Super Space Club is a great example of a game that’s easy to play and hard to master. Set amidst a stunning and soothing interpretation of the vastness of space, the diverse members of a stellar group suit up to fight baddies in a wonderfully modern take on the arcade shooter. But this mission is surprisingly meditative as chill beats and hypnotic movement accompany everything you do.
There are five teammates in the Super Space Club, but four of them are locked in the beginning. I don’t get any narrative intro to the world or the titular group. It’s all about the action here.
Xander, a royal pangolin, is the sole member open to me from the outset and my only loadout options are pretty basic. A pyramid ship and a single-shot gun is all I get for the mission, but it doesn’t matter. Even though I don’t make it past the second wave of enemies, I just feel cool.
The space-like physics propel me even if I’m not actively hitting the gas, opening up opportunities for sick drifts and ace maneuvering. With the utterly smooth cosmic lyrics and melody, I can imaging myself smiling behind a pair of aviator glasses before locking onto my target.
Every enemy defeated drops stardust. In these early stages, the most common enemy drops somewhere in the realm of 20. And with the fifth, and coolest-looking, character — a hippo named Gertie — costing a whopping 18,000 stardust to unlock, I have a long way to go.
Dog fights amidst the stars are governed by my energy bar. This meter is affected by both the amount of ammo I shoot and damage I take. It’s an interesting combo that makes it so I can also jet around, but have to focus intently on whether the last burst of fire I need to take down my foe will end my run.
Luckily, each club member gets their own special. For Xander, it’s a shield that comes in clutch if I need to regenerate my flagging energy bar when surrounded by hostiles crafts. The enemy waves grow increasingly more powerful as they go. Wave one features small ships with single-shot guns but getting to wave five, I have to contend with homing rockets, spinning starships releasing constant blaster shots in deadly spiral patterns, and megaton deathnaughts that shoot obliterating laser beams.
I will eventually fall to a stray blast or intense offensive. Dropping to zero energy triggers my character to initiate the wrap drive, effectively ending the run. I can chose to jump back in at wave one immediately or go back to change my pilot and equipment. This last is where I can spend all the stardust I picked up in the last mission. Stronger ships, seeking missiles, and characters ranging from time-altering chameleons and dashing antelopes await me.
The pull of Super Space Club is the irresistible feeling that I can get past that enemy that took me down, that I can complete an objective I’m just on the cusp of achieving, or that I only need a bit more stardust to unlock the thing I want. It’s the kind of game that eats time and I’m more than happy to feed it.