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1993 Space Machine Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . 23 years after it was meant to come out, 1993 Space Machine is finally seeing a proper release. This 2D shoot-em-up would have fit in perfectly two decades ago, but feels a bit stale in 2016. Worse yet, there are elements that are still broken and feel unpolished. But even with the imperfections, 1993 Space Machine is an interesting time capsule worth discovering. Rating: 57%
1993 Space Machine
1993 Space Machine 1993 Space Machine 1993 Space Machine 1993 Space Machine
  • Review Score:

  • C+
As somebody who spends most of the day playing video games, I've grown used to seeing modern games with retro-inspired graphics and old classics re-released on new platforms. But rarely do I run across a 23 year old game seeing a release for the very first time. That's exactly what I discovered with 1993 Space Machine, a 2D shoot-em-up that most people thought would never see the light of day.

As the story goes, this game was created by four Swedish teenagers in the early 1990s. The near-finished shooter had been featured in magazines, a publisher was secured and it looked like game would see release on the Commodore Amiga. But then teenage drama got in the way, and the project was abandoned at the last second. Instead of wowing critics back in 1993, it got boxed up and stored away, far from sight and mind.

As it turns out, nothing stays hidden forever. Recently, one of those developers uncovered the game and, much to his surprise and delight, discovered that it still worked. Best of all, the game held up. This prompted the reunited team to post the game on Steam, giving the world a chance to experience a shooter that should have come out 23 years ago.

Simply put, this is a by-the-numbers side-scrolling shoot-em-up where you take out alien ships and save planets from certain destruction. You've played this type of game before, and it largely doesn't do anything new. You fly from left-to-right dodging bullets and hoping to survive long enough to go up against the boss. Win here and you're off to an even larger stage where you finish the fight for good.

The big change here is that players can choose between a few different upgradeable ships and then equip them with a wide assortment of side weapons. Much of the game revolves around players picking up money from downed alien ships and then using it to buy new equipment and upgrade what you already have. There are a lot of different weapons to upgrade throughout the course of the game, so get ready to collect a lot of money.

1993 Space Machine (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Beyond the side weapons, the ship comes with a curved shield that can be rotated all the way around the craft. This will protect you from stray bullets, which makes some of the bullet hell sections a lot more manageable. But the shield can't sustain too many hits and will disappear over time, so you still need to stay cautious when going through the varied stages.

Speaking of which, 1993 Space Machine does a great job of mixing things up from level to level. Sure, you can expect the usual stages where you're stuck in the middle of space, but I liked what they did with the forest levels, cavernous sections and the cityscape bits. Each stage offers unique obstacles to overcome and enemies to destroy. It's never the most groundbreaking content, but it's undoubtedly fun.

Unfortunately, it's also a little broken. I'm not sure if it's because the game was never fully developed or something else, but I ran into a number of game-breaking problems. In fact, there's one boss that seems to halt the game dead in its tracks, simply refusing to blow up so that our hero can get back to saving the universe. I also ran into checkpoints that didn't work properly and several other issues that made me wish 1993 Space Machine was more polished.

1993 Space Machine (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

On the topic of checkpoints, I found that they were too few and far between. You'll often start a stage with a countdown at the top letting you know how far away you are from the boss. Unfortunately, you'll have to go that full distance in a single life; one death will send you right back to the beginning of the stage. Eventually the game gives in and does offer checkpoints, but you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get to one.

Even with some unique stages and a solid presentation, I found myself liking the history of 1993 Space Machine a lot more than the gameplay. It has a cool shop system that is full of customization, but the action is fairly generic and occasionally frustrating. It's a shame this game took so long to come out, I would have loved to have seen what critics thought two decades ago.
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