Gum Drop Celestial Frontier is based on an interesting and original premise where instead of guns you need to use physics to defeat your enemies in this top down shoot ’em up. The game has 20 levels and 4 difficulties to play through with a survival mode to unlock once you finish all the levels. The game can save to keep track of your progress and high scores so you can return to the game later. The game’s menus are well presented and easy to use.
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You play the game by moving your ship around with the left stick and using the right stick to control where your ship is facing. The right trigger activates the tractor beam which allows you to take hold of objects such as weapons, power ups or enemy ships. To attack enemies you can pick up the S.M.A.S.H object and spin it around to build up momentum and then pound it into an enemy ship. The S.M.A.S.H object is your main weapon which you swing into your enemies and has the appearance of a cog with a yellow line through it. You can press B to release the items in your tractor beam if you wish, pressing the left trigger will recall the S.M.A.S.H items you’ve previously had in your grip towards you. If you have an enemy ship in your tractor beam while you recall the S.M.A.S.H towards you they will collide with it and can kill it.
There is a base ship in each level which you need to protect. It can heal you if you return to it or you can take debris to it to redeem for power ups and bonuses. It will constantly fire bullets at the enemy ships unless it is healing you as it diverts the power away from the turrets. As the game progresses the base ship will be upgraded with more turrets and missile launchers.
There are a variety of power ups which are active while they are in the grasp of your tractor beam. They include a mine trap which releases mines to catch enemy ships, gravity well which attracts items towards it, a blaster which shoots at enemies and more. The power ups slowly turn to black and then disappear so they do not last forever. If you fire your tractor beam at the enemy’s bullets they change colour from red to blue and become your own so they will damage enemies.
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There are a variety of enemies from small to large which changes how hard they are to kill and how heavy they are. The smaller ships are faster but easier to kill where as the larger ships are much slower but can take more of a beating. Later in the game you will encounter enemies which have their own tractor beams and more powerful weapons such as missile launchers.
The game has a good physics engine which controls how the items on screen interact and move. Picking up objects and moving your ship around causes the objects held in your tractor beam to move around with the ship and gain momentum. The momentum they gain can pull your ship around in return. The more objects you have the harder it is to move as they slow you down. In the background there are swirls of purple which attract items and cause them to spin around. The physics engine handles a large number of objects well and it is pleasing to watch how they collide with each other and spin around. There are occasional slow downs but this doesn’t affect the game too much.
The game is fun to play by utilising the physics engine to attack your enemies or by dragging back debris to your base ship to create power ups to help attack your enemies. The game is deep and requires strategy to take down your foes and heal yourself. Each level just seems to involves defeating all the enemies but the variety of the power ups, enemies and ways to play helps keep it interesting. The learning curve of the game is well designed as it starts off easy enough allowing you to learn the mechanics of the game but evolves into a much more challenging game.
The game’s graphics are very good. The ships and items have a cartoony style while the background is more detailed with lots of stars and nebula’s. The backgrounds change through the levels offering some variety. As objects and bullets speed around they leave colourful trails which are pleasing to the eye. The graphical presentation works well with the gameplay to provide a fun to play game.
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The game’s music and sound effects are fairly basic and plain. They don’t stand out as anything special but they’re not annoying for the most part. The music mostly just fades into the background and you hardly notice it’s there. The spoken voice when you complete the level is perhaps the most annoying part but it’s easily forgiven.
Overall I found this game compelling and fun to play. To me it seems well worth the asking price of 200 :MSPoints: for the original gameplay ideas involved and the fun this provides. The occasional slow down and annoying voice does little to subtract from the game’s value and fun.
You can find out more about Gum Drop Celestial Frontier and download the trial or full game here. Review by Matthew.
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