568038Turn-based strategy games have popped up here and there in the App Store, but none have really gained the traction that games like Advance Wars or Final Fantasy Tactics have on other consoles. With the exception of a small but devoted UniWar following, the iPhone has yet to see a breakthrough success in the world of turn-based battalions. Rogue Planet is looking to change all that.

Returning from a 35 year mission in space, the Nimeh is loaded with crew longing to see home. But when they return to earth they discover a horrible situation – the machines have taken over! Yes, that’s right – Rogue Planet is Macross Saga meets Terminator. As any science fiction fanboy will attest, the combination of these two scratches a certain nerd itch that we didn’t even know we had and we’re all the better for it.

Despite drawing from some obvious inspiration, the story in Rogue Planet ends up feeling wholly original and fairly well told. Each mission is a part of the larger story, unfolding as the Nimeh travels in search of any human survivors. Decent writing and a compelling plot keep things moving along nicely throughout. But what is a compelling story without some equally compelling gameplay?

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Thankfully Rogue Planet delivers where it counts. Basic mechanics feel like a stripped down version of what Advance Wars offers. You’ll move, attack, and produce units. In terms of actual gameplay, that’s the bulk of what you’ll need to know. The touch screen interface feels like a perfect fit for the genre. You just tap a unit, tap where you want to go, and confirm your intentions. Depending on your situation you’ll attack, rest, heal, bomb, or commit suicide. It’s important that you know what you want to do, because unlike many of its competitors Rogue Planet doesn’t offer an undo button. The game is fairly unforgiving in this way, forcing you to think your strategies through before jumping into action.

Chances are you just read the word “suicide” and wondered why on earth you’d want to kill one of your own men. When we first fiddled around with suicide it seemed to do little more than explode your soldier or vehicle for no real reason. As you get deeper into the game though, you learn the true power of the suicide bomber. Imagine this – your poor lonely soldier is down to 10 health. He’s useless – he can’t pick a fight and the next time someone picks one for him it’s all going downhill fast. So you offer him up as a sacrifice to whatever gods he prays to. Click suicide, and instantly do 20 damage to all units around him. If he’s surrounded by enemy units on every side, your poor little soldier will be doing more damage now than he ever could have in life. The flipside is that your remaining soldiers on adjacent squares will take damage too. This means you’ve got to really weigh the options before sending a young man to face imminent doom.

568038_2The AI in Rogue Planet is delightfully bright – sometimes frustratingly so. In one situation I had my engineer to the left of a row of tanks so that he could do any healing that was necessary. Through a fluke of bad planning one of my tanks met an untimely end. The enemy quickly swooped in with any units within reach and created a wall of units between my engineer and the remaining tanks. It was so perfect, so precise, so devious a tactic that I couldn’t imagine a simple program figuring out how to screw me like that. It was beautiful.

While the game will save your progress automatically allowing for a quick exit, the structure of the game doesn’t really take the quick and dirty nature of iPhone gaming to heart. Most missions will last more than half an hour -- sometimes exceedingly so. One mission took just shy of two hours to complete. The battle of Mexico City was a long, hard fought predicament. We had to fight for every square inch of land we took and kept pressing onward to gain more ground. Nose to nose against our opponent, one wall of soldiers faced another in a bottleneck scenario that took all our resolve and determination to complete. You might think that two hours of the same mission could become dull and stale, but our experience was quite the opposite. With every turn we were on the edge of our seat, biting our nails. Every time we gained a little ground it was reason for celebration. And 36 rounds later we took Mexico City back for the human race. It was glorious – and we had barely scratched the surface of what Rogue Planet had to offer.

568038_5Rogue Planet could easily be the perfect template for iPhone turn-based strategy if it weren’t for a few flaws that hampered the experience. Speed was definitely an issue. Sure we loved how easy it was to capture buildings and produce units in one turn, but where was a waypoint system? Where was some factory automation? In a long drawn out battle like the aforementioned Mexico City, 70% of my time was spent making new units and moving a multitude of troops to the front. If I could have set a waypoint for new units, that would have my time in half. If I could have told my factory to produce a commando unit and a Lynx unit every turn unless I said otherwise, it would have improved my time even more so.

The lack of internet play was also a bit of a disappointment. And while internet play has been promised in the first update, there’s really no guarantee of when that update will come along. It’s a shame too, because the game was so clearly designed for multiplayer from the get-go. The game offers an additional 15 maps exclusive to multiplayer, and while you can play them in the solo “quick play” mode or locally over wireless or Bluetooth with a friend, the vast majority of iPhone gamers are going to be looking for a challenge whenever it suits their needs. That’s the whole reason online gaming is such a success – it caters to your schedule. In fact, Rogue Planet doesn’t even offer pass’n’play multiplayer.

While it’s not a perfect game, Rogue Planet is a damned good one. This is easily the best turn-based strategy experience on the iPhone so far, if not one of the best turn-based strategy games period. Rogue Planet can easily stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Advance Wars, and until now I’d have been hard pressed to find any other game that could. While the recently released Battle of Wesnoth might become a threat, various 1.0 issues currently prevent it from being a serious contender.

Fans of turn-based strategies from Military Madness to Mecho Wars owe it to themselves a treat like this. At $4.99, with the amount of game you’re getting Rogue Planet is a no-brainer.

App Store Link: Rogue Planet, $4.99

TouchArcade Rating

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  • http://musicgamespickles.blogspot.com/ Robert M.

    Ugh... I guess I'll be buying this!! I love a good turn based game.

  • http://musicgamespickles.blogspot.com/ Robert M.

    Ugh... I guess I'll be buying this!! I love a good turn based game.

  • Patrick

    I have really enjoyed this game. The story is well told and the graphics and animations are great.

    However, I have to whole heatedly disagree about the AI. I have noticed the AI making consistent and obvious blunders. For instance one mission I played (this has happened more than one it was just particularly pronounced in this mission) the AI attacked my Sabertooth(heavy armor) with its Shadow(weak scout unit). The Shadow died doing no damage. Next turn it attacked my Sabertooth with another Shadow. This Shadow (already injured) died doing no damage. This continued for 6 turns. In each turn the AI would attack and do no damage while loosing a Unit. At the end of each turn it would buy more Shadows. This was particularly weird because the AI had 2 Mega-Mechs(heavy armor) only 2 squares away. I have also been in several missions where the AI contained Dragons (its long range missile units). I have yet to see the dragon actually attack me (even when my units have been in range).

    I don't want to overstate my case, I do really enjoy the game (and I see a lot of potential). I do hope that there is a patch to address some of the obvious AI deficiencies.

  • Patrick

    I have really enjoyed this game. The story is well told and the graphics and animations are great.

    However, I have to whole heatedly disagree about the AI. I have noticed the AI making consistent and obvious blunders. For instance one mission I played (this has happened more than one it was just particularly pronounced in this mission) the AI attacked my Sabertooth(heavy armor) with its Shadow(weak scout unit). The Shadow died doing no damage. Next turn it attacked my Sabertooth with another Shadow. This Shadow (already injured) died doing no damage. This continued for 6 turns. In each turn the AI would attack and do no damage while loosing a Unit. At the end of each turn it would buy more Shadows. This was particularly weird because the AI had 2 Mega-Mechs(heavy armor) only 2 squares away. I have also been in several missions where the AI contained Dragons (its long range missile units). I have yet to see the dragon actually attack me (even when my units have been in range).

    I don't want to overstate my case, I do really enjoy the game (and I see a lot of potential). I do hope that there is a patch to address some of the obvious AI deficiencies.

  • Munkie!

    *hoping for one more frontpage review of RP* =

  • Munkie!

    *hoping for one more frontpage review of RP* =\

  • dumas1000

    Campaign Mission 4, Mexico City, is going to ruin this game for a lot of people, which is unfortunate. It won't ruin the game for everyone, obviously. But it's going to hamper a lot of people's ability to enjoy this game. It's somewhat similar to what the cop chase event does to Asphalt 5

    • Jayson

      It's true. I got so bored by round 50 on Mexico City that I just didn't want to play any more.

      I'm surprised they would put such amateur level design in, especially so early in the game.

  • dumas1000

    Campaign Mission 4, Mexico City, is going to ruin this game for a lot of people, which is unfortunate. It won't ruin the game for everyone, obviously. But it's going to hamper a lot of people's ability to enjoy this game. It's somewhat similar to what the cop chase event does to Asphalt 5

    • Jayson

      It's true. I got so bored by round 50 on Mexico City that I just didn't want to play any more.

      I'm surprised they would put such amateur level design in, especially so early in the game.

  • Munkie!

    "Basic mechanics feel like a stripped down version of what Advance Wars offers. You’ll move, attack, and produce units. In terms of actual gameplay, that’s the bulk of what you’ll need to know"

    When does being a "stripped" down version of an already simple game become a positive?

    This review is quite a bit off on more than one take.

    Munkie!

  • Munkie!

    "Basic mechanics feel like a stripped down version of what Advance Wars offers. You’ll move, attack, and produce units. In terms of actual gameplay, that’s the bulk of what you’ll need to know"

    When does being a "stripped" down version of an already simple game become a positive?

    This review is quite a bit off on more than one take.

    Munkie!

  • Sev

    Thanks for the review, I enjoyed Advance Wars and still have it somewhere but play with my iPhone a lot more these days. Bought it just now.

  • Sev

    Thanks for the review, I enjoyed Advance Wars and still have it somewhere but play with my iPhone a lot more these days. Bought it just now.

  • Icepulse

    I'm enjoying it. Very attractive game.

    Has anyone confirmed flying units? I'm guessing there aren't any, based on the early observation that mountains are wholly impassible.

    Anyone?

  • Icepulse

    I'm enjoying it. Very attractive game.

    Has anyone confirmed flying units? I'm guessing there aren't any, based on the early observation that mountains are wholly impassible.

    Anyone?

  • Chad

    The lack of an undo is really a problem (unless you discover new units after the move) because it's really easy to fat finger the suicide and then you're done. I'm sorry but completely destroying your own unit is a good candidate for a confirm option.

  • Chad

    The lack of an undo is really a problem (unless you discover new units after the move) because it's really easy to fat finger the suicide and then you're done. I'm sorry but completely destroying your own unit is a good candidate for a confirm option.

  • David

    I don't really understand why Uniwar doesn't have more people playing. It is by far the app I've spent the most amount of time on, and I've spent more than $100 on various apps. The online multiplayer is fantastic. It's on my front page, and the push notification allows me to not have to check constantly to see if its my turn.

    For me, multiplayer is the most important thing, and until this game gets good online multiplayer support, I don't think it will be a sell for me.

    • Bex

      Two reasons, I think--

      One, the single player campaign kind of sucks. Especially the AI that takes way too long to make a move. I know you don't have to finish the campaign to play multiplayer but most people want to learn the game that way; and I think a lot of people write the game off when they have to deal with the awful AI and never make it to multiplayer mode.

      Two, a lot of the maps give one side and/or race a big advantage, if not a guaranteed win if the player knows what they're doing. I was a big fan of the game but I gave it up when I realized this; just about everyone you play who isn't a complete newbie tends to use the exact same foolproof strategies (and often same order of moves.) So there really needs to be new maps and modes of play or just an overhaul of things if they're going to keep going, because I think a lot of players are getting bored and dropping out.

      • anthonyafterwit

        I'm a fan of Uniwar. Yes, there are a few maps that might give an advantage to a certain race, but you can always choose not to play such a map - and there are a LOT of maps in Uniwar. As for the single player campaign, I played through it once and never looked back. I've since played hundreds of online mulitiplayer games which are so good that no other iphone game has been able to hold my attention for more than a day - and I've spent hundreds on iphone games. Some may look better, some may have a better pedigree, but none have been able to touch Uniwar multiplayer. And when Uniwar updated with push notification it just put the nail in the coffin to all other tbs games. Single player games are a dime a dozen... there's nothing like playing vs. a cunning human.

      • Bex

        I'm not disagreeing with you about single player, but I am saying it turns people off who would otherwise play multiplayer. Meaning there's a smaller community than if the single player aspect was more engaging. Most people don't just jump into multiplayer when they don't know how to play the game, after all, so they go through the campaign first, and when the campaign is flawed they lose interest and move on.

        As far as maps go, I playing a LOT over the summer and into September, I was very active in the community and on the forums, and I learned all the "tricks." There really isn't a single map where one side and one race doesn't have a significant advantage, if not a guaranteed win. All of this is pretty common knowledge as well amongst those who play a lot. While the game can still be fun, you pretty much have to agree with the other player NOT to use the tried-and-true winning strategy (or race/map combo) ahead of time to make it a challenge once you figure all the tricks out.

        I still have high hopes for the game and I know they're making a sequel so maybe they'll work out the kinks. It is a great game, especially considering it's on the iphone, but but you ask why the community is small and these are the reasons why I think people get either turned off in the beginning or bored in the end.

  • David

    I don't really understand why Uniwar doesn't have more people playing. It is by far the app I've spent the most amount of time on, and I've spent more than $100 on various apps. The online multiplayer is fantastic. It's on my front page, and the push notification allows me to not have to check constantly to see if its my turn.

    For me, multiplayer is the most important thing, and until this game gets good online multiplayer support, I don't think it will be a sell for me.

    • Bex

      Two reasons, I think--

      One, the single player campaign kind of sucks. Especially the AI that takes way too long to make a move. I know you don't have to finish the campaign to play multiplayer but most people want to learn the game that way; and I think a lot of people write the game off when they have to deal with the awful AI and never make it to multiplayer mode.

      Two, a lot of the maps give one side and/or race a big advantage, if not a guaranteed win if the player knows what they're doing. I was a big fan of the game but I gave it up when I realized this; just about everyone you play who isn't a complete newbie tends to use the exact same foolproof strategies (and often same order of moves.) So there really needs to be new maps and modes of play or just an overhaul of things if they're going to keep going, because I think a lot of players are getting bored and dropping out.

      • anthonyafterwit

        I'm a fan of Uniwar. Yes, there are a few maps that might give an advantage to a certain race, but you can always choose not to play such a map - and there are a LOT of maps in Uniwar. As for the single player campaign, I played through it once and never looked back. I've since played hundreds of online mulitiplayer games which are so good that no other iphone game has been able to hold my attention for more than a day - and I've spent hundreds on iphone games. Some may look better, some may have a better pedigree, but none have been able to touch Uniwar multiplayer. And when Uniwar updated with push notification it just put the nail in the coffin to all other tbs games. Single player games are a dime a dozen... there's nothing like playing vs. a cunning human.

      • Bex

        I'm not disagreeing with you about single player, but I am saying it turns people off who would otherwise play multiplayer. Meaning there's a smaller community than if the single player aspect was more engaging. Most people don't just jump into multiplayer when they don't know how to play the game, after all, so they go through the campaign first, and when the campaign is flawed they lose interest and move on.

        As far as maps go, I playing a LOT over the summer and into September, I was very active in the community and on the forums, and I learned all the "tricks." There really isn't a single map where one side and one race doesn't have a significant advantage, if not a guaranteed win. All of this is pretty common knowledge as well amongst those who play a lot. While the game can still be fun, you pretty much have to agree with the other player NOT to use the tried-and-true winning strategy (or race/map combo) ahead of time to make it a challenge once you figure all the tricks out.

        I still have high hopes for the game and I know they're making a sequel so maybe they'll work out the kinks. It is a great game, especially considering it's on the iphone, but but you ask why the community is small and these are the reasons why I think people get either turned off in the beginning or bored in the end.

  • Jeff

    is it just me or does the art look like a sequel to the mass effect iphone game?

  • Jeff

    is it just me or does the art look like a sequel to the mass effect iphone game?

  • http://twitter.com/heresathought/ Fraser

    Good review! I think I'll be getting this.

    Small typo: "Battle FOR Wesnoth".

  • http://twitter.com/heresathought/ Fraser

    Good review! I think I'll be getting this.

    Small typo: "Battle FOR Wesnoth".

  • Kliev

    I'm several levels in and quite enjoying the game. It can be a little cumbersome to move and attack, at least compared to UniWar, but I like the mechanic of armor units having limited fuel & ammo. It adds an extra element to have to keep things supplied by the tanker truck or nearby cities. I would disagree with the AI being brilliant. It is good at going for weak targets, but as Patrick said, units will happily suicide on my heavy tanks all day, with little or no damage done. To be fair, UniWar has the same problem though.

    My other criticism so far is that the resources given tend to be too generous, and I have found little reason to use the regular soldiers or light tanks. With a square grid (vs. hex), the main challenge is maneuvering everything into place, not making tough choices about which units you can build.

    But if I'm complaining about strategy, it usually means I'm enjoying the game enough to think about it, which is better than 95% of the iPhone games out there.

  • Kliev

    I'm several levels in and quite enjoying the game. It can be a little cumbersome to move and attack, at least compared to UniWar, but I like the mechanic of armor units having limited fuel & ammo. It adds an extra element to have to keep things supplied by the tanker truck or nearby cities. I would disagree with the AI being brilliant. It is good at going for weak targets, but as Patrick said, units will happily suicide on my heavy tanks all day, with little or no damage done. To be fair, UniWar has the same problem though.

    My other criticism so far is that the resources given tend to be too generous, and I have found little reason to use the regular soldiers or light tanks. With a square grid (vs. hex), the main challenge is maneuvering everything into place, not making tough choices about which units you can build.

    But if I'm complaining about strategy, it usually means I'm enjoying the game enough to think about it, which is better than 95% of the iPhone games out there.

  • Ak56

    Are you for real? What do you think Civ Revolutions is, chopped liver? It's the granddaddy and big kahuna of all turn based strategy games, for crying out loud.

  • Ak56

    Are you for real? What do you think Civ Revolutions is, chopped liver? It's the granddaddy and big kahuna of all turn based strategy games, for crying out loud.

  • Munkie!

    I see this as quite the bias review. Not up to the normal quality of TA.

    • akira01

      How can you say that ?
      you haven't even play at Rogue Planet...
      I play this game since 2 days and really, it's a great game, not perfect, by far, but great.
      The story, the gameplay, the art. All is at very high level not only for an iphone game but for a console game.

  • Munkie!

    I see this as quite the bias review. Not up to the normal quality of TA.

    • akira01

      How can you say that ?
      you haven't even play at Rogue Planet...
      I play this game since 2 days and really, it's a great game, not perfect, by far, but great.
      The story, the gameplay, the art. All is at very high level not only for an iphone game but for a console game.

  • Bird59

    what about hot seat multiplayer? Is it in the game?

  • Bird59

    what about hot seat multiplayer? Is it in the game?

  • Kevin

    I'm enjoying the game but I'd like to echo some of the complaints already made.
    1: it's way too easy to make a mistake by hitting the wrong command. There should be an undo button.
    2: The AI is horrible! The chicago level was the worst. The Enemy would spend turn after turn moving the exact same units around with 100 health. And never fire a shot at me!

    Nevertheless, I'm still playing. I think multiplayer would be really fun.

  • Kevin

    I'm enjoying the game but I'd like to echo some of the complaints already made.
    1: it's way too easy to make a mistake by hitting the wrong command. There should be an undo button.
    2: The AI is horrible! The chicago level was the worst. The Enemy would spend turn after turn moving the exact same units around with 100 health. And never fire a shot at me!

    Nevertheless, I'm still playing. I think multiplayer would be really fun.

  • Joel

    The graphics are pretty and all, but this is just a remix of Uniwar in my eyes.

    For the record, I thought Reign of Swords was a better turn-based strategy, and of course Civilization rules the genre.

  • Joel

    The graphics are pretty and all, but this is just a remix of Uniwar in my eyes.

    For the record, I thought Reign of Swords was a better turn-based strategy, and of course Civilization rules the genre.

  • Jayson

    The jrpg-style story is pretty frustrating - I don't feel like tapping through 40 lines of dialog every time I want to play a level. As the reviewer stated, far too much manual attention is required for mundane tasks.

    The killer, though, is Mexico City. After 50 rounds of stalemate over the ludicrous bottleneck map, I jus got boooooored.

    I've deleted the game, and don't plan to buy from these guys again.

  • Jayson

    The jrpg-style story is pretty frustrating - I don't feel like tapping through 40 lines of dialog every time I want to play a level. As the reviewer stated, far too much manual attention is required for mundane tasks.

    The killer, though, is Mexico City. After 50 rounds of stalemate over the ludicrous bottleneck map, I jus got boooooored.

    I've deleted the game, and don't plan to buy from these guys again.