Eschewing the classic pixel art we are used to seeing in favor of a more spacey, out of this world appearance, Nitrome delivers yet another original and engaging platformer unlike any you may have played before.
The objective in Space Hopper is to find and collect all of the stars scattered about each level. Collecting them all will open a warp gate that unlocks the next level and takes you to it. You will need to navigate by "hopping" across a system of moving planets, orbiting moons and yes, even death stars, to find them all.
Control is with the arrow keys only: use the [right] arrow key to move clockwise; use the [left] arrow to move counter-clockwise. Press [up] arrow to jump. Jumping when another planet is close enough will catch its gravity and pull you over to it, reorienting you in the process. Some planets have different properties, so you will need to be careful and adjust your movements accordingly.
As levels progress, various elements are introduced that make the navigation and star collection more difficult. You are given unlimited time with which to complete a level, but you have only 4 hearts to your health meter. Coming in contact with an element other than a planet will most certainly harm you and reduce your health meter by 1. Use up all health and you will have to restart the level from the beginning.
There are 15 unlockable levels to this amazing and addictive game. Simple enough to pick-up and play right away, and yet just the right amount of difficulty added to make beating a level very gratifying. And for those of you looking for an even greater challenge, collect the red stars of each level in order for bonus points.
Analysis: Space Hopper is another Nitrome classic and a lot of fun to play. The gameplay and physics feel polished, and the art direction, even though a departure from the characteristic pixel graphics, fits the gameplay very nicely. I am consistently impressed to see Mat and Heather come up with something completely different each time they release a new game, and Space Hopper does not disappoint in that regard.
There isn't much to nitpick here, but I will mention that any game of this calibre should support configurable keys for control. Not everyone has the same keyboard, and not everyone is right-handed. Also, before the end of the 3rd level I was reaching for the music off button. At first I enjoyed the music, but the same loop is used for every level and it becomes annoying after a while. The same can be said for the sound effects. A little variation in sounds that occur frequently can make a huge difference and provide greater mileage for these important assets.
So button up those space boots and get hopping!