Sometimes games that are based on an incredibly simple concept are ones that work the best. While it’s all well and good having games like Uncharted, Grand Theft Auto, Call Of Duty, Dead Space and all of the other major franchises, there’s a lot to be said about more simplistic games that you can just pick up and play; games that don’t need you to be able to put hours in at a time and even longer just to get to grips with the game mechanics, and games that anyone of all ages can pick up and enjoy no matter what their gaming abilities are. That’s what I really do love about the PS Mobile range (and the Minis before them). They focus primarily on gameplay and not getting bogged down with over complicated controls, storylines, and extended learning curves – you really can just load them up and start playing straight away.
What’s more, they’re ideal for bite-sized gaming at any time of the day or night. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that these games are simplistic and basic – far from it. Most are highly polished and are superb games in their own right, but they are designed straight away to be fun and playable and many developers have looked back to the golden era of gaming for their inspiration and Switch Galaxy is no exception… A sequel to their earlier Android game Switch, this is a 3D racing game putting you in control of a high speed craft racing between planets across the galaxy using a high speed interplanetary track collecting a valuable resource, Tantalum, on behalf of the company Dakur Technology.
As you travel between planets, you can collect cash along the way that you can use to upgrade your ship to help you on the track… well you didn’t think it was going to be as easy as driving along a road did you? There are obstacles along the way to be avoided, gaps to be jumped over and even other ships outo to get in your way or steal any cash you’ve accumulated. If you can manage to reach Dakur’s research base at the other end of the Galaxy, there may just be a reward waiting for you…
It has to be said that, as racing games go, it has one of the most pointless storylines I’ve ever read! I’m all for games having stories and plots to them where needed but when it doesn’t really matter or isn’t needed for a game then I’d rather just get on with it and get down to the game at hand and start racing. I don’t particularly care about any missions or collecting Tantalum or any such stuff – I just want to get straight into the racing itself and in this case the game itself is a relatively simple affair… or at least it is on first impressions.
The track is set out in front of you in four lanes and you can switch between them by simply pushing left or right (the touch screen can be used as well but I found that to be somewhat unresponsive and quickly went back to the d-pad which seemed to be best suited for the game). As your ship travels along the track, it increases in speed. Along the way, barriers appear in front of you so you need to switch lanes to avoid them, gaps will appear in lanes and yellow orbs hovver above the track containing credits that you can use in the shop between levels to buy upgrades. All you have to do is survive until the end of each track to make it to the planet at the end, while racing against the clock. Hitting a barrier won’t destroy your ship but it will slow you down so avoiding them is of paramount importance.
According to the developers, they took their inspriation loosely from the old Atari 2600 game Dodge-e, translating it into a full 3D game. From a personal level, it reminds me of the Commodore 64 classic Trailblazer which was updated for the Minis range and I would say that – apart from the inability to jump – Switch Galaxy resembles that more than anything… although that certainly isn’t a bad thing.
The game starts off gently teaching you the basics of the game from switching lanes, collecting credits, avoiding barriers to using power-ups that you will find on the track in later levels. As new elements are added to the tracks as you progress through the game you are never left to figure things out for yourself as there is always a brief explanationat the start ensuring that you are able to focus on playing the game rather than struggling to figure out what to do. As well as the standard levels, which increase in difficulty as you progress through the game, there are bonus challenge levels where you can earn extra credits by replaying planets in special missions where you have to reach fixed distances without crashing. On the earlier levels this isn’t too difficult, but as your ship speeds up the further you travel on these later levels things get pretty tough!
Switch Galaxy is an incredibly addictive game. Despite simplistic controls and what appears to be a very basic underlying game, there is a lot on offer here. With plenty of planets to visit, a wide range of power-ups to buy, each with several levels of upgrades on offer, there is far more to this game than first appears. It’s incredibly fast and has that allure that drives you back to keep playing over and over. Just like most of the other games in the PlayStation Mobile range, it’s ideal for short bursts of play, but it’s also equally at home for longer gaming sessions if you’re in the mood to challenge yourself in the story mode or the game’s additional survival mode should you complete the main game.
I have give special mention to the visuals here and I must say that this is undeniably one of best looking games to grace PlayStation Mobile so far and it does the format proud. It runs incredibly smoothly, looks stunning and sounds great. While how a game looks and sounds is secondary to the gameplay, in this case it really adds to what is already a great game and Switch Galaxy really stands out from the crowd. The developers have a background working on Sony consoles in the past (with some of their team having worked on previous games like Wipeout and Destruction Derby) and it certainly shows here.
This is a truly stunning game and is a perfect showcase game for PS Mobile. It’s fast, addictive, looks breathtaking and plays like a dream. There is really no excuse for not owning this game and this game could easily be mistaken for a regular PS Vita game. Miss this at your peril.
At A Glance
- Title: Switch Galaxy
- Publisher: Atomicom
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 37Mb