TouchArcade Game of the Week: ‘Asteroid Commando’

The idea behind the TouchArcade Game of the Week is that every Friday afternoon we post the one game that came out this week that we think is worth giving a special nod to. Now, before anyone goes over-thinking this, it doesn’t necessarily mean our Game of the Week pick is the highest scoring game in a review, the game with the best graphics, or really any other quantifiable “best” thing. Instead, it’s more just us picking out the single game out of the week’s releases that we think is the most noteworthy, surprising, interesting, or really any other hard to describe quality that makes it worth having if you were just going to pick up one.
These picks might be controversial, and that’s OK. If you disagree with what we’ve chosen, let’s try to use the comments of these articles to have conversations about what game is your game of the week and why.
Without further ado…
 
Asteroid Commando
I’m going out on a limb and doing something a bit different for this Game of the Week. I’m picking an Apple Watch game! Yes, those are still a thing. The Apple Watch came out more than 4 years ago, and with its launch came all sorts of excitement at what sort of gaming experiences could be possible on our wrists. There was A LOT of fanfare around Apple Watch gaming, but the only things that really worked well were extremely simple idle games or companion apps to larger gaming experiences. Enthusiasm for Apple Watch gaming has waned over the years, but there’s still some developers out there making good games for your wrist. One of them is indie developer John Passfield who has just released Asteroid Commando ($1.99) this week.


Thursday January 01, 1970

As you could probably guess, Asteroid Commando is heavily inspired by the classic Asteroids. Your ship moves and fires automatically, but you’ll control its direction using the crown of your Apple Watch. The goal is to blast giant asteroids which then split into smaller asteroids and then those turn into even smaller asteroids before you can blast them to nothing. Every rock you blast will earn you a point and there’s bonus diamonds that net you even more points as well as a selection of special weapon power-ups that will pop up as you play. I’m not going to pretend this is anything more than a simplistic Astroids-style game because it isn’t, but what makes it work so well is how it’s been tuned to play on the Apple Watch.
The speed of your ship feels totally manageable, there’s no inertia as there would be in Asteroids proper which is definitely a good thing in this situation, and the haptic feedback is implemented super well so that you can actually feel what’s happening while you play. Asteroid Commando is a game you can reasonably fire up for just a few moments at a time and enjoy playing it on a tiny screen with very few inputs that’s attached to your wrist. It’s so refreshing to see somebody putting thought into the Apple Watch platform when developing a game, taking both its positives and negatives into account. I feel like that’s what has been missing from many Apple Watch games over the years.


Thursday January 01, 1970

Passfield has done similar magic with two other space shooters: The Galaga-like Jupiter Attack ($1.99) and the also Galaga-like but with circular Tempest-style movement Kepler Attack ($1.99), which feels especially cool to control with the crown on your watch. All three games can be played on your regular iOS devices too, but honestly if you do that the simplicity really becomes apparent, and it’s obvious these are first and foremost meant to be played on an Apple Watch where they shine brightest. If you’re someone who was interested in but never wowed by Apple Watch gaming, I’d urge you to pick up any of these three titles for $1.99 apiece or grab all three in a bundle for $3.99 and see how surprisingly fun gaming on your wrist can be when someone puts the proper thought and care into the experience.


Thursday January 01, 1970