A few years ago, a cool 8-bit style game hit mobile devices known as Astro Duel, and since that day the market has seen a few other iterations, including a stripped-down version for the iPhone known as Astro Party. Soon after that, the Apple TV received its own version which allowed you to use the Siri Remote to play it on your TV, named Astro Remote.

This year we’re graced with yet another version of the game, this time for the Nintendo Switch, not named Astro Switch as I’d expect, but named Astro Duel Deluxe. If you’ve never played the game (or even heard of it) before, the easiest way to describe it, it’s a multiplayer top-down arena shooter, which reminds me a lot of old multiplayer Atari games like Galaga and Asteroid, but obviously spruced up quite a bit. Astro Duel Deluxe is developed by Wild Rooster and published by Panicbutton Games.

Gameplay

If you’ve ever played the old Arcade game Asteroid then you’ll be in your element right here. The principal of the game is the same, you move your ship around and your mission is to survive while destroying everything else in your path. You can play with anywhere from 1-6 players depending on the game mode, and you can always choose to fill these player slots with AI. If you blow up asteroids, you can get different power-ups that allow you to wreck havoc on your opposition. It’s a lot of fun.

You have three main game modes; Classic, Party, and Chaos. In Classic mode, you can have anywhere from 1-4 players, and it’s described as ‘Safe Spawns’ and ‘Balanced Gameplay.’ Party mode adds a level of difficulty in that everyone uses the same Switch console. Limited to touch controls and only being able to turn right, this mode has up to 4 player support, and as you can imagine, hilarity ensues. The last game mode, Chaos, pits 1-6 players against each other with ‘Close Spawns’, and ‘More Powerups’ so things can get dicey very quickly.

Each game mode allows you to choose from different game types; Ship Hunters, Pilot Hunters, Team Deathmatch, and Team Annihilation. Each is exactly what you think it is, Ship Hunters has you blowing up ships, Pilot Hunters has you blowing up pilots, and in the Team modes, you do exactly the same thing but with a teammate. It’s a whole lot of fun, and if you ever find yourself hosting a party where people are scrambling to find something to do, you can quickly whip this game out and save the day.

The multiplayer support in this game is truly phenomenal. I played locally with my girlfriend and both of us found the controls intuitive, even though I had played for a few hours beforehand, she still managed to beat me up multiple times. Later on, I managed to wrangle up two other people and we played the Party mode and hilarity ensued. Astro Duel Deluxe offers a local multiplayer option however it doesn’t have an online multiplayer mode, which is a missed opportunity! 

Presentation

In a world where 8-bit graphics are often considered a thing of the past, Astro Duel Deluxe shows us that there is still a place for this beautiful style. Like I mentioned earlier, if you’ve played the arcade game Asteroid, you’ll find yourself at home because the graphical style is very similar and it does an extremely good job of giving a sense of nostalgia, and relevant in an era of modern day gaming.

You play as a small triangle-shaped ship and fly around a pixelated world trying to find victory amongst evil asteroids and nefarious ships which mean to do you harm. It’s quirky, and this just adds to the appeal of the game itself. I haven’t had this much fun losing in such a long time because the beauty (yes, beauty) of the game shines with its minimalistic level designs.

The deluxe version of the game offers a range variety of improvements including new modes and multiplayer support for up to 6 players rather than just 4. This allows you to bring the fun to more people at once, making this one of the best multiplayer games for Switch.

Conclusion

In our modern day world where gaming can sometimes be about which game looks the prettiest instead of its gameplay, Astro Duel Deluxe is a strong reminder that it doesn’t always have to be that way. Pixel-based gaming can still shine bright and be enjoyable. Astro Duel Deluxe joins the e-Shop library for Nintendo Switch on May 30th for $14.99.