Spaceman 2023 doesn't really have a set storyline, but the basic idea that is inferred throughout the gameplay is to eliminate the monsters or aliens and save the other human astronauts. While the controls are pretty straightforward, there are hints along the way in the form of a silhouette of the astronaut performing the necessary movement. Even with these helpful tidbits, the game does get rather difficult as the levels progress.
Gameplay is simple: you use your weapons to eliminate the targets. You have the option of choosing different weapons that are available to you for different purposes. There are rockets, grenades, guns, a knife and even useful items such as an air balloon and a jet pack. You can't move the main player with the directional pad, only with a special use item that allows him to transport one time, so there are understandings of physics that are involved in order to reach the goal. One especially important principle in this game is the understanding of arc and distance. There are some platforms that must be destroyed carefully, ice for example, without destroying the main astronaut. There are other obstacles, like barrels of TNT, which also need to be dealt with carefully.
Overall, this game is appropriate for older children and adults, but could be used as a learning tool for students' science classes when the lesson is physics and velocity. It is a bit too advanced for children under the age of eight or so, unless they are starting to grasp some of the relevant concepts.The levels are definitely puzzling, but they can be restarted at any time. It is definitely not mindless - it involves careful planning and clearly-formulated thought processes. Not necessarily something you would want to use to waste time, but definitely a good game to help get your brain juices flowing!