Starfighter Research and Development is a modern day re-imagining of Galaga, but this time, you are head of R&D for a failing starfighter factory. Starting off with a simple cockpit with a laser cannon, you run simulations and test new designs.
There are two main sections to the game, the Galaga section, where you fly your spaceship through consecutive waves of enemy fighters, collecting points to upgrade your ship for next time. Every few rounds there are boss fights, which are much harder but have large payouts of points. Scattered around also are asteroid fields, which are actually very difficult to get through without some fast firing weapons. Destroyed enemies sometimes drop credits, which can be picked up and used to purchase boosts. Research points are earned over time and are used to upgrade your ship.
There are three parts to your craft, the central cockpit which you are in and the last part to be destroyed. A weapon on this part will often fire straight forward and have little to no lateral movement. Wings, unsurprisingly go on the outside of your ship and have a wider range of movement, often with manual aiming capability. Orbs float in a circle around your ship and have some funky stuff going on with them, such as lasers that do spiral patterns towards the target and auto aiming lasers. Damage to your ship is first dealt to the orbs, then the wings and finally the cockpit. This means as the game goes on you’ll lose your powerful weapons, making you both more vulnerable to attacks but weaker as well.
There are currently 4 types of weapons, with different tiers unlocked over time. There are various levels of lasers, ranging from singles shots all the way up to machine guns, some of which are aimed by the mouse and others simply shoot forwards. There are a few orbs which have auto-aiming capability, though they are often inaccurate due to the craft moving and the long distances involved.
When starting a simulation you can purchase boosts for a couple of credits. Speed and damage boosts both cost a single credit, but a 20 hit point shield will set you back 3 credits. While the damage boost just means you can take down enemies quicker, the shield boost is actually quite powerful, as it means you can take shots without losing bits of your ship, making “ramming speed” a viable strategy.
The speed boost accelerates your ship up to speeds I would have wanted the standard craft to reach. Dodging and weaving through enemy fire is something I have always enjoyed in this genre and having to purchase a boost to do this cheapens the experience and turns the game into some sort of a shooting gallery, staying back and flooding the screen with bullets.
The graphics are something of a pickle point, with a mix between a good old retro 8-bit style and some high resolution images which create a confusing juxtaposition. Either artistic design could work well for this game, though personally I do think a simpler style would look and feel better.
Starfighter: Research And Development doesn’t feel like a long term game. While there are many many waves of enemies to beat, within around 4/5 hours you can easily unlock every upgrade and from then on it juts a straight up top down shooter. Hopefully as this game gets further development long term goals can be introduced.
A unified art style is the only obvious improvement I can offer to this game, other than continuing in the same direction and expanding out the game.