Space Colors [$0.99] makes a simple bet: that blowing stuff up in space, amongst a rainbow colorful explosions, is its own reward. That just doing that, with only cursory guidance as to what to do next, is enough to make for a fun game. While perhaps the meta-game of missions and perfromance is somewhat lacking, there's a lot of enjoyment to be had from just playing the game itself.
This is somewhat of a roguelike-inspired space shooter: players command a ship that they fly around different planets in solar systems, completing various missions, while trying to survive the various enemy ships' assaults. Credits can be collected and spent on permanent upgrades to the ship. There's no IAP here, don't worry. Credits are earned a bit slowly at first, but through playing more and more, they start to accumulate, and the game really starts to open up once at least the first tier of upgrades are bought.
The controls are handled by single taps, with tapping to move to a spot, holding to continually fly in that direction, and tapping on objects and enemies to target them. Firing is automatic, and the game makes it such that it's possible to tap on an enemy and then tap elsewhere to fly to that spot while still targeting them, allowing for circle strafing to dodge fire. The game gets awfully chaotic, and can be hard in a chaotic fight to aim and move in a proper strategic fashion, but generally, just frantically tapping will get the job done.
And it's those chaotic fights that provide most of the game's fun. Ever get into the middle of a battle between two warring factions, with dozens of ships fighting at one time? That happens with regularity in this game. Blowing up enemies isn't always the objective, but as the game goes on, a massive firefight will be instigated with survival necessary in order to continue.
These fights just do not get old. Having to destroy enemies from all sides, including giant turrets, ship-spawning carriers, and the occasional enemy base? It's really quite exhilarating, because survival is never guaranteed. Thankfully, plenty of health pickups are dropped, and these fights tend to be quite lucrative as far as credits go. The occasional bomb or weapon upgrade that drops can be crucial to survival as well. But just being smart enough to not get surrounded, always having an escape plan, and taking out the big threats can go a long way. And managing all that while in a neon-splattered landscape is quite fun to do.
The issue is that the meta-game surrounding Space Colors is a bit lacking. The missions on each planet, part of the game's progression, vary from the exciting, like taking out an enemy base, to the mundane, such as fetching a space crate, or flying to a specific spot. The missions are not the exciting part of the game at all: they're merely the way that the game justifies having all these exciting spaceship fights. Really, the game could have just been score-based, being about surviving as long as possible and collecting high scores, with little other motivation than just survival, and it would work just as well, I surmise. Right now, there's the ability to tweet progress, but no Game Center leaderboards or anything to compete with others, though apparently that functionality will be added with an update soon.
Still, I can look past that, because hey â collecting a bomb and watching it light up the screen as all the enemies I weakened are destroyed in a display worthy of the 4th of July never gets old, even if there's little functional point to doing so.
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