Outer Ridge combines Asteroids with 3D space viewed from the cockpit, similar to Wing Commander. On each level, there is a certain quota of asteroids to destroy before moving on to the next sector. Controls are similar to asteroids, the player can rotate in 720 degrees of direction, and can thrust or fire the weapon. Destroying items releases power-ups such as shield restore, shield doubling, cannons, rockets, Super-S and the Exit (needed to get to the next level). Along with dealing with asteroids, alien enemies show up and must be destroyed.
Asteroids was a simple game with a simple concept: fly around the universe shooting asteroids without getting hit. Its success led to the creation of a number of Asteroid clones over the year; some clones incorporated new features, while other games had very few differences. Outer Ridge took the concept of Asteroids and gave it a new twist: instead of controlling your ship from above, you now control it from the pilot's seat.
Outer Ridge lets you fly your ship through an asteroid field in space. Your mission is to shoot a fixed number of asteroids in each level while not taking too many hits. The frequency of asteroids becomes higher and higher with each passing level, and thus the gameplay becomes much more intense.
Unlike Asteroids and its clones, you always have a shield that absorbs your hits, though it can only take so much abuse. Asteroids that you destroy may contain powerups to repair or improve your shield strength. In later missions, you can find weapon powerups that make destroying asteroids a little easier, though these weapons have limited use. Your score is not determined by the number of asteroids you destroy, but rather how many individual hits you score; thus the player can take advantage of strafing runs on the surface of asteroids to improve his score.
You're not completely out of the woods when you destroy the set number of asteroids in a level; you must find the exit portal, which is hidden within an asteroid. If you find and lose track of an exit portal, you can destroy another asteroid to proceed to the next level. Unfortunately for you, the action does not stop between levels; once your ship enters hyperspace, the speed and frequency of asteroids increases temporarily, and you must shoot and dodge your way to the next level.
When your ship takes too much damage, you lose control of your weapons, flight control, and thrust, as your ship enters a death spiral. As this happens, you wonder if you will see your ship explode in mid-space or become a new stain on a passing asteroid, but none of this happens. Insted, you just spin around almost endlessly, presumably until an asteroid comes to finish you off. If you don't want to wait for that (you could be waiting a while), you can continue by pressing the space bar. You have three chances to continue, but you lose any special weapons you found, and you have to destroy more asteroids to finish the level. This can be frustrating because even if you're in hyperspace, you still have to go back to the level you just finished and destroy more asteroids (you don't begin the next level until you exit hyperspace, so you're technically still in the same level while in hyperspace).
Outer Ridge is a sadly overlooked Asteroids clone that was released as shareware in 1995. Games Domain has the rundown on this old game:
"While it's not Terminal Velocity, or Lemmings 3-D, it's certainly one of the best raytraced action-games I've seen, especially at a ZIP file size of only 969k. It's basically a 3-D cockpit-perspective version of "Asteroids", with *big*, well-raytraced (3D-Studio), metallic-sheened rocks flying in all directions. The "explosion" graphics are better than those in DOOM, and even rival those in ROTT (get the dual cannons in O.R. before you pass judgement here). In addition, the game was designed well enough to run perfectly smoothly; even on slower systems. The game was completely smooth on my 486DX-50, and I can't imagine that it would be much worse on a DX-33. The fast-beating techno soundtrack fits the game perfectly.
The graphics alone make this one worth checking out. If you have any trouble running the game, try booting up with HIMEM/EMM386 rather than QEMM. Outer Ridge is definitely one of the best Asteroids fans :)
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