well, apparently i just suck a lot, because i messed up map3 on ethergrind. python’s dom chokes on it because of some malformed xml. here is a fixed copy of the xml for those of you with nerves of steel who can make it that far. drop it in the /maps directory. alternatively, i’ve just gone ahead and fixed the download link from the original post; feel free to disregard levels 3-5 if you wish when you vote.
also, you’ll be happy to know that it IS beatable. many levels, however, took me several playthroughs; notably level 2 and level 3 are fiendishly difficult. some tips:
level 2: use speed and boost through the level until you reach the last grinder. take out the turrets first and let the enemy ships you’ve dodged come back. destroy them all before trying the boss. make sure to take out the cannons before you fight the boss.
level 3: just power through with speed. this is just really hard.
level 4: for the asteroid area, concentrate on going slowly and eliminating all enemies as they appear. when you get to the grinders, dodge like hell.
level 5: make sure to pick up all of the powerups. it will give you enough to get a shield. when you get to the boss, fly straight through him (losing your shield) and keep going until there is enough space for you to deal with the enemy ships. then fly to the top and bottom of the screen and take out the turrets before engaging the boss. it’s very, very hard. good luck.
thanks for the comments, guys, all the games i’ve played are top notch. congrats to everybody!