By: Derek Yu

On: May 20th, 2008


Thrustburst is the first release from Umlautgames, and it’s definitely a strong start for the fledgling team. Your goal in the game is to fly through a narrowing tunnel to seek out the dark heart of a mostly-barren asteroid. Along the way you’ll contend with various automated defenses deployed by the core, as well as the walls of the asteroid itself.

According to the team, the game is based on Urthworm (scroll down), an old DOS game, which is in turn based on SFCave (Java version). Thrustburst, however, adds some rudimentary combat to the mix, which includes an interesting mechanic – in order to power your Energy Shield and Defender Cannon you must skim the tunnel walls without hitting them. As the walls close in deeper into the asteroid and your ship’s speed increases, this becomes a very nerve-wracking and tense prospect.

The art in this game is also pretty phenomenal, and is filled with little details that belie the game’s relatively sparse approach to visuals. And no wonder, the art/design team is headed by Helm and ptoing, whom, I would venture to say, are two of the leading “academics” in the field of pixel arting today. They also help administrate the well-regarded Pixelation forums. Strangely enough, I think this is the first finished (non-commercial) game project I’ve seen them work on (and hopefully not the last).

So yeah, get ready to thrust and burst! (groan)

(Many thanks to Adam for the news! Definitely a pixel ninja in his own right, so check it out.)

  • Xion

    About damn time guys!


  • Xion

    About damn time guys!


  • toastie

    About damn time guys!


  • Derek

    About damn time guys!


  • PHeMoX



  • Anonybomb

    About damn time guys!


  • konjak

    About awe time some!


  • konjak

    By the way, I thought Helm the second I saw those rocks.

  • Lorne

    About time, awesome guys!


  • raigan

    it’s so good in so many ways… i just wish the margin between “skimming” and “hitting” was more clearly defined/easy to see!

  • ian

    I respectfully request that you change the title of this post to OMFGPIXELART!. I was totally ready to skip this game until I saw Helm and ptoing mentioned.


  • Moose

    A DOS game was based on a Java applet? Are you sure!?

  • Daniel

    Wow….this is amazing. This is def. my new addiction!!!

  • Anonymous

    so hard

  • BeamSplashX

    Damn awesome time, guys!


  • PoV

    Strange responding theme! Must play too!


  • Nikica

    AWESOME, congrats to your first game !!!

  • drodlooker

    yeah, recognised helm the moment i saw the screenshot.

  • Pequeño

    Is this XP-only? Or does it work on NT/2k also?

  • Nikica

    @Pequeño, try it.

  • muku

    Works on 2k here.

    It’s extremely hard though, but of the so-frustrating-it’s-addictive variety. Can’t count the times I’ve crashed against the rocks when trying to graze. D’oh! The only medal I’ve earned so far is for being an extremely bad pilot :D

    Plus, a training run without enemies has revealed to me that that damn asteroid is 50 km deep. 50! I haven’t even made it half that far in normal mode…

  • GirlFlash


    ¡s?n? ???? u??p ?noq?

  • GirlFlash

    this game is haaaaaard D:

  • Anonymous

    I’ve reached the core but somehow I still failed. does the game hate me or something?

  • muku

    You have to be fully charged when reaching the core to win. At least that’s what I gather from the readme.

  • MattV

    Amazing art. I’m finding the game too punishing at the moment, I never use the shield because by the time I notice something is about to hit me it’s too late.

    I’d like to see an easy mode where grazing too hard just reduces your energy rather than instant kill and maybe an auto shield that depletes a load of energy?

  • KareemK

    about dayum time son!

    it even works on wine <3

  • Kvalsternacka

    I wasted my lunchbreak on it, damn I’m hungry!


  • Gainsworth

    Wow, its like one of those arcade games, that people get all nostalgic about, and then reminisce on how hard it was, and how it ate their pocket money

    seriously guys, you need to of released this like 20 years ago

    Oh, and its awesome. Well done UMLAUT

  • Melly

    Hard game is muthafucking hard, crap.


  • Muddman

    “two of the leading “academics” in the field of pixel arting today”

    … arse!!

  • bluchunky

    2 leading bigmouths indeed =)
    game looks nice tho

  • Joola

    I like metro siberia more than this. Sorry.

  • pixelmontego

    ?I’m seeing some super nice touch graphics, but were does it the graphics finish?

  • MisterX

    Great game indeed. It’s got a great style and all just seems to fit very well. But the art is far from being the only good thing. I think the sound is also very nice, especially the humming of the engine. Such a sound could easily be annoying but it’s perfectly well here.
    I guess I like the controls and the feeling to them best, though. It’s all nicely dynamic and feels quite natural using an analogue stick. The recoil just adds to this, apart from being a nice game mechanic.
    Just one thing: Please enable me to use the gamepad in the menu. It’s a (small) annoyance having to use the keyboard every time you die and want to restart. And both of the latter happen hell of a lot of times :)

  • Lim-Dul

    Najwy?szy czas ludzie!



  • Tr00jg

    About damn time girls!


  • Xecutor

    About 5 or so years ago after I played Urthworm I wrote this game:
    In Urthworm when you win the game, the score is always the same.
    So XWorm is all about different scoring methods :)

  • shinygerbil

    About damn time, Welles!


  • robolee

    Amazing work guys, great atmosphere, great sounds, great graphics, nice enemies, annoying as hell controls that make me die all the time get pissed off and yet come back for more… AWESOME

    I have died like… 130 times, average lifetime less than a minute, I wish it could auto hover, I am incapable of hovering whilst shooting for some bizarre reason. Also I keep scraping the edge to gain energy (kinda weird, shouldn’t it loose energy?) and never use the shield.

    I like the lighting, the closer you get to a rock the brighter it gets, AWESOME.

  • robolee

    “I am incapable of hovering whilst shooting” because I cannot multi-task, not a problem with the game engine.

  • Benzido

    This is basically a perfect game in my view.

  • cactus

    This game is quite addictive. I love the graphics (how could anyone not love graphics like these?). I find the skimming of the walls a bit too difficult, though, and sometimes my reflexes aren’t good enough to tackle the game’s challenging enemies. I think I’ve gotten fifteen kilometers at best. I really need to play some more :)

  • falsion

    You linked to 3D SF-Cave. Urthworm is based on just plain ol’ SF-Cave (

  • Krux

    my first impression: too hard, but if it would be easyer, I wouldn’t have played it that often, as I have already done.

  • Lailoken

    Wow this game is great. Can’t think of anything I would change. Its a lot easier to scrape the ceiling if you are moving fast, just let the little tail-flipper thing scrape it.

    50km, damn. And here I thought I was close at 28…

  • ptoing

    We are all really happy that so many people like the game :)

    Thanks everyone.