Captain Cowboy ($2.99) by Wadonk AB is a puzzle adventure game that is set in the far reaches of space. If you enjoy digging, diamonds, and mazes, then Captain Cowboy is the game for you. If you liked titles like Caves n’ Chasms or Doug Dug, then chances are high that you’ll get a kick out of Captain Cowboy.
Since I grew up in the golden age of gaming, which included many pixelated classics, I am rather fond of any modern title that makes use of retro graphics and style. As a child, there was nothing that could make me as happy as playing some video games on my NES or Sega Genesis consoles that I previously had. And then when I got my first computer, I was in impressed with those old-school CRT monitors that I thought were amazing at the time. So naturally, when you combine all of these things together, you’ll end up with something that brings back a huge sense of nostalgia for me, and that is just what Captain Cowboy has done.
The visuals in Captain Cowboy are a blast from the past, complete with the 8-bit pixelated graphics and the CRT-style overlay. With both of these effects, I truly feel as if I’m looking at something that I grew up with back in the ’90s. The colors in the game range from pitch black backgrounds that are sprinkled with bright white stars to bright and vivid rocks and dirt once you are on an asteroid maze. To complete the retro feeling, the game even uses the standard font that you used to see on CRT monitors, which is a nice touch. Animations in the game are smooth and fluid, and the chiptune soundtrack is rather delightful.
In Captain Cowboy, there’s only one game mode, and that is to see how many points you can rack up as you try and find your way off an asteroid labyrinth. While you’re on the asteroids, though, there are plenty of shiny diamonds to collect, which equal a point each. I know — it seems easy to get points, as all you have to do is collect those bright little diamonds that are as big as Captain Cowboy himself. But don’t let greed get the best of you, as you must pay attention to your surroundings to avoid death. There are rocks that are scattered all over the asteroid, just like the diamonds, but due to the laws of physics, they will fall if there’s an open space underneath them. Later on in the game, you’ll also encounter the dangerous Gnurfs, motion-sensitive laser turrets, underwater caverns, and plenty of other obstacles. Oh, and don’t forget about the friendly Snorkhogs, who can help you out on your journey by selling you useful items.
The controls in Captain Cowboy are simple and straightforward. Just swipe your finger on the screen in the direction you want to move to. Optionally, you can also tap to move, but I found that this was a bit glitchy and got stuck in one direction often (perhaps by design?), so I would just stick with swiping. Captain Cowboy will dig his way through dirt automatically as he encounters it, but again, watch out for the rocks, as they do like to fall and squish him if you don’t move out of the way. You can set bombs to get rid of heavy-duty obstacles, but make sure you don’t blow yourself up in the process. As you jump off edges of the screen and move into a new area, it can be easy to get lost as you try and find the exit warp room. If you get lost, just tap on the map button in the top right corner, adjacent to the bomb, and you’ll see the map to help you get back on track on where to go.
All of the rooms in Captain Cowboy are handcrafted, and it takes practice and a bit of good memory to survive in this world. I do wish that each run was randomly generated, though, as it would definitely shake things up a bit, but I can understand why this is not the case, as there is already a sense of structure to the asteroid maze. Still, it will take time to learn the paths and find the exit room while trying to collect as many diamonds as you can before meeting your end, so at least you’ll be getting your money’s worth.
I’ve been playing Captain Cowboy during the morning, and while I’m not too far in it yet, it’s still proving to be rather enjoyable. I love the old-school graphics and music, the controls are intuitive (though tapping should be better optimized), and the gameplay itself is simple but challenging. Captain Cowboy is a good time waster, and the best part is the fact that there are no in-app purchases or annoying tutorials,, so it’s just you and the game.