Blast in Space
|Released: 12 October 2005
Retired: 23 January 2008
Introduction and Game History
The VMK Blast in Space game first appeared on 12 October 2005. During the first few days, the prize was a complete yellow/orange spacesuit (the same spacesuit that was sold during the Disneyland 50th Anniversary Celebration Weekend). On 15 October 2005, a third ship was added (originally called the Star Tours ship, but it was renamed Star Speeder 3000 a few days later). On 17 October 2005, the prize for beating the game was changed to the spacesuit and a yellow HKDL chair. In honor of Tron Month, on 1 September 2006 the prize became a Tron Arcade Cabinet. With the release of the Penny Arcade on 23 January 2008, the game was no longer available.
|Mission Space Helmet|| Q
|Released: 16 July 2005|
Retired: 18 July 2005
|Mission Space Vest|| Q
|Released: 16 July 2005|
Retired: 18 July 2005
|Mission Space Pants|| Q
|Released: 16 July 2005|
Retired: 18 July 2005
|Mission Space Shoes|| Q
|Released: 16 July 2005|
|Hong Kong Ship Chair||Yellow||X/Q
||Released: 17 October 2005|
Retired: 31 January 2006
|Tron Arcade Cabinet||X/Q
Sells for D10
||Released: 1 September 2006|
Retired: 23 January 2008
The controls for this game are simple. You can move forwards or backwards using the Up and Down arrow keys. You can rotate the ship left or right using the Left or Right arrow keys. To fire, press or hold the space bar. The mouse is only used to select a ship and to click the button between levels.
Choosing a Vehicle
For the longest time, I thought the attributes shown above actually changed the way the ships perform in the game. However, after extensive testing tonight, I have actually convinced myself that there is really no difference between the ships in any category! Here are my test results for the four attribute categories:
Firepower: I took screen shots and measured the farthest distance each ship could shoot. It turns out that all three ships can fire the same distance. I also tested the rate of fire and found that all three ships can fire 50 shots in 12 seconds.
Handling: Although the flying saucer rotation animation seems a bit smoother since it appears to rotate in place, I found that all three ships can make 10 revolutions in 13 seconds. The flying saucer may have a slight advantage because it is smaller, but that's the only real difference I can think of. Maybe they slow down at different rates; I forgot to test that (I knew I must have left something out!).
Speed: I measured the amount of time it took me to go from the bottom of the screen to the top and back to the bottom, two times. Each ship can complete this journey in 16 seconds.
Conclusions: based on the attributes shown on the ship selection screen, I was originally under the impression that the Star Speeder 3000 is the best ship because it combines high shields with high firepower and is plenty fast enough. However, after all of my tests, I think it's really a matter of personal preference since all three ships should perform similarly. A few other things to keep in mind: the Star Speeder 3000 and Rocket Ship are bulkier than the Flying Saucer, so it is easier for them to collide with asteroids. However, the advantage of those two over the Flying Saucer is that it is much easier to see which direction your gun is aimed.
Types of Levels
There are three types of levels in the game:
- Scoring Levels: have to score a minimum number of points within a certain time limit
- Checkpoint Levels: have to visit each of the five stations within a certain time limit
- Delivery Levels: have to deliver a certain number of cargo containers from one level to another within a certain time limit
There are 16 total levels in the game, as shown below (10 Scoring levels, 3 Checkpoint levels, and 3 Delivery levels). Each level gets progressively harder by increasing the number of points you have to score, increasing the number of items you have to deliver, and/or changing the time limit. However, the asteroid patterns in each level are exactly the same.
There are five stations in the game. One of the stations appears at random during Scoring levels and contains a power-up. All five stations appear during Checkpoint and Delivery levels. The location of the five stations move around slightly during each game, but they are always in the same general location:
- Station 1: Top left corner
- Station 2: Middle of the board, but closer to the top than the bottom
- Station 3: Top right corner
- Station 4: Bottom left corner
- Station 5: Bottom right corner
By far, the hardest station to find is Station 2; for the other stations, if you can find a corner of the board you will usually see the station. Here are a few tips on finding Station 2 during Delivery levels (shouldn't be a problem during Checkpoint levels as long as you visit Station 2 first).
Finding Station 2:
- If you are near the bottom of the screen, find the Moon Base and go straight up.
- If you are near the top of the screen, find the small planet with a ring and go straight down.
- If you are at Station 1 or 3, go down and towards the center of the board at approximately a 30 degree angle relative to a horizontal line (get out those protractors!).
- If you are at Station 4 or 5, go up and towards the center of the board at approximately a 60 degree angle relative to a horizontal line.
There are three types of power-ups in the game:
A single random power-up will appear at a random station location in each Scoring level. There are no power-ups in the Checkpoint or Delivery levels. To activate a power-up, locate the visible station in a Scoring level and run into it. The power-up will fly out of the station and appear as a yellow dot on the radar. Next, run into the power-up to receive its powers. The power-up attempts to find you and flies around the screen, but it is not too smart and lags quite a bit. If you shoot a power-up, you will hear a unique noise and it disappears. You don't receive or lose any points for this--it just goes away and doesn't return.
When you start a new level, for a split second your ship appears where you ended the previous level before it automatically moves you back to the center. So, if you end the previous level on top of a station (which you are guaranteed to do during Checkpoint and Delivery levels), you have a chance of quickly starting out on top of a station during the next Scoring level and automatically getting a power-up. Personally, I don't find the power-ups to be helpful enough to build this into my strategy, but perhaps you can use this to your advantage.
Tips for Scoring Levels
The only way to score points in Blast in Space is to shoot asteroids. There are three different types of asteroids, and they can break into four different-sized pieces (actual size):
Regardless of the color of asteroid, the points for shooting each size are the same. They are:
- Size 1 (largest): 100 points
- Size 2 (next largest): 160 points
- Size 3 (next smallest): 202 points
- Size 4 (smallest): 232 points
When you shoot an asteroid, it splits into two pieces of the next smallest size. If you are too close to an asteroid, it may just disappear rather than split. This is to your disadvantage since the smaller fragments are worth more, so I would recommend not getting too close. When an asteroid splits, the pieces fly off in a perpendicular direction (sideways) relative to the direction the asteroid was originally traveling. One simple strategy for hitting a lot of fragments is to always fire perpendicular to the direction the asteroids are traveling. That way, the first fragment will fly directly at you, giving you an easy second hit. Another strategy that works well is to let the asteroids come directly towards your ship. Immediately after hitting the first asteroid, rotate to the left or right and aim for one of the Size 2 fragments. Repeat this with the Size 3 and Size 4 fragments, if possible. When using this strategy, sometimes I find it helpful to slowly move backwards as long as there are no asteroids behind me.
The key to mastering scoring levels is to memorize the patterns of the asteroid paths. No matter how good you are at hitting asteroids, if you can't find enough of them to shoot before the time runs out then you are out of luck! Fortunately, the asteroids always travel in the same paths on all levels.
Below is an image showing the entire game board, the three primary asteroid paths, and the direction of travel. There is a different pattern than this at the start of each level (discussed later on), but eventually all asteroids will settle into one of the following three paths:
One of the best places to hang out on the board if you are looking for asteroids is where the red and blue lines cross, below Station 3. I prefer to shoot up at the two different streams of asteroids from a little below this point since you can safely move backwards if necessary. The one downside of this location is you will lose some asteroid fragments off the right side of the screen. Another good place to hang out is where the red and yellow paths cross. I prefer to stay to the left of this point and fire directly to the right. This point is a little more dangerous though since you are close to where the yellow asteroid path is spawning, and you also lose quite a few fragments off the bottom and right sides of the screen. Usually there will be a long string of asteroids in each of these paths, but eventually there will be a pause before the next string starts. When that happens, it's a good idea to fly off to one of the other two paths looking for more asteroids to shoot rather than waiting around for more to show up.
Note the safe spots on the map above: as long as the asteroids have settled into these three patterns and you aren't shooting, you can't get hit by anything if you aren't directly in one of these three paths. So, once you've exceeded the minimum level score, it's a very good idea to quit shooting and head for a safe zone. I prefer to hover on top of the Moon Base at the bottom center of the screen since it's easy to find, but there are plenty of other safe spots. If you are low on shields, one other thing you can do while waiting for the next level to start is to carefully locate the station with a power-up and maybe you will get lucky. However, remember you get some shields at the start of the next level, so you have to decide if it is worth the risk of running into an asteroid and losing even more energy while you are out exploring.
The asteroid paths at the start of each level are a little different. They always spawn near to the center of the board which can be pretty hazardous (unlike the three main paths above which spawn at the edge of the board). There are four possible alternative paths that can start at the beginning of the level. No more than two of these usually show up though, and sometimes they are accompanied by one or more of the three main paths shown above. Here is an approximate location of the four starting paths:
The best strategy for dealing with the introductory wave of asteroids is to stay as stationary as possible; normally, at the start of the level you will appear below Station 2 and inside the "box" above. If you watch the radar, there should be plenty of asteroids to shoot for the first 15-20 seconds without moving too far away. It is also hazardous to fly around because the intro asteroids are spawning in the middle of the board and can just appear out of nowhere, making for an easy collision.
Most people prefer to hold down the space bar for the entire Scoring level. You can do this with your left hand if you steer with your right hand, or you can also place something heavy on the space bar. A few people prefer to press the space bar each time and say it gives them greater accuracy, but I think all three of the ships fire fast enough that it's a much bigger advantage to fire constantly. You also end up hitting more fragments off the screen that way.
Lastly, you get the same amount of points for colliding with an asteroid that you get for shooting it, but I don't recommend making this part of your overall strategy!
Tips for Checkpoint Levels
The best strategy I can give you for Checkpoint levels is to trust the radar and follow my path below. You can shoot during the first two Checkpoint levels, but I wouldn't recommend it unless it's an emergency since it takes a few seconds for smaller asteroid fragments to appear on the radar screen, and that just gives you a bigger chance of running into something.
By visiting the stations in the order of 2-1-4-5-3, I can usually go at full speed and complete each Checkpoint level in about 10 to 15 seconds. I slow down slightly while I'm approaching a station and get ready for the turn. Some people prefer to go backwards between certain stations since it's quicker than turning, but I don't like steering when I am going backwards and I find I have plenty of time without switching directions. For me, it actually takes more time to switch directions since you have to come to a complete stop. Note that you can rotate the ship using the right or left arrow keys and keep moving in a straight line as long as you don't hit the up or down keys. This is a good way to prepare for each turn in advance, and with the bigger ships this also gives you a better chance of hitting each station.
Tips for Delivery Levels
In the first Delivery level, you have to deliver three objects; the other two Delivery levels have four objects each. The game tells you where to pick up a package, and then where to deliver it. You don't get any ammo in the Delivery levels, but I think that is a good thing since shooting asteroids would just give you more things to run into. The best way to stay safe during the Delivery levels is to memorize the three main asteroid paths above (yellow, red, and blue lines). Be extra cautious when visiting Stations 1, 3, and 5 since asteroids spawn near each of those stations. Also be careful of Station 2 during the first 30 seconds of the level since you still have to deal with some of the alternative introductory asteroid paths around the center of the board. Fortunately, Station 4 is usually a very safe area, so if you are running low on time you can usually go a little faster around Station 4. Just keep an eye on the radar screen for the yellow asteroid path above.
Here are some additional tips that have helped me beat the game:
Practice early on. Rather than trying to score 14,000 points only when you reach Level 16, I recommend that you try to score as many points as possible in the early Scoring levels. The only difference between the various Scoring levels is the time limit and the minimum required score since the asteroids are exactly the same. If you can consistently score at least 13,000 points in the Level 1 or Level 2, then you should be able to score at least 14,000 points in Level 16 since it is ten seconds longer. Of course, you may accidentally die a few times on the early levels while you are practicing, but that's a lot better than playing through the entire game and practicing/dying on Level 16! You should also practice doing the first Checkpoint level (Level 3) under 30 seconds so that you are ready when Level 13 rolls around. Having said that, once you are comfortable scoring points and beating the time limits...
Don't overachieve. In Scoring levels, it's a good idea to hang out in a safe zone (discussed previously) once you've exceeded the minimum score requirement. Extra points are meaningless, and you just run the risk of losing more shields. Once I park my ship in a safe spot (I like the Moon Base), I actually go read the forum or do something else until I hear the music indicating the level is over. In Checkpoint and Delivery levels, it's better to be safe than sorry if you have extra time.
Let the asteroids come to you. If you are firing non-stop (as I recommend) in Scoring levels, it is often easier to let the asteroid fragments fly into your stream of fire than to try to precisely hit each one and run the risk of over-steering. Choose an angle where your firing is a little in front of the asteroid and wait for it to get there.
Learn to shoot asteroids off the screen. The radar screen is approximately 1.5 times the size of the window on your screen. There are many times where you can see fragments of an asteroid fly off the screen that are still within shooting range. Visualize the asteroid as if it were still on the screen, and aim accordingly. Or, you can just keep aiming in a straight line and let the asteroid come to you. The only time you can't shoot asteroid fragments is if they go off the edge of the game board.
Trust your radar. The only way to consistently beat the highest Delivery level is to rely on the radar. Most of the time, I don't even pay much attention to what is happening on the screen until I am getting close to one of the stations; instead, I watch the radar screen almost exclusively. Learn to recognize the locations of the three primary asteroid paths on the radar so you can anticipate them and fly through them safely. All asteroids should appear on the radar within seconds after spawning and within a few seconds after you collide with them or shoot them. The radar is also a great way to quickly find where the current asteroid streams are during Scoring levels.
Master your inertia. Blast in Space is a game that relies heavily on inertia. Basically, that means that when you accelerate your ship in a straight line, you will keep going in that direction until you eventually slow down or start accelerating in a different direction. By just practicing the game you will get used to the inertia and how long it takes to slow down. One advanced technique is to realize you can rotate the ship left and right while still traveling in the same direction. As long as you don't hit the up or down arrow keys, you won't switch direction. With the larger ships, sometimes you can use this technique to hit the stations if you are passing near them...rotating the ship will make you wider and improve your chances of touching the station. Another thing to note (thanks GeauxTigers and Greenway) is that when you end a level with a certain amount of inertia, you will start the next level with a similar amount of inertia. Depending on your preference, this can be a benefit or a hazard. I recommend not deliberately starting levels with inertia since it seems unnecessarily dangerous; you can always manually accelerate to top speed quickly if the path is clear.
Learn from your defeats. Before I was able to beat the game consistently, I noticed that I was usually losing for the same reason. If you are constantly losing the game because you run out of time on Scoring levels, you need to improve your ability to locate asteroid streams and your accuracy. If you are constantly losing the game because you explode in a giant fireball each time, you need to lay off the accelerator a bit and work on steering. If you run out of time on Checkpoint or Delivery levels, you need to rely more on the radar and memorize the asteroid paths so you can get around faster and not be overly cautious. And if you still lose the game in every way imaginable, then you just need to play more.