It's easy to start getting complacent with all the high quality titles coming out of the indie space right now, but even so there is the occasional game that really stands out above the rest for whatever reason, and RetroBooster by ReallySlick is just one of those games. I grew up on gravity lander-thruster games on the Apple II and C64, such as space taxi, thrust, lunar lander to eventually Exile on Amiga and often found myself frustrated with the difficulty but ultimately satisfied with getting the result. So RetroBooster looks like a welcome breath of fresh air since no seems to be making hard-as-nails gravity games any more as developer Terry Welsh commits his lovely OpenGL particle effects experience from Really Slick Screensavers into a beautiful gravity-cave-thruster-explorer-shmup (whew!)
I got stuck into playing the demo and loved the smoothness of the control physics which seemed to be weighted just right so you're not perpetually fighting against over-compensation and zooming off into a cave wall. But the real winner has to be the reverse thrust, allowing you to hover over enemies while delivering a full payload of heat. And for once, this isn't yet another Unity mashup of asset store items and plugins doing all the heavy lifting, Terry has written the whole engine in SDL C++ and OpenGL and the particle effects on the explosions and exhaust trails intermingling with each other are just lovely.
From the Author:
With a custom particle engine squirting out the visual effects, Retrobooster will bathe your eyeballs in its explosions. But this game also remembers that a good cave-flyer is all about honing your flying skills and how the controls feel. Piloting a ship that is always seconds from a fatal collision, Retrobooster sustains a quiet tension. Survival is between you, the alien horde, and the game's realistic physics.
The project has just been released and is available on steam, with a playable demo for Linux and Windows.
Despite some really pretty particle effects, the demo is pretty light on requirements, with my spare PC playing it without breaking a sweat on a 2Ghz Pentium Dual core and a lowly passive Geforce 210 under Ubuntu 14.04 AT FULL HD 1080p resolution which just goes to show what a well optimised game can do on even meagre hardware.