MACE, which stands for Military Alliance of Common Earth, is a great take on classic gaming. I'm a sucker for the classics, as it takes me back a couple of decades to my youth (geez, am I aging myself enough?). Since I don't have my old Atari to play them on anymore; I tend to find flash versions of the classics online on my PC. Being a particular fan of classic space shooter games, like Galaga or R-Type, MACE is right up my alley. This is especially true since I can take it with me on my BlackBerry 10 Smartphone rather than carrying pockets full of quarters and going to an arcade.

You enter a world sometime after the year 2054, when the Earth was invaded by Aliens. The people of Earth band together in a military fashion to push back these invaders and protect humanity from future invasions. Who wouldn't want take the fight to the stars in top scrolling, 2D graphic gameplay? Are you up to the challenge?

MACE is an Android port and was originally developed for Amiga OS4. It features hand drawn graphics that are stunningly captured and offers a great 3D feel in 2D fashion. Your objective is to navigate your way through 18 levels of various enemy ships, stations and asteroids to defeat the 3 game bosses and prevent a future attack on earth. Your spaceship is initially equipped with a single front firing gun, 3 bombs, and 5 lives, but you have the chance to pick up upgrades for your gun along the way from destroyed enemies that includes lasers, plasma shots and sonics. There are also special items that are temporary (shields), used replenish your health, lives, or bombs, and for single use, such as rockets.

Controls are dead simple in MACE; no directional pad, no fire button for you mash repeatedly. The gun is set to continuous auto rapid fire mode as you move your ship, which makes sense if you're flying solo and head first into a fleet of hostile enemy ships. All you need to do is drag your finger and thumb across the screen to navigate your ship around enemies, asteroids and enemy gunfire. What I liked is that the developer placed the bomb buttons on both the left and right bottom corner of the screen, making them easily accessible for both right and left handed people. At the top of the screen you'll see your health bar with your number of lives displayed just above. Your score is displayed at the top left corner and the pause button is at the top right. This leaves the screen open for you to enjoy this beautifully designed game.

The responsiveness to my sometimes frantic movement was impressive, as although the virtual pilot in my ship was probably throwing up from the motion sickness I caused, there was almost no lagging behind my finger. Nor did I see a drastic slowing down in game play when there were a fair amount of action on the screen. Besides the great graphics, the sound effects and soundtrack were a pleasant fit for the game, much better than an early test I found for Amiga OS4.

The Good

MACE offers up gorgeous graphics, fluid response to controls and great audio. The ability to find upgrades and top ups keeps the game play fresh as you fly through level after level. No lag, no choppy animation, just a simplistic yet beautiful romp through space, with aliens and death mixed in.

The Bad

Although the game offers up 3 levels of difficulty, I still initially found the easy setting to be friggin hard! This could be me just being out of practice but perhaps offering up more frequent upgrade or top ups on the easier setting could be something to think about for a future update. The game features state there are achievements and online high scores but both of which are absent on the BlackBerry 10 version.

The bottomline

If you're looking for that classic space shooter game for your BlackBerry 10 smartphone, you should definitely have a look at MACE. At $1.99, it's an addicting game and a great value. Though the concept is simple, as is the game type, the game play and graphics are anything but boring. Whether you devote hours to saving the Earth, or just a few minutes on your break, this game is one that you'll be going back to again and again. The developer, EntwicklerX, has also recently released what I consider a companion game; MACE tower defense. I'll be looking at it in a future review. Check both out in BlackBerry World so you can take fight the alien baddies on Earth and in space! Both are available for the Z10, Z30, Z3, PlayBook and the Porsche Design P9982.

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