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Spheres of Chaos – Better than Asteroids?

Spheres of Chaos is my newest gaming addition. Not played Spheres yet? Do you like Asteroids? Well, it has some of the same ideas. I won’t guarantee you will like Spheres just because you liked the classic Asteroids, but this game is a ton of fun with layers of difficulty, enemies and power ups when combined with a little luck can make for an intense half hour or more of entertainment for just one game.

Spheres of Chaos Screenshot 1

I was checking out my RSS feeds for Retro Blast two weeks back and the featured story was that Spheres of Chaos went freeware. Never having heard of the game before, I decided to go and check out the website.

Well, the website smacked off a programmer who knew HTML but didn’t know anything about design, the black box logo, the repeating background with un-separated columns of white text. However, when I clicked through the screenshots I was just curious enough that I downloaded the installer and gave Spheres a test run.

I’m addicted to Spheres of Chaos

I will leave out all in depth opinion based reviews concerning Atari’s classic game Asteroids. I didn’t grow up with the game, so I have no nostalgia for it there, and it has never really held my interest so I wasn’t expecting much for Sphere which may be loosely based on Asteroids.

Just like Asteroids in Spheres of Chaos, you have a trianglular ship that can shoot (left mouse click), thrust (right mouse click) as well as turn / spin. The polygon shaped enemies come at you, you shoot them, they break into smaller enemies and so on, you know how Asteroids works. But Spheres of Chaos is so much more.

Spheres of Chaos Screenshot 2

The first level starts with simple round planetoids, but the enemies become more abstract, more intriguing and frankly, more menacing as you move through the levels. From multi-pointed star planets that break into planes to springing hexagon clusters no two enemie move the same and this makes for some intensive gameplay.

Sphere isn’t a new game

I looked back at Spheres of Chaos, it has quite the release history dating back about ten years. This is not a new computer game, but somehow I never heard about it, probably because I don’t go out seeking free computer games because the gameplay usually stinks. But everything about Sphere of Chaos is amazing.

The graphics are late post-modern classic, with what be the cliche ‘rainbow’ style color pallette. You remember the time, all of a sudden game designers could use gradients and we had all these ‘futuristic’ game with spectrum based compositions in the artwork. But that is where the similarities end with Spheres.

Spheres of Chaos Screenshot 3

Every enemy that explodes leave a fractal trail that makes for a beautiful screen when you are on a shooting spree. Tastefully done, the color adds depth, dimension and inspires a little awe when you play the game, I wish I had a screen saver for my computer showing the Sphere of Chaos enemies.

Spheres of Chaos triangular power ups

The power ups are the best part of the game! Randomly, when you shoot an enemy, usually the bigger clusters in the beginning and random enemies when you are up in your level count, out will pop a triangle that will fade to different colors.

I haven’t figured out a pattern just yet and on the Sphere of Chaos website it says;

The triangles slowly change colour, and the colour determines the ability it gives. If you shoot them they also change colour, and go bongggg.

I haven’t seen a consistent power up when you acquire one of these triangles. You can either fly your ship over the power up, or shoot it for a long time until it blows up and gives you your prize. (The shooting seems trivial at first, but in the later levels when you can’t go chasing down these moving power ups it comes in handy.) I think that the power up given isn’t completely random, but rather it is a choose between how much you choose to shoot it before you fly over it, if you shoot it completely, and what level you are on in the strength of weapon. I would love to have the developer make a comment here about what the secret is to getting a certain weapon, but I imagine that is the allure of the game.

Spheres of Chaos Screenshot 4

What are some of the weapons? You get a three way shooter, you can get extra lives, 10 extra lives (my personal favorite and rare), fast shooting, attract mode which puts you in a forcefield and pulls all of your enemies to you, beam (also more helpful in later levels), homing, reverse, multiplier (score), invisible, bounce, shield, bonus score, on and on. I haven’t figured out all of the weapons yet, like ‘Recolor’ which changes the colors of the enemies which I can only guess gives you different point values.

Final Review

I can’t comment on whether someone who loves Asteroids will love Spheres or not. I dislike Asteroids and love Spheres, thinking it is everything Asteroids could have been ten years later. But my guess would be that the breakdown would be something like 60/40. 60% of people who love Asteroids love it for many other reasons than just the game itself and would view an update unfavorably. But I think 40% of you might like the game because some of us love all systems, consoles and gaming in general.

Highest score for Spheres of Chaos

The weapons are what can make or break your score. I have pretty consistently scored over 100,000, making me think that this is a score that is easy for just about any gamer to achieve. But last night as I got to the mid 20th level I started to get a chain of amazing power ups. I think at one point I had a beam, three way, and attract with a shield and before I knew it I was blowing up everything and raced through about 20 levels immediately. How? Every enemy was destroyed and I kept pulling in the power ups which fueled my lives, increased my score and quickly destroyed enemies before any ‘level enders’ appeared.

By the time I was said and done, I had a score of over 1.6 million, and ended at the 59th level! Here’s the HS list.

Spheres of Chaos High Scores
Anyone want to play for score?

I’m looking for someone else who plays Spheres who is looking to do a little challenge back and forth to get the highest score. From what I have read online, 1.6 million is pretty good on factory settings. If you are interested but haven’t played spheres yet, make it over to the Spheres of Chaos website to download the installer.

I would post the back and forth here for anyone who is interested. Takers?

Here are some similar arcade posts

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Comments
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If you like spheres of chaos, you’ll LOVE Jeff Minter’s Gridrunner++. I love that game and best of all he’s got it running on the iPhone 🙂

http://www.llamasoft.co.uk/gridrunner.php

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@Brian:

Can you express why I might like it though? Is Gridrunner based off of another arcade classic with established gameplay? What makes the game so great in your opinion?

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To me, in addition to all the retro gamey sounds I think it blends a ton of retro style gameplay. Essentially it’s like galaga, or perhaps maybe closer to gaplus with all the powerups. More or less, it’s a classic vertical shooter style game in that vein. Much fun 🙂

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@Brian:

I went back out and downloaded Gridrunner again. I couldn’t remember if I had dismissed it entirely or what.

But I had tried playing it before. I didn’t know there were power ups, which is cool, and I remembered that it is a classic vertical style shooter in the vein of Galaga….

But if this is even possible, it was too busy in the background for me to enjoy. Now, I know Spheres get crazy busy with all of the enemies…but in theory, if you clear each level, you will get back to a starfield black screen. In Gridrunner, there is all of this extraneous stuff in the background…kind of reminds me of Tempest somehow. I just couldn’t play it, too distracting.

Does that stuff in the background not bother you?

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The background didn’t bother me much really, but I guess it’s because it’s very similar to probably my favorite all time console game, Tempest 2000 🙂

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