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Confessions Of A Shameless Gravitart

Well, not confessions exactly, just me using Space Week as a feeble excuse to recommend fine freeware involving spaceships, cramped tunnels, and towed pods.

TerraFire is the obvious place to start. Creator Owen Thomas deserves a tooth-loosening pat on the back for single-handedly crafting this gem, and a big wet French kiss for cutting the price to £0.00 last summer. DosBox may be required, but so what. The pretty parallax visuals, varied hazards, and perfect pendulum physics are well-worth a minute’s MOUNT C-ing.

Five more twirly spaceship options after the cut.

Thrust Xtreme is a stark yet stylish remake of Firebird’s Thrust (the game that added dangly loads to the Gravitar formula). No saves means you’ll need the F1 key (level skip) or the hand-eye coordination of a scalpel juggler to sample all 14 fiendish levels. In the unlikely event you do reach the end without cheating, you get to do the whole thing again with reversed gravity. Survive that and the third run features invisible scenery. Madness.

More glowing neon vectors and delicate booster dabbing, GraviTron doesn’t do pod towing, but there’s plenty of interesting stuff to destroy and lots of treacherous catacombs to explore. Expect to die a lot. I’ve never been able to get past Level 6

Levitar 3D: Evolved is soft and fluffy by grav game standards. Most of the action takes place above ground so you don’t need to worry about lethal cavern ceilings. The extra D doesn’t bring a lot to the experience (your craft and view still only move in one plane) but the ODE physics inject some novelty and unpredictably. Bouncing wreckage from blasted turrets and tanks can cause secondary explosions and complicate pod recovery.

Gravity Core is the latest Thrustalike in my life. Cheap (£6) rather than free, it’s brownness and brutality were off-putting at first. Now it’s been mellowed with a patch, and I’ve got far enough into the mission chain to unlock a few ship upgrades, it’s starting to grow on me. All the classic ingredients are here – miner rescuing, fuel replenishing, load dangling – plus a few new ones. I’ve just discovered I can bounce flying foes into cave walls with the help of my beefed-up Shield. Nice.

And something Flashy for dessert: Thrusta for browsa

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Tim Stone

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