Space Is Slippery: Cygnus

I didn't get this far. I'm so rubbish.

I am SO rubbish at Gravitar games. My brain just isn’t equipped with the necessary dexterity for controlling a drifting ship with only one thruster. Who designs those ships, anyway? You’ve developed the ability to travel in space, and you only put a single thruster on your triangular ship? No brakes? No reverse thruster? Who is behind these decisions? It must have cost billions and billions of dollars to build this craft, and such an obvious piece of design not being included is just irresponsible. Imagine the population of the planet tuning in to watch its maiden voyage, the families of those on board watching on the monitors in Mission Control, as it uncontrollably smashes into the first spacewall it encounters, killing everyone on board. My second query is: who is building all those caves in space?

Meanwhile, Thunderware Games created Cygnus.

Thunderware are brothers Anthony and Nick, who make super-low-res arcade games that eat at lunchtimes. And cygnus was picked as one of IndieGames top 10 free indies from last year. They can probably get past the fifth screen. You probably can too. I’ll just sit here feeling useless.

It’s free, it’s slick, and I am really loving having the lo-fi music scrunching away in the background as I write this. Definitely worth a look.


  1. Calneon says:

    It’s a lot like VVVVVV in the way each screen is a mini level, and if you die you restart at the start of that sceen. I don’t like how if you’re travelling too fast as you exit a screen, you instantly die as you enter a new one if there’s an obstacle there.
    They definitely have something here, I’m on the electricity part at the moment.

    EDIT: Finished it, disappointingly short. If they fleshed it out like VVVVVV I would buy it.

    • Wilson says:

      Hmm, it didn’t have the same charm of VVVVV to me, but maybe that’s because I never really felt very good at it. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t want to play much longer.

      Also: 16 minutes! Has anyone completed it and managed to get on the fuel highscore? I have nowhere near enough patience to bother trying to conserve and collect fuel.

    • Calneon says:

      Yeah, as I said they’d need to flesh it out and make it a proper game for it to be as good as VVVVVV, but for me the core gameplay is fun and challenging.

    • phlebas says:

      It doesn’t reduce the cost of failure the way VVVVVV does, though – if the ship blows up you respawn but you’ve still lost the fuel you used on the previous attempt. You can’t just keep trying the little bit you failed indefinitely. Worse, you can fail at the end of the game because you didn’t conserve fuel at the start.

  2. Harlander says:

    Not to mention that the thing must have some kind of vernier thrusters with quite high precision given that it can rotate around its middle and come to rest pointing in a given direction. Even just the ability to fire those to automatically bring it to a stop would save countless lives.

    Might make the game less interesting, though,

  3. Brumisator says:

    makes me wish I had a vector monitor. it just looks like aliased crap as it is.

  4. DrazharLn says:

    I couldn’t beat the planet level. Curse you gravity!

  5. Hypocee says:

    It’s actually very hard and mass-hungry to make a spacecraft with strong engines along more than one vector, because of problems with ‘ullage’. Real word. And now you know!

  6. PoLLeNSKi says:

    21 mins very enjoyably spent and 15 fuel remaining

    Loved the soundtrack and FX which probably kept me going through the hardest bits

  7. Leifland says:

    Gravity Force

  8. MD says:


    I like this game in theory, but in practice it just rams home how utterly incompetent I am.

  9. phlebas says:

    Finished! Nowhere near the high score table and nearly ran out of fuel a couple of times but I got there. I was impressed by how distinct the different areas felt, and the sense of an implicit plot.

    • squidlarkin says:

      I liked that too. At its best moments it reminded me of Gradius 2 on Gameboy, or the last stage of Metroid 2. That was a good era for wordless storytelling.

  10. Shadowcat says:

    In case anyone reading this thread is unaware of the game, Dark Castle’s Gravitron 2 is the very best game of this ilk that I’ve had the pleasure of playing, and an absolute steal at $5. I’m somewhat biased due to being a massive fan of the original Thrust on the BBC Micro, but Gravitron 2 plays so well that it was a strong contender for my game of the year.

    I’m sure mouse control is more accurate if you get used to it, but I recommend that old Thrust players switch to keyboard controls, and configure them to something similar to the old layout (I use A,S,SHIFT,SPACE,RETURN), and I can pretty much guarantee that the old muscle memory will kick in :)