Now I know you may be thinking to yourself “hey, isn’t Air Supply a washed up 80s rock band?” Well, that may be true, but it’s also the name of what is quickly becoming my favorite “run as long as you can” style game. What’s amazing is that it’s not a whole lot different than many of the other top tier running games, though its main gimmick is quite interesting. What this game really does to hook you in is present you with a whole lot of options that can only be unlocked by continually playing the game. I know it’s got me trapped!
You start the game out as Sam, and your objective is simply to keep running, shooting everything evil that crosses your path. You don’t control the running, so all you have to worry about it tapping to jump (tapping twice will double jump) and tapping somewhere else to shoot. Ammunition is unlimited, though you only get one type of gun to play with. On the other hand, what’s not unlimited is your air supply, hence the title of the game. You start out with 8 units of air which slowly get used up. Along the way you can pick up units of air, and if you’re real lucky you’ll get a tank that will fill up your air supply. If you get hit by enemies or their weapons you’ll lose air as well. When the supply is gone, so are you.
In addition to units of air you can also pick up shields, which will temporarily protect you from anything on the screen. There are “slow down” items as well, though, they don’t really seem to do all that much. Finally, there are stars that you can collect along the way. Stars are important because they allow you to unlock additional characters to play with. Collecting air, in addition to keeping you alive, will help you unlock different musical tracks. The number of kills both increases your rank and unlocks various color schemes (and by “schemes” I mean changing from one basic color to another), and your mileage run will unlock different stages in the game. This is the toughest one, because you have to put in a lot of distance to unlock new levels.
I’m not normally a fan of games that make such heavy use of unlockable items, but in this scenario it actually works quite nicely. I will say, however, that it gets frustrating sometimes when I run through whole levels without ever seeing a star. Also, there are times where it seems like I get hit even though it doesn’t look like I actually touched anything. I assume it’s a collision problem, but it can still be annoying, especially when my air is low. The next thing I’d like to see is the ability to switch options without going back to the main menu and pressing start. That may not be possible, but if so it would be nice. Finally, something explaining the differences between characters would be nice. I can guess with the two I’ve got available so far, but seeing it spelled out is always a benefit.
The graphics in Air Supply are deliciously retro. And I’m not talking about that garbage where people draw really poor graphics and call it “old school”. It’s clear that a lot of effort was put into making the graphics look like they belong on a pre-NES console. What it proves to me is that such graphics could actually look pretty cool! I also love how everything is silhouettes and lines so that you can actually have a setting that changes the color. Genius! The only issue I’ve had so far is that the alien city theme, which is the first theme you unlock, is kind of hard on my eyes. It still looks cool but it is just hard to stare at after a while.
The music is a bit more upscale, weighing in at roughly the NES era of consoles and computing. As you collect air units you’ll be able to unlock different tracks, and so far every one (I have 4 available) has been enjoyable. The sound effects also have a retro feel to them, which isn’t nearly as impressive, but with the cool music, who cares about the sound effects?
The bottom line is that this game rocks! As it is I’ve become strangely drawn to this genre of game, but Air Supply has kicked my obsession to a new level. I love the look, I love the music, and I love trying to unlock all the unlockables. There are a few minor things I’d like to see get cleaned up as I mentioned previously, but those items in no way hamper my enjoyment of the game. If you do not own this gem yet, go out and buy it now. Long develop Quantum Sheep!