Retro in name, appearance and design – in fact, anybody who fondly remembers playing the 1986 game “Thrust” could probably skip the rest of this review and go and buy it right now!
To be fair, although Retro Cave Flyer resembles Thrust in appearance, the gameplay is more closely related to a mix of Lunar Lander and Choplifter, which just happen to be two of my favourite oldies!
The object of this game is basically to rescue trapped scientists, successful completion of which gives you a good old fashioned high score, based on time elapsed, scientists rescued, fuel remaining and damage taken. You achieve this by piloting a spaceship through increasingly tighter and more complex caves to reach platforms that require landing on to pick up the patient little chaps, all while gravity is constantly pulling you down as you burn fuel by firing your jet engines to slow your descent or alter your direction of travel.
Bumping into walls or landing too hard will damage your ship until it’s limit is reached and you explode, firing your engines too much without refuelling will cause you to crash and taking too long to rescue all your scientists will end the game, all of which make such a basic premise suddenly become a very challenging and addictive game.
Unlike Thrust, there is no shooting involved in Retro Cave Flyer but it never feels like it’s needed, I enjoyed flying my little ship around the caves without crashing so much that I never felt like something was missing. In fact, RCF is so well balanced and designed that the only criticism I have is the ridiculously easy early levels fail to warn you of just how bloody difficult things get later on!
Although RCF has only 12 levels, the options to increase the gravitational pull and difficulty make replaying them interesting enough to keep trying for that better score and the pleasant cartoony graphics, funky music and professional presentation (especially the charming old fashioned green screen style computer display) make the game genuinely fun to play. However, the fact that RCF costs only 99p and can be played on your PS3, PSP and even a shiny new PS Vita, make this not only an absolute bargain but an essential purchase for anybody who last played a game like this after having waited 15 minutes for it to load off cassette!