April 15, 2014 11:00 PM | James Monkman
Based on an ancient Amstrad CPC 'classic', Rubble 'N' Strafe from one-man studio Far From Sleep is a near-perfect example of rose-tinted nostalgia done right. An endless flier/shmup hybrid (yet refreshingly NOT a Flappy Bird clone), RNS clearly draws its inspiration from Durell's Harrier Attack, bringing the 8-bit gameplay up to date by adding the unpredictability of procedural generation and some heavy duty explosive action to the mix. Oh, and the crashes are awesome, almost to the point where you'll want to nose dive into the enemy troops to see how much destruction is caused by your hopeless plane as the wreckage tumbles through watch-towers, skyscrapers and ... flocks of incendiary sheep.
With your two-button-controlled assault taking place over land, sea and the skies, Rubble 'N' Strafe keeps you on the edge of your seat in true old-school arcade style. One minute you'll be skimming over the ocean taking out cargo ships and deftly avoiding rocket-firing helicopers, then the next you'll be on land, dropping bombs over a heavily defended city and blasting holes through buildings, with happless victims falling to their demise on the rubble-strewn streets below. And then a few seconds later you'll be zipping through open countryside, avoiding ground-to-air turrets and pot-shots from enemy soldiers. In fact, within less than a minute you'll probably see all the game can throw at you - but that doesn't make it any less fun.
It's not all mindless shooting though. Similar to Konami's Scramble, you'll need to regularly top up your fuel gauge by regularly shooting at fuel crates and collecting the pick-ups trapped within - and the same applies to your arsenal of bombs too. I personally found that the best strategy when playing was to use the open country and sea sections as a chance to top up on fuel and power-ups, and then furiously tap the bomb button as soon as the background changed to the cityscape, blindly hoping that my ammo would hold out for the next few screens. Not that I cared too much when it didn't, because the the goofy cartoon physics observed during your final airborne moments are hugely rewarding.
The only criticism I can offer is that the game is currently missing a score table, which is almost a criminal offence for an arcade style shmup. Even a highest-achieved score would be nice, so that's something I'm holding out for in a future build.
As with Far From Sleep's other releases (GemHex and Snowbrawl in Hell), Rubble 'N' Strafe is currently available on both PC and Android, and is soon to be added to the Ouya library. Although Jay has announced that he'll be "experimenting with different payment models", the game is currently completely free, leaving you with pretty much no excuse to not give it a try.