Asteroids (Atari, 1979) is one of the most played, revisited, revamped and cloned arcade games of all time. But do we have something fresh here with this latest installment? Introducing CMYW, which are the initials of the four colors central to play: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and White.
The game supports up to four players in local co-op mode. Each player is represented by a tiny ship, colored C, M, Y and W respectively. True to form, play ensues on a two-dimensional map rendered in “vector graphics”, a term introduced in the ’70s…and largely lost by the end of the ’80s. The map is filled with asteroids, which when destroyed will drop ore pellets. Pick up the ore and deliver it to the worm hole located at center-screen. Congratulations; you’ve learned how to play.
The first thing you’ll notice right out of the gate is that your ship is shaped like an equilateral triangle. While this is an accurate tribute to Asteroids, it makes it difficult to tell which way you’re facing. Upon acceleration a little afterburner appears on one side of the ship, but by then it’s often too late to alter course. An isosceles triangle would make much more sense here, with the afterburner located on the short side.
As you and your partners are flying around making little ones out of big ones, special large pellets will sometimes spawn. These give you temporary power-ups, such as rapid fire, homing bullets and buckshot. Another interesting feature is that when you crash into an asteroid, you’re not automatically dead. Your pilot ejects and floats around the screen as a tiny dot. If you can navigate back to the wormhole in time, you’ll emerge inside a brand new ship and the game continues. If you tarry, then you’ll die and have to begin the game from scratch. Another way for the game to end is if you allow an asteroid to touch the wormhole itself…do not allow this!
CMYW is somewhat tame in the early stages of play. The game’s difficulty is measured in “Threat Level” (displayed at the bottom of the screen), which steadily increases. Asteroids become more numerous and move around faster as the threat level goes up. When the players finally succumb, their scores are tallied up. The following screenshot shows what it would look like with a full co-op cast of four. The pie and graph charts are easy to read. The object counters below the graphs indicate the number of asteroids destroyed, as well as the number of specials collected.
Overall, is CMYW worth it? Yes, developer Shane Berezowski has a winner here. It’s fast, laugh-out-loud fun. Even in “cyan-single-player” mode, it brings back great arcade memories. If you decide to use a controller, you may want to play around a bit with the mappings. Some will find the analog stick easier to use for ship control; others will prefer the D-pad. Either way, get ready to bring those old skills out of storage and blast away!