Plazmoids! Review

Developer: Visionary Publisher: Visionary
Release Date: September 10, 2004 Also On: None

Plazmoids! is the type of game that Nintendo is trying to develop to give gamers a reason for buying their new DS handheld, an innovative touch screen game. But it is not a DS game. Plazmoids! is a Palm OS game. Which is not that surprising if you think about it, because PalmOS developers have had years of experience with touch screens. But is it a good game, too? The answer I will give you is a definitive YES.

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Plazmoids! is another space game. You steer a space ship, fight against aliens, the usual stuff. But wait! There are some differences. Your ship is steered by pointing into the direction it should fly on the touch screen. How far away you point on the screen decides how much the ship should accelerate. The level is exactly as big as the screen, so there is no scrolling getting in the way of the controls. This way to steer the ship is very intuitive. Learning to master it and flying around asteroids and enemies perfectly can take some time though. There are other ways to control your ship, too, like with the Zodiac’s analog stick, and you can freely configure the button you want to fire with or do a double or single tap on the screen. It can all be configured in the menu just as you want it to be.

Your objective in Plazmoids! is not simply to kill all the enemies on the screen. It is to collect all the Plazmoids in a level and bring them to your base with your elastic tractor beams. Plazmoids are special small asteroids and if they get into a certain distance of your ship, they are automatically dragged into your direction with an elastic tractor beam. This beam will break if the Plazmoid drags too much though, so you have to be very careful when moving Plazmoids around. The game features a powerful 2D physics engine that makes you feel the force of the Plazmoid you drag along.

In the first levels, the enemies are your standard alien ships that fly around and shoot at you. Some of them can collect Plazmoids, too, and you have to destroy the aliens to get them back. But when you get farther into the game, the enemies become much more interesting. There are little drones that attach themselves to Plazmoids so you have to be very careful not to drag them into yourself. Other enemies will attract you with their own tractor beams. Then there is the rotating laser boss which cannot be destroyed. The guys at Visionary were creative enough to design enemies that really affect the gameplay.

The last major thing in gameplay are the powerups. The first few enemies in every level will leave powerups when destroyed. The most important powerups are weapon upgrades and tractor beam upgrades. It will be very difficult to master later levels with your standard weapon. A weapon with a short range is not too useful against enemies that drag you in when you are in shooting distance. It is not impossible to kill them still but a lot more difficult.

Your tractor beam needs upgrading, too. The standard tractor beam that comes with your ship can only attract the smallest Plazmoids. To get the bigger ones, you have to shoot them first so that they break into smaller parts. Or get an upgrade to the tractor beam. An upgraded tractor beam will attract bigger Plazmoids, too, and also attract smaller ones more so that it is easier to fly them around without losing them.

These are not the only powerups. There are updates to your fuel tank, special weapons, strong magnets, powerups that make you invulnerable for some amount of time or let you fly through asteroids etc. Again the creativity of Visionary shows since each powerup affects gameplay in a different way.

When I got Plazmoids! for the first time some months ago, the graphics were nice 2D and the sounds were okay. Some major updates have been done to the game since then. Now the 2D graphics are very nice with lots of different effects and the background music that has been added really adds to the game’s atmosphere and fits perfectly. The presentation is very professional for a Palm OS game.

Plazmoids! is an arcade style game. That means it has quite a lot of replay value, with not too many levels. In fact there are only 15 levels parted into three different worlds. That is not much, but it will take you some time until you reach the third or even the second world. Even if you have completed the game, there is still a reason to play it again: the online highscores list.

The game has a very intelligent scoring system. Destroyed enemies and collected Plazmoids get you points, but the longer it takes you to complete a level, the more percent will be taken from your score in this level. The faster you get at the game the more you will score. You will need to practice a lot to be able to compete with scores of people from around the world. The highscore export system is quite comfortable. You can export a code to a memo and after hotsyncing, you can simply cut and paste it to the highscore website.

Plazmoids! is a game I can recommend to everyone. It is a Palm OS killer app. You will not be seeing something like it on the DS though, because the touchscreen is too small for it. Plazmoids! needs some space on the screen and I cannot imagine a useful scrolling mechanism. If you do not believe me when I say that this is one of the best handheld games in existence, there is a demo for you to try the game, of course.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 10
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 9.2
Written by Ortwin Review Guide

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