Meltdown Moon Review—Fun Moon Rising
As longtime readers of this site know, I love matching games, particularly match-3 games (like Bejeweled). It’s always been something of a disappointment that there were so few of them in the Minis program, and so far, not too many in PlayStation Mobile. So I was looking forward to Meltdown Moon from Thomas Hopper, AKA TACS Games. It’s not the Bejeweled sort where you must swap gems, but closer to Super Collapse or Sega Swirl, where you must simply find existing matches.
It has a twist over the basic formula, quite different from other games I’ve played. The thing doing the matching is an active part of the game, not just a cursor. He’s an astronaut floating in space. You must guide him over to the objects (moons) you want matched by using thrusters in his spacesuit. That would be tricky enough, but you also have to dodge rogue asteroids flying by.
Thankfully, no touchscreen is involved. You simply use the left stick to move him left and right, and X to thrust him upwards (he falls back down slowly on his own). The Square button is used to select the matches, which feels a bit awkward at first, but you get used to it.
Somewhat obviously, the number of asteroids starts off small and increases as the game progresses. But you reduce the number on the screen by chaining combinations of matches. Besides simply matching, you can guide the spaceman to collect stars (which blow up nearby asteroids) and extra lives.
Curiously, there isn’t a display saying how many extra lives you have. I’m not sure if that is good or bad, but it certainly adds some tension when you get hit; you don’t know if it’s game over or not. The hit box for the astronaut is fairly small as well, so asteroids can brush his helmet without killing him.
There are two different modes, Classic and Moonfall. They don’t seem to be too different. Classic is simply play until you run out of lives, while Moonfall is timed and very short. In Classic, empty spaces from matching moons are replaced every few matches you make, while in Moonfall, the moons will fall down, filling empty spaces when you match, making it much more like Sega Swirl or Super Collapse.
It’s got a surprising amount of polish, considering it’s from a one-person studio. For instance, rather than a simple, plain, static pause screen, it’s animated. Does that add much to the game? Not really, but it’s a sign that the developer put his heart into it, not just coding by numbers. On the flip side, there are no achievements or unlockables, just a high score table for each mode. It’s one of those games you play just because it’s fun, not to beat.
The graphics are sharp, if not exceptional. One thing, though: most matching games put different symbols on the objects to be matched (or use different shapes), which lets the game be accessible to people who are colorblind. This does that, too, but it’s very subtle, so much so that I didn’t really even notice it at first.
The sound effects are surprisingly detailed. There are different sounds for the matches you make; there’s a little bit of speech here and there; and, the music is very catchy. At least I found it to be. Only one song that loops over and over, but it’s a good one, so I don’t mind. Then again, I listen to repetitive music, so I am perhaps not the best judge.
Meltdown Moon won’t wow anyone, but it’s a fun game at a very low price. It’s a very interesting twist on the matching genre, making it more like an arcade game. It doesn’t have too many frills, but I don’t think there are any glaring omissions of what you would expect, except perhaps a level or difficulty selection. Games can be kind of long, so it would be nice to have the option to start at a higher level.
In a lot of ways, it reminds me of one of my favorite Minis, Dynogems, though it doesn’t really play much like it, other than being a fast-paced matching game. But it’s reminiscent rather in how it’s one of those pick-up-and-play games you keep going back to.