Rocket-powered rollerskates and exploding bird seed notwithstanding, this one'll keep your thumbs sore, and your synapses firing
Most of us, when we hear the word "acme," skip the dictionary definition and make a mental beeline straight for the misadventures of Wile E. Coyote. At first glance, the connection between the mischievous character and Acme Planetary Defense - the new shooter from Taptoon Games - is tenuous at best, consisting only of the fact that your upgrades and resources are delivered in iconic crates. A little hands on time with the colorful, chaotic shooter however, reveals a game that would do the Looney Toons proud.
It's not what you'd call an overly unique proposition. You're in charge of defending a planet, rendered as a rotating, two-dimensional disc on the bottom of your screen, against alien invaders from outer space. They launch asteroids, rockets and even black holes at your world, and will occasionally take a more direct hand in things through flying saucer attacks. Your job is to shoot down their hopes… and their army.
Your initial defenses consist of a single, underpowered missile launcher, but you'll very quickly be able to upgrade to far more potent weaponry, like rapid fire cannons, lasers, bombs, and "seekers."And that's to say nothing of your access to planetary shields, defense satellites, orbital mines and a variety of other power-ups. Everything costs in-game money, though, and you'll only be able to collect a limited amount in each level, forcing you to make some pretty tough choices as you progress throughout the game. My advice? Don't scrimp: The action gets fast and furious in a hurry an you'll need all the help you can get. Bolster early to survive (and earn) later. Kind of like banking. In space. With weapons.
Acme Planetary Defense looks great, with sharp, brightly-colored graphics and an aesthetic that really puts you at the helm of a base of interstellar operations. And although the soundtrack seems to consist of one single, eternally-repeating tune, it's so fitting that the repetition is hardly noticeable. With that said, sound effects are a little on the anemic side; objects don't "blow up" when they're shot so much as just kind of… fizzle into nothingness. The interface is simple and uncluttered, consisting of two buttons used to rotate the planet left and right, a main fire button and a "bomb" button - though I like to think of it as an "explosive space modulator" button - for those desperate moments when you really need an earth-shattering kaboom.
Unfortunately, the controls feel a little sloppy and imprecise at times, which isn't frequently an issue but can be frustrating when particularly small objects start falling toward your planet. The weapons are a bit out of balance as well. Flak and lasers are devastating, and everything else feels ineffectual in comparison. The variety is nice, particularly for players who like to mix up the challenge a bit, but anyone aiming to maximize their scores and collect all the achievements will probably settle on one of these two bruisers and put all the excess money they earn into support gadgets. In that way, Acme Planetary Defense never fully rises above the tower defense trope of "find the one or two successful strategies, and use them."
- Enemy difficulty and arsenal selection combine to offer intense action. Production values are spot on for the experience it's trying to create. A solid variety of power-ups and bonuses keep the action from feeling stale.
- Shallow gameplay prioritizes patterns over strategy. Falls prey to the tower defense money crunch: not enough early on, and more than you know what to do with once you've gotten the hang of things.