SpaceArena: Twist Em, Blast Em, Stick Em In Stew!

SpaceArena - JapJapJap09 Dev.

Price: $ .99

SpaceArena iPhone Video App Review

Space Arena Universal App

Reviewed by Luke Patrick

Are you hunting for a bit of Crystal Quest gameplay redone and revisited on the iPhone and iPad? Or are you just nostalgic for a bit of classic, arcade-style space-shooting action? If so, then dive straight into SpaceArena, by developer JapJapJap09. This throwback iPhone app offers everything you need to have a little fun and revel in nostalgia.


During my iPhone app review I found that if you have ever played the classic Macintosh gem Crystal Quest, then you already know what SpaceArena has to offer. If you weren’t a fanatic—or have never even heard of Crystal Quest—then SpaceArena’s main draw is its retro-style game experience. The app gives you full joystick control of an on-screen spaceship. Using this vessel, you’ll drive about a defined area of space collecting crystals and avoiding mines. Aliens will also fill the screen, begging for you to lob a shot their way and bust them up for points. You’re given only so much energy to work with, as well as a set number of lives, and either touching the boundary or accidentally hitting a baddie will detract from both of these. It’s great fun, and the introduction of power-ups and super-enemies adds a lot of flavor to this throwback pastiche.

That being said, the gameplay does at times feel a bit outdated. With lots of modern innovations rocking the same genre (think Geometry Wars or Hyperlight) the often repetitive nature of SpaceArena can feel downright bothersome. The game doesn’t give you much incentive to keep playing onto the next level, other than a drive to up your previous high-score. SpaceArena does feature achievements, though there’s currently no Game Center integration. All in all, though the gameplay is still fun, SpaceArena would do well to up the pace a bit, getting to the nitty-gritty sooner.



Space Arena Universal App

Space Arena Universal App

SpaceArena’s design is a straight revisit of its predecessor. Sprites and mines look old-school and retro-chic, while the soundtrack is a wonderful mix of techno and electronica. Managing your spacecraft does take some getting used to, as the controls are a bit touchy. You can fine tune them in the settings, but even then it’s a thin line between controlling what feels like a yacht and an hyperactive squirrel. The time restrictions also felt a bit short, as one would have to be a downright ninja to accomplish the levels in under twenty seconds.

Overall Value

However, at the end of the day SpaceArena is saved by its stellar pricing. This iPhone app will only set you back a dollar, making its classic and fun gameplay all the more worthwhile. If you’re pining for some retro action on the iPad and iPhone, SpaceArena is a cheap offering with solid production value.


SpaceArena iPhone app requires iOS 3.2 or later and is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. A small expedite fee was paid by the developer to speed up the publication of this review.

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