Retrobooster Instructions

This page explains how to play Retrobooster. To troubleshoot problems, please see the FAQ.

How to play

Use arrow keys to navigate menus, Enter to select a menu item, and Esc to back out of a menu.

Using the menu screens, start the Tutorial or a New Game. You can also select a saved game slot. Your game will be automatically saved each time you beat a level and you can select Resume Game to continue it.

Fly your thrust ship, rescue survivors, destroy anything that tries to hurt you, and find your way to the end of each level. On some levels it is not readily apparent how to escape, and you will need to find the way out. For example, you may need to rescue some survivors or solve a puzzle that the evil aliens have constructed.

This is a survival shooter game, so most players will be challenged to survive all the levels. It is also a challenging game of skill, so you will get better and better as you hone your flying and shooting skills. As you master the controls you may want to play for high scores.


Retrobooster can be controlled with keyboard only, mouse and keyboard combined, or a USB game controller. Game controllers are not hot-swappable, so if you plug one into your computer you will need to restart Retrobooster for it to be detected. Controls can be customized using the Controls menu.

At any time during play, press the Esc key to pause the game and show a menu of options.

Universal controls

Use any of these key commands while Retrobooster is running.
Key Function
Esc Pause game and display menu.
F1 Toggle frames-per-second (FPS) meter in the upper-right corner.
Alt + Enter Switch between fullscreen and windowed modes. This feature is slightly unreliable and may be removed from the final version of Retrobooster. For now, I want to see what testers think of it. Do you prefer to play in windowed mode for some reason?

Default mouse and keyboard settings

Rotate your ship by moving the mouse left and right. (Moving the mouse forward and back has no effect.)
thrust forward up arrow key left mouse button
thrust backward down arrow key right mouse button
rotate left left arrow key
rotate right right arrow key
fire main weapon f
fire secondary weapon d
next main weapon g mouse wheel up
previous main weapon v
next secondary weapon s mouse wheel down
previous secondary weapon x
select specific weapon 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0

Default USB game controller settings

Game controllers come in many styles with different numbers of inputs. Therefore, it is impossible to describe default settings for all game controllers. Retrobooster recognizes some popular game controllers and initializes with sensible default controls. Your game controller may or may not be recognized. If the default controls for your game controller are not satisfactory, you can configure them in the Controls menu.

Controls menu

Use this menu to assign specific input devices to each player. If you want to customize the controls for an input device, click the Configure button beneath the device name.

On the device configuration screen, click on a specific input that you want to change and it will begin flashing. If you are configuring keyboard and mouse, press a keyboard key or mouse button. If you are configuring a game controller, press a button, d-pad, or axis on the controller. If you want to leave the control input empty, press Esc.

When configuring the keyboard and mouse, you can also adjust the mouse sensitivity.

When configuring a game controller, you can also select an axis to assign to thrust and an axis to assign to rotation.