one of the oldest games around, and it's hard to see how even Atari can squeeze anything more from this relic. But lo and behold, it has. Asteroids Gunner is a remarkable freemium dual-stick shooter, turning the top-down 2D gameplay of the original into something graphically impressive and addicting at the same time.

The graphics and sound are probably what you'll notice first. It obviously looks better than the old 2D line drawings, yet the beautiful asteroids, ship, rocks and backgrounds are clean and simple enough to put the gameplay front and center (the mechanics are nearly identical to the old Asteroids game). The ambient soundtrack deserves a mention as well, as it sounds great.

That's great, but gameplay is the star of Asteroids Gunner. Not only do the dual-stick controls do their job well, but there are tons of rewards to attain as you break apart rocks and guide your ship around the gamespace. You can collect crystals to upgrade your ships, or a surprising amount of powerups, including a gravity shockwave, a spread shot, a time warp slowdown and even an "ice laser" that fires a straight line across the screen. There are also many of achievements to earn, so every few minutes, through every wave, you get a lot of great bonuses and nice rewards that keep the game moving along.

It starts off easy and gets harder, but there's over 150 waves to play through, which means there's a lot of content for a game that beings relatively simply. There's also full Game Center integration, and three different ships to unlock and play with. Perhaps best of all, Asteroids Gunner is free. You can pay some in-app purchases to upgrade your ship or weapons, but the core game is so well tuned that they aren't necessary.

I was surprised by Asteroids Gunner. It's a solid game that updates a classic well. Definitely give it a download.

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