Atari's Asteroids Gunner blasts onto the iPhone

Asteroids Gunner follows the same basic gameplay as the original stand-up arcade game, but adds much more to the action.

Asteroids Gunner follows the same basic gameplay as the original stand-up arcade game, but adds much more to the action. At the beginning of the game, you find yourself in an asteroid field and your job is to maneuver your ship and break up asteroids until you've cleared the area. Also like in the original, occasionally a UFO will materialize that you can shoot for bonus points. But what brings Asteroids Gunner squarely into the present day are several improvements that will keep you coming back for more. For starters, Asteroids Gunner uses a dual-stick control method with the left stick for maneuvering and the right for firing your weapons--a common iPhone shooter control method that most can pick up and play right away.

Along with updated controls, Asteroids Gunner introduces several new gameplay elements. As you shoot asteroids, some will leave behind crystals. Crystals are the in-game currency that lets you buy new ships, temporary boosts that give you an advantage, skills that upgrade your ship permanently, and weapon slots that let you customize your ship's loadout. In between waves, the game prompts you to head to the store to spend your crystals on new items and skills so you can get through harder levels more quickly.

In terms of content, Asteroids Gunner offers plenty to unlock and explore. You get to play through three different galaxies for a total of 150 waves of asteroid-shooting fun. You can pilot three different ships with varying attributes so you can choose your play style. The game also comes with over 200 achievements and both OpenFeint and Game Center support.

Though Asteroids Gunner is a free game, as with many iOS app titles these days, there's plenty of opportunity to spend your money through in-app purchases. There's a Bank screen where you can spend real money to purchase Space Bucks that will let you buy better upgrades than you can get using the in-game currency. You can buy 50 Space Bucks for 99 cents, all the way up to 1,000,000 Space Bucks for $99.99.

Overall, Asteroids Gunner offers challenging gameplay that sticks to the basic concepts of the arcade original while adding tons of content and upgrades you can earn as you play. While we're not crazy about the idea of Space Bucks, you can always slog it out and get excellent upgrades simply by playing the game and earning achievements and crystals.

If you have even a passing interest in arcade classics or shoot-'em-up games in general, we strongly recommend Asteroids Gunner.

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