PC remake of the Atari ST Freeware smash. Exclusive to RGCD!
Originally released back in 1990, Nova was one of the more popular freeware releases available for the Atari ST range of machines. Although the game is essentially a basic shoot 'em up, its high octane speed and commercial quality sprite graphics (for the time) stood it apart from the others available through public domain libraries and BBS boards.
The game comprises of a series of 15 unique stages (or enemy waves), each requiring a different strategy for defeating. The game-play itself is relatively simple; as with the arcade shooters of old there are no power-ups and your ship only takes one hit to destroy. The destruction of your ship results in the current wave being reset, meaning that in order to progress to the next stage you must defeat each enemy wave without being shot. Although this old-school game progression method is unlikely to be popular with new gamers, it does give Nova an authentic arcade feel.
I came across an earlier build of this PC remake by Kostas Nakos whilst trawling through the demo archives at www.pouet.net and was immediately impressed at how true the game was to the original. Everything from the Atari version was left intact, from the low resolution pixel art through to the game speed and enemy attack patterns, the only differences being minor graphical tweaks and the addition of in game music (which the original lacked).
The only issue preventing this earlier version of Nova getting an official release amongst the remakes community was the lack of any proper sound effects. However upon contacting Kostas as a Nova enthusiast and volunteering to provide suitable (albeit ripped) audio, he kindly agreed to recompile the game and here you have it - a RGCD exclusive and the first remake that I've had any creative involvement with.
So, how does the remake compare to the original? As stated above, the remake essentially stays true to the Atari version, but the small additions really make a difference. For this reason Nova is likely to be popular amongst fans of the original, but its unforgiving level progression method may mean that it's just too hard for today's generation of gamers and casual players.
Aside from this, the only real flaw that Nova has is the lack of joystick/pad support (instead the game is played via the cursor and control keys). Also, although the intro tune is suitably retro, I personally thought that the actual in-game music (a slap-bass and synth affair) was an odd choice for a shoot 'em up - but as stated previously, any music is an improvement over the silence of the original.
In conclusion, if you have fond memories of the original incarnation of Nova then you'll most likely enjoy playing this enhanced PC remake. There is nothing ground breaking here, but the game is well coded and retains the addictive one-more-go nature of the Atari PD classic.