College, money, credit cards, loans, debt, and eventually retirement, are in ways, a rite of passage for the everyday American Citizen. In high school, we are all taught to reach for the stars and become the very person we want to be. We then go through the exciting process of college selection, college rejection, and college acceptance. From that point on, we go through the journey of college life, where exams, parties, relationships, and work assignments become a tireless adventure in itself. But, when all is said and done, and you receive a diploma, you are no longer a student. Gone is the shield of comfort and the flexibility to mitigate silly mistakes. From that point on, you are in the real world.
You have a crushing loan to pay back, a career to build, and debts to pay from using that credit card. Some of us take whatever job we can find and hope to build from there, while others take to other measures, such as AmeriCorps or the United Starts Armed Forces. While this is the reality of the real-world, it is also a reality in Blue-Collared Astronaut, from one-man video game developer Mutated Software.
Blue-collared astronaut is a space flight game inspired by games such as lunar lander. Players will pilot a spacecraft and trek across the galaxy, performing a variety of basic jobs necessary for the human race to function in space. This can be akin to the vibes and culture featured in Dirty Jobs, with Mike Rowe. You will earn money, pay off your debts, use your credit, and hopefully, pay off your loan just in time for retirement. The end results of these jobs depend on how players perform on each mission. These missions include delivering pizza, transporting cargo like a trucker, towing a space cruise liner, and even delivering timed explosives to an astronaut set to destroy an innocent alien home world.
As an astronaut who just graduated from the academy, you have now earned your degree in space flight. However, now you have a crushing debt that needs to be paid off from the loans you took out. Additionally, you have credit card bills to pay off. This debt further increases should you choose to receive your Master’s degree, and eventually, your doctorates. The academy teaches players the basics of maneuvering their ship, as well as how to control the ship in regards the game’s space physics. After a few short levels, you have graduated, and you are off to perform these important jobs.
Playing the game felt fun, refreshing, and a nice throwback to simpler games. Mutated Software created the entire game, from the visual presentation to the solid soundtrack. Coupled with the gameplay, I couldn’t help but chuckle a few times and smile quite a bit, even as the game features a hefty challenge, for those that wish to pursue the gold medal. As the game pokes good fun at capitalism, expect to see humorous advertisements and looney descriptions of upgrades for your ship.
Later on, players can go to a shop and purchase a variety of upgrades to further enhances their ship. Of course, this may max out your credit line or increase your loans debt, but also, improve your craft capabilities and the chances of gaining a gold medal rating for any particular mission.
With many missions to choose from, each mission is its own unique challenge and is very varied depending on the situation. Despite the difficulty, the game felt fun, which is most important for a game such as this. While the game controls, and the physics, can become sluggish and tough, it nonetheless kept me hooked into the game, constantly giving me a “one more try” feel to the gameplay. Coupled with a solid music composition, Blue Collared Astronaut is a nice experience.
Part of my enjoyment also comes from a relevance into the real world and my own life. The writer of this review, which is me, is a college graduate, having earned his Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design, as well as a Bachelor’s of Fine Art In graphic design. Additionally, I performed multiple unpaid internships, including a 6-month internship at Disney World, along with various volunteer and service projects. The result is not what this writer had planned.
Finding a graphic design job is extraordinarily difficult, and I have had to resort to jobs, not within my parameters of study. This included knocking on doors to sign petitions with Clean Water Action and being a weekend-only museum docent at a children’s museum. Currently, I am a lifeguard, with ambitions to go fulltime as a water-instructor as well. There is a loan to pay and a financial foundation to build. It has not been easy and has, at times, bean crushing. At the same time, like the game, there is the eventual success and taking enjoyment in what you do. Like the game, if you keep working hard, you are bound to find what works best for you.
If there is any one gripe about Blue Collared Astronaut, it is the repetition of the game. I’ m surprised there weren’t any other avenues for jobs, such as garbage disposal, armed extraterrestrial defense, coffee barista, or VIP driver. I feel adding more to the game, and these particular parameters would have been more reflective of the kind of real-world shock that students face when graduating college. The game is enjoyable in short doses versus long, prolonged play as the repetition can sink in and disinterest players in the game.