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Spacejacked Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Much like Iron Brigade, Spacejacked is an action-packed take on tower defense. It suffers from many of the problems that often plague the genre, but the fast-paced excitement makes it easy to overlook the imperfections. Fans of this style of 2D shooter will find a lot to love in Spacejacked, even if they aren't keen on tower defense. Rating: 64%
Spacejacked
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
Not long ago, I reviewed Rock 'N' Roll Defense, a game that perfectly embodied everything I dislike about the tower defense genre. But just as I was ready to completely give up on that type of game, I was reminded of how much I loved Iron Brigade on Xbox 360. By mixing third-person action with tower defense, Double Fine was able to turn an otherwise boring genre into an intense firefight. Perhaps that's why I had such a good time with Spacejacked, the debut game from Rotten Mage. There's no time to sit around waiting for something to happen, because this variation takes a page straight out of Contra's playbook.

By mixing a 2D side-scrolling shooter with traditional tower defense, the developers have created an intoxicatingly addictive action game that perfectly transcends genres. It's a simple premise that hardly seems sustainable at first, but even after a few hours of fighting alien scum, I kept coming back for more.


You play Dave, a security officer tasked with not only protecting the spaceship from intruders, but also rescuing the three kidnapped astronauts from certain doom. You do this by jumping between three different sections of the ship, each with a unique layout and look. The goal is to set up weapon turrets in strategic areas and keep the aliens from damaging the computers.

Although it looks a lot like Contra or Gunstar Heroes, Spacejacked plays by a lot of the traditional tower defense rules. Dave starts with only so much metal to spend, but he'll pick up more with each enemy he kills. He'll use this collection of metal to build new turrets, repair the damage and even upgrade the defenses. But he only has a few seconds to do this before it's off to the next wave of bad guys.

The difficulty ramps up when Dave has to think about more than one section of the ship at a time. There are waves of enemies that have us warping between sections, hoping you equipped enough turrets to hold back the aliens while you're away. This is ratcheted up in a big way in the final few waves, when our hero is forced to jump between all three areas of the ship without stopping.

Spacejacked (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The good news is that Dave is able to rest up between chapters. After defeating three intense waves, he'll be able to take his time repairing the ship and even talk to the rest of the crew. This gives us a chance to upgrade the turrets and improve our gun. What's more, Spacejacked also includes a fun (albeit simple) Gradius clone. This 2D shoot-em-up mini-game gives us an opportunity to pick up pieces of metal, which you'll need when going into the next wave of enemies.

Despite doing a great job of making tower defense exciting, Spacejacked is unable to escape some of the genre's most glaring problems. The big problem here is variety, or the lack thereof. For example, you'll only jump between three sections of the ship, and the limited weapon types aren't enough to keep the game from becoming repetitive. I also wish some of the late-game upgrades were introduced earlier.

Beyond the repetition, I was disappointed by how short the story mode is. Once you get the hang of the action, it won't take more than 90 minutes to fight your way to the end. Thankfully, Spacejacked comes with an endless mode and a bunch of challenge levels to complete. Still, it would have been nice to see more variety throughout the main game.

Spacejacked (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Even though I wish there was more to the gameplay, I was impressed with the throwback visuals and chiptunes soundtrack. The gameplay is also on point, though it may take a while to get used to Dave's gravity suit. I wish Rotten Mage would have given our hero more weapons or a different suit, but none of that is here.

Much like Iron Brigade, Spacejacked is an action-packed take on tower defense. It suffers from many of the problems that often plague the genre, but the fast-paced excitement makes it easy to overlook the imperfections. Fans of this style of 2D shooter will find a lot to love in Spacejacked, even if they aren't keen on tower defense.
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