Spacelings [99c] is the new 2d action-puzzler from Hotgen, who previously released To-Fu: The Trials of Chi [99c/HD]. As you might have gathered from the name, their latest game is set in space. The naughty mechanical Roborgs have abducted all the Spacelings and deposited them in over 100 levels around the universe. Your spaceship, the 'Liberator', has no weapons, so instead of attacking you use your ships tractor-beam to try and recover your fellow Spacelings. This game is a rescue mission.
If the Spacelings stood in a polite orderly queue, directly below your spacecraft, things would be super convenient - just activate the tractor beam, suck them straight up to your craft and then continue to the next level. However, the Spacelings are actually positioned all over the level, so the tractor beam must be swiped, to turn corners, until it eventually reaches a captured Spaceling to suck back to the Liberator. Some levels are larger than your screen, so you can drag the background with your finger, to pan around and plan your approach.
You're given a limited supply of "deflectors", so the tractor-beam can only turn so many corners. This forces you to carefully plan-and swipe the beam's route through each level, to ensure you reach a Spaceling within the tractor beam's limited range. Fortunately, once a deflector has been deployed, it can also be re-used, allowing the beam to snake across the level for one recovery, then by moving the deflectors, head somewhere else for another rescue attempt. This game is all about turning corners at the right times.
There's other stuff in the levels too, like mines, beam switchers (reverses the tractor beam so it pushes objects), lazer-turrets, teleporters and disruptor fields (which the tractor-beam can't pass through). You'll be taught some tricks, like how to slingshot objects into each other to remove obstacles, enemies, bombs or mines. Be gentle with those bombs once they're in your tractor beam though, as they detonate upon contact, even if it's an innocent Spaceling. Definitely don't let the tractor-beam bring a bomb back on board your precious spacecraft either. And much like the classic movie Ghostbusters, you'll be advised never to cross the beams!
A new gameplay mechanism is explained at the start of each level. These hints and instructions are helpful initially, but towards the end of the game, the hint screen and a pop-up message both display exactly the same hint and requiring two taps to close before you can play. And the earlier hints start repeating. Perhaps the developers got sick of writing so many hints.
Each level is rewarded by medals based on the number of rescues, enemies destroyed and time taken. There's also a special medal for achieving all the medals in the same attempt. There's 393 medals to earn in total, plus Game Center support for 20 achievements and high-score / medal leader-boards. And it's universal, so it runs on all your IOS devices.
After playing Spacelings for a while, I started wanting more of a mental challenge as most levels are pretty easy, with the solution immediately evident, so it's just a matter of getting the timing right. There are some harder levels near the end of the game, although some of these are given away by the help page, or by marks drawn on the level telling you exactly what to do. It's unusual to see such hand-holding near the end of a game. Still, Spacelings kept my interest, right to the final levels, with it's tractor-beaming action.
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