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1982 is a blast, and it's free

Retro arcade shooter offers nostalgia and challenges

Binary Zoo

I'm old enough to remember the year 1982. It was a time of skipping school to hang out in grubby arcades, playing classics like Pac-Man, Galaga, Asteroids, Defender and Centipede.

So I got a huge kick out of playing a new game, free on Steam, called 1982. On the face of it, the Binary Zoo shooter is a straight-up Space Invaders clone, but it soon becomes apparent that there's a lot more going on.

Many of its sprites pay homage to games of the past with Pac-Men looming above space camels. Mechanics are all thrown in together with Galaxian-style baddies swooping down, and asteroids that break apart when shot. There's even a Defender-style lander that picks up stuff from the ground.

As well as a pleasing color palette and a lovely soundtrack, the designers threw in tons of bonuses and extras, including devastating smart bombs that kill everything that comes close, and health upgrades offering precious extended life.

Playing in easy mode is the best way to get to see as much of this nostalgia-fest as possible, but those of you who enjoy a challenge will at least want to try the brutality of hard mode.