Planet Crashers is a light RPG on the eShop, developed by Renegade Kid (of Mutant Mudds). When we hear the term RPG, we expect a massive world filled with detailed characters and massive and powerful story. Planet Crashers comes off as something a bit different, but the question that remains is, is it the good kind of different?
Upon starting up the game for the first time and creating your character, you can notice the graphical theme that the game was going for – funny, hilarious and lively. I found this, along with the game’s soundtrack to contribute to making the objects in-game to be lively personality. However at the same time, I couldn’t but help but find most of the hero’s available looks to choose from to be contradictory to the image painted by the story: “one of the youngest and brightest cadets to graduate from the esteemed Planet Crashers Academy” assigned to save the galaxy. While character customization optimizations available are some what detailed (hair, eyes, mouth, gender, skin color and clothing), many of them made the character look more of a mischievous prankster than a hero.
As soon as you begin your single-player adventure, you are briefed with the issue at hand, the story. An unknown evil from a dark corner of the galaxy wishes to put out the sun. As one of the most of brilliant and youngest graduates of the academy, you’ve been tasked with the mission of saving the galaxy. As soon as you step out of your house and begin exploring your home planet, “Lushy Greeny”, the way the game presents itself can be seen clearly. Characters look similarly to yours, funny and lively and the world is filled with various objects. The enemies you’ll find in dungeons look the same way, and the simple soundtrack maintains a cheery simple feel at all times. To top it off, the 3D graphics feature of the console compliments the rotating globe view of the game. One some issue I found with the interface was when buying items at shops. The game doesn’t allow you to purchase multiple items at once, nor does it show how many items you currently have onscreen.
The game relies heavily on a quest system to push you through the adventure. Quests are mainly assigned through the billboard in front of your house or by accepting one from a quest giver on the planet. Quests from quest givers will typically require you to be at a certain level or above. Generally, quests involve finding a lost item or person from a dungeon or defeating an enemy in the dungeon. The problem here is that those quests began to feel repetitive after a while. While it sounds like a good way to push people along the game and carry on the adventure, there are two huge flaws in this system. Firstly, you can basically only carry out on quest at a time. Upon completing a specific quest in a dungeon, you are not only teleported out of the dungeon but all the way back home. Next, the game does not automatically accept quests that you did not bother to. I’m talking about going into a dungeon looking for a person or item, and realizing its not there because you did not manually accept it outside of the dungeon. This again feels like a bother, typically in other quest-driven RPGs, quest items are there, regardless if you accepted the quest or not. These two flaws prevented the question system from being a smooth and enjoyable journey in my opinion.
The leveling up system is pretty normal from what we’ve seen from RPGs in the past. Players level up using the usual RPG experience point system. Experience can go be gained by defeating enemies in dungeons or by completing quests. Upon leveling up, there are four statistics to choose from to increase; HP, Attack, Defense and Speed. HP will always increase automatically on leveling up while the other three are left to the player to decide which one to increase when you level up. You can equip weapons to increase your attack and use certain items to temporarily increase some of stats in a battle.
Next, the combat system. The game seems to borrow elements from both Pokemon and the Paper Mario series. The combat system is a turn-based system which both and the enemy take turns to select an action. Just like the previously mentioned series, the player selects an action on the menu. On your turn, you can choose to attack, use an item, swap skills or run away from battle. When selecting attack, just like Pokemon, the player can choose from four attacks to perform. You start off with a single move called “Strike” but as you continue through the game, you gain more powerful moves. Just like Paper Mario, on performing the attack, if you press ‘A’ at the correct time, your attack is more powerful. Sadly, the same was not done on the defending side of fights. When you’re being attacked, you don’t have the option to press a button to avoid or weaken the enemy’s attack. Instead, you’ve got to watch your character get pummeled. A minor flaw in the system. I just figured if Paper Mario’s system of timed actions was borrowed, why not use it on both sides?
Next, there’s two things I have to criticize here. The game falls into RPG-related pitfalls. Firstly, while we’re on the topic of the combat system, there’s a flaw in engaging the enemy. All enemies in dungeons move just as fast as you, if not slower than you. This makes too easy to avoid all the enemies chasing after you and just finish all your object finding questions, making combat feel more of a bother than something fun to do. Secondly, the traditional “home base saving” style for saving the game. The game only saves upon completing a quest or when going back home for a nap. This means, you can not manually save and your game will go back to the last save if you were to turn it off before finishing an entire quest to teleport you back home. There’s no save option in the menu or any save points within the dungeon, that’s it. Finally, the multiplayer comes off as a disappointment when you think of what it could have been. The game’s multiplayer feature only allows you to have 1-on-1 battles with other players. There’s no co-operative mode (like there is with the iPhone where players can team up and gain special bonuses using the GPS feature) or any form of other connectivity.
To close off, Planet Crashers presents it self as a humorous and light RPG title. The game does well in presenting itself as a funny and cute-style game, with simple and cheerful music, funny graphics and bursting with life personalities. The game makes good use of the 3DS’ 3D graphics, which really plays well with the rotating globe style planets in the game. However, will it does well in the presentation department, the core mechanics is what wreck the game. The battle system lacks some much-welcomed mechanics, the quest system, while fun, is flawed and so is the dungeon. It is these flaws which will drive away many intermediate and adept RPG players. On the other hand, casual players may consider this as a cheaper, pick up and play RPG if they’re don’t feel like investing in better options such as Tales of the Abyss and very soon, Kingdom Hearts 3D. Although, at the current price, you may be getting a better value with one of those.
Thanks goes to UTV Ignition Entertainment for providing me with a copy of the game for this review!