The very next game on my Steam list ended up being the next game I played, last year’s 1993 Space Machine.
I’ve always been a fan of shoot ’em ups, playing many in arcades back in the 80’s and 90’s with the R-Type series being a particular favourite as I’m sure it is for many others. When I first saw 1993 Space Machine, I simply thought that it was designed to emulate the style of the classic games and didn’t realise that it had originally been designed for the Amiga before being abandoned close to completion and was only finished recently after the code was discovered in a box.
Judging by the interviews I’ve read it gathered quite a bit of interest back in the 90’s, and stood out among other similar games due to it’s four player mode which was much more of a rarity back then. This functionality has been preserved in the Steam release, though I’ve not had the opportunity to play it with anyone to see how well it works unfortunately.
The game starts giving you a selection of ships and additonal weapons, though these are very limited when you start out. Defeating enemies causes small shards to appear which give credits when collected and can then be used to upgrade or purchase new ships with different abilities and do the same for the additional weapon pods.
There are four main levels which can be replayed through the level select, and each level features an introductory stage with a boss at the end though sadly these can’t be revisited. While developing the Steam version the decision was made to give infinite lives, meaning that it’s not a terribly difficult game to actually finish as you can just keep going. I personally feel this was probably the right decision, classic arcade shoot ’em ups after all also had infinite lives as long as you were able to keep pumping coins into them. There’s also a hardcore mode that unlocks after you beat the first level that has a limit of three lives.
Each level ends in a boss with varying levels off difficulty, a couple killed me a bunch of times before I managed to get past them but I didn’t have any major problems. I also rather liked how the boss battles would have parts of the enemy ship be destroyed as you fight them, nicely illustrating the damage that you’re causing.
There are two secret levels hidden within the game, while I’ve managed to find one of them as it’s fairly well documented the second one is still eluding me and I’ll likely keep playing until I’ve found it.
If you’re only considering a single playthrough then it’s a little on the short side (the developer has said they wished they’d reused some of the art assets and made a couple of levels per planet instead of having everything new for each one) but there’s a decent amount of replay value for those who like to unlock everything such as achievements and ship upgrades. A few of the achievements are quite tricky and I managed to miss the one for dying 42 times in a single playthrough the first time around. Length aside though, it’s an enjoyable game and one I’m glad eventually saw the light of day.
Edit: Eventually found the second secret level thanks to some help in the Steam discussions (won’t spoil the secret here, but it’s easy enough to find if you wanted to since it’s hardly the busiest Steam forum) and it goes absolutely mental. Yikes.