Review: Smashing Planets
Calling all space cadets, we are not alone, the universe is full of aliens and they want to destroy the Earth! All you have to do is load up Smashing Planets on your Windows Phone device. This arcade action game challenges your reaction times and anticipation skills, in a similar way to how Missile Command did in the good old days of computer gaming. How well does Smashing Planets translate the genre? Read on to find out.
If you weren't gaming in the 80s or 90s then you probably missed out on the classic that was Missile Command. This classic genre tasked you with shooting down a continuous barrage of missiles. The challenge was that your intercepting missiles travelled at a relatively slow speed, as did the enemy munitions. Therefore the challenge was a non-verbal version of the classic math problem of whether two trains would collide after leaving respective destinations at particular times.
It's that process of aiming for where the target will be rather than where it is now that is at the heart of Smashing Planets. Whereas the classic Missile Command had you defending against attacks from the sky. Smashing Planets takes this formula and wraps it around a full 360 degrees as you engage in global defence.
In Smashing Planets, you need to shoot down a never ending fleet of flying saucers. As you progress, the saucers have increasingly fiendish tricks up their sleeve to make them more efficient killing machines. All the while they are working to take pot shots at the Earth, which has its own health bar.
As the operator of Earth's defences, you fire rockets out into space by drawing their trajectory on the screen. This is where we get back to the idea of timing your shots – all of those saucers that need shooting down are (mostly) moving targets, and so you need to set your trajectories for where the target is going to be, not where it is right now.
The game is split into levels and chapters, a structure popularised by Angry Birds, and each level has a star rating for how well you performed. This lends an added degree of longevity as there's a sense of pride that makes you want to go back to achieve that all important three star rating. Your score is dependent on all sorts of factors, as in how many saucers you destroyed, and you are also penalised for every rocket fired. That might sound harsh, you can't exactly avoid firing any rockets, but it serves to encourage you to perfect your accuracy and not just spray and pray.
Progressing to higher levels see both you and your extra-terrestrial adversaries get more advanced weaponry, thus helping to keep gameplay fresh. For example, you soon get the boxing glove rocket which is great for pushing asteroids out of the way or into the path of flying saucers. Subsequent levels also increase the intensity of incoming enemies, pushing your trajectory drawing skills to the limit. This all helps keeps you engaged with the game just as you might begin to feel bored. Also, there is a simple survival mode if you don't want to get embroiled with the campaign mode.
If you're the type of user who still has general difficulty coordinating your touch and gesture inputs, then this game would not be for you. Also, some of the sprites are quite small, so playing on a sub four inch screened device will require good close up vision. If none of this sounds like a problem for you, then Smashing Planets comes recommended for a good deal of frantic arcade action.
You can find Smashing Planets in the AAWP App Directory for £0.79 / $0.99 / €0.99 and with a free trial.
Reviewed by David Gilson at