Game Review: Orbit (PSP Mini)

I enjoy a good daft game as much as anyone else does – to hell with physics, let’s walk on the ceiling, no even better let’s resurrect the dead. Hold on… allow me to control time and space. Mwahahahaha! Orbit, I have a sneaking suspicion, is not aiming for realism, not one jot. This PSP Minis title, that was developed by Laughing Jackal, certainly does not make use of any current NASA findings, science or technology to base its space exploration on, oh no! Instead you fly to the moon using wooden boards flapping like a bird. Yes, this is silly, but it is fun!

The game has you taking control of a scientist who, after a VERY lengthy conversation with another scientist, is flung into orbit around a planet within our solar system, one at a time. Starting with the Moon first (yes I know it’s not a planet!) as a tutorial. Your main objective is to make a whole orbit of each planet (and Earth’s moon). Completing this objective opens up the next planet on your map to attempt to Orbit. On your journey you can pick up gold coins (no your spare change does not go down the back of your sofa!). These in turn unlock upgrades that can help you complete your objectives. These upgrades can help improve your launcher, accuracy, your ships speed, strength as well as supplying you with one-off use boosters and a HUD that you can use to help you obtain blueprints and relics.

You first attempt to launch your craft with what looks like a large cannon. A gauge is used to determine the angle and speed of your launch and when you are in the air  the only control you have over your ship is again pressing the X button to give you a slight lift. This is limited so you will crash land at some point – it’s just a case of when! You are able to prolong your orbit by upgrading your ship and launcher. Your task is made more difficult by the amount of obstacles that litter your path, these can range from space junk to satellites and rocks. You will need to navigate around these otherwise your journey ends rather quickly.

Controls are very simple, you use the X button at the right time to launch your scientist into orbit. When you are in orbit you can use the X button to keep yourself in the air for a limited time, use the O button for any additional boosts you may have purchased and the R shoulder button to bring up your HUD (if you have purchased it).

The art is a clean 2D style that comes straight from a comic book that, along with the great colour scheme, actually makes the game stand out and feel very vibrant against what should be a game that shows off a lot of black. The soundtrack is simple and repetitive but never annoyingly so, and the sound effects are straight from a Saturday morning cartoon and are fun.

Replay value is present through blueprints and relics which act as the games collectables, these are dotted around the planets various surfaces ready for you to grab on your way round. They also require you to change your flight path from simply shooting your way around the whole planet, so you will need to tweak your strategy in order to obtain them.

I certainly enjoyed the game, particularly as I unlocked more upgrades and collectables. The upgrades in particular have a big impact on your progression throughout the game, and thankfully there is a lot of gold to be found orbiting the planets! I must warn you though, this game suits short bursts of play rather than long periods. The game cannot hide the fact that you are being asked to do the same thing over and over again in quick succession. This does dampen your enjoyment of the game over longer periods. However since the controls are relatively straight forward, it is easy to pick up and have a go for 5 minutes at any time. The fact that you can so easily come back to the game and just start straight away makes this game very appealing to anyone.

Overall then Orbit is a title that can be a lot of fun in short bursts, however longer periods of play will show the games big flaw – you have seen and done this all in the tutorial and it’s not going to change. However if you are looking for something to just dip in and out of whenever you feel like, you can’t go wrong here.

Ben Gove

At A Glance

  • Title: Orbit
  • Publisher: Laughing Jackal
  • System: PSP Minis
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Online Multiplayer: No
  • Local Multiplayer: No
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 32Mb

 

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