As a fan of both 2D platformers and science fiction, I was drawn to Shuttle Rush.  The action unfolds on an alien space station, where you’re trying to escape the hostile natives while also surviving a serious air shortage.  The game’s quite difficult, though whether or not the challenge is well implemented is very debatable.

Shuttle Rush - Bob

Your biggest obstacles in this game are enemies, level layouts, and above all else time.  The latter is recorded as oxygen, and once it hits zero you’re done for.  Oxygen vending machines can replenish you, but they’re scarce while requiring the use of scattered coins.  As far as the enemies go, they aren’t especially smart, but the lack of any real hit recovery time and the fact that they can’t be eliminated makes them a nuisance all the same.  Meanwhile maze like environments make it fairly easy to get stuck.  Backtracking is also an absolute must, especially when required to search out switches to unlock random doors.  In truth it’s a bit much for what this game’s trying to accomplish.

I feel the level design could truly be quite good if not for the strict timer.  Because of it however there’s little chance for enjoyment – being forced to scamper about, and the necessity to memorize means you’ll soon grow tired of even the best designed levels.  Success for me brought less a sense of satisfaction, and more relief at finally moving on.

Shuttle Rush level

Having said that though, Shuttle Rush actually does much very well.  The first thing catching my attention was the awesome music.  The tunes are great, definitely making the trial and error gameplay easier to bear.  Another plus is the visuals, which display some attractive sprite work and nice background scenery.  Space games can often be dark and drab, but this is a colorful affair.

The GamePad displays maps during play, which help albeit not as much as you’d think.  Having to always race the clock, I found it tough tearing my eyes away from the television to look down.  Curiously the map disappears during off TV-play – I was hoping my wife could watch along and direct me around the mazes, but it’s not possible.  Controls can be slightly loose at times, but overall are pretty solid for a game demanding precision and speed.  Even better, there are options to suit everyone with a large number of controllers supported.  I appreciate the choices!

There’s a medal system providing replay incentive for those up for it, and records are saved for each successful run.  Leaderboards are also included as a welcomed addition.  Even little touches like quick 3 second countdowns after unpausing to help get bearings, reflect favorably on the project.  Again, Shuttle Rush does much well.

Shuttle Rush - early level

I’m torn on this game.  Truthfully I don’t find it nearly as enjoyable as first hoped, and thus haven’t spent as much time with it as anticipated.  I can’t help but think Shuttle Rush is difficult for the wrong reasons.  I feel like I’m playing the bonus time trials of a fully fledged platformer!  I’ve real doubts if the dominant factor of restrictive time is strong enough to carry a game like this.  I think it does it a disservice.  Time trials in maze style settings may limit the game’s audience.

There’s a good download here, but it’s buried under questionable level design. There are reasons so many action adventure platforming games use time challenges as optional elements only!  Shuttle Rush has an inviting look that seems to encourage exploration – sadly it’s impractical.  I’d like to see a reshaping of elements as there’s untapped potential here.  I hope Takusan Works ropes in their focus, and turns Shuttle Rush into the platformer proper it deserves to be.   In the meantime this game is still well worth a look for some, but probably wait for a sale.

Shuttle Rush feature image