iPhone App Video Review: Acme Planetary Defense

by Andrew Koziara

Acme Planetary Defense is the debut title of Taptoon Games, and the lack of experience shows through. It's not a bad game by any means, and I rather enjoyed it, but there are some sloppy design elements and lots of little frustrations that pile on during play. The visuals and effects are colorful and vibrant, and the game has a lot of potential, but the design could use some work.

Your job is to defend your tiny planet from an alien onslaught, including asteroids, mutant blobs, and the occasional flying saucer. You do this by launching missiles while rotating around the planet a full 360 degrees. After each wave, you'll spend whatever money you've earned to bolster your defenses, buying and upgrading weapons and defensive systems. These extra weapons and defenses will randomly spawn above the planet in great big crates, which you shoot to activate. Waves seemingly go on endlessly, and by reaching certain wave numbers, you'll unlock the harder difficulty planets. The premise is nice and simple and there are a lot of upgrading options, though the game isn't quite as deep as it appears.

There are only a few weapons that are really worth buying, and some that seem even weaker than your starting missiles. The flak, multi-missile, and laser turret options are all solid, but the enemy seeking seeker turret is surprisingly ineffective, and even the laser isn't very energy efficient for its narrow hit radius. It's best to max out a couple weapons and mostly stick to defensive options, like mines, shields, and orbiting attack satellites. Mostly, I just don't like how the weapons are handled. When you activate a new weapon, it completely replaces your current weapon, with each only available for a limited time. Why can't the other weapons be backlogged, or just switched between with a swipe? Something like an ammo count instead of an arbitrary timer seems like it would've served the game better.

As I said, the visuals are colorful and vibrant, and the game makes for some great eye candy. The soundtrack consists of one looping song, yet the song is so epic and appropriate that you'll barely notice. I do have some issues with the interface, though. All of the menu's have you scroll left and right through the options, which I personally find frustrating and unnecessary. The controls were a tad unresponsive or imprecise on occasion, and didn't ruin the game but was definitely noticeable. No one in the credits takes the title of "Designer," so it makes sense for the art and music to be outstanding, but the design lacking.

To be fair, the game is meant for all ages, and I get the idea of having everything work simply without too many functions or menus, but it needs some work. It all just feels a bit under-developed or rushed, and an extra coat of polish would really help. I am, admittedly, being quite hard on the game. There are just so many tiny flaws that pile up, as I mentioned earlier. The game is not bad, and makes for a great way to kill some time or as entertainment for your kids. It's just not great, either. Acme Planetary Defense is available for one dollar at the time of this review, with an HD version available for two dollars.

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