Metara Review—Fun Idea, Not Fully Realized

MetaraTitle1

Metara is one of those Minis that seemingly spring out of nowhere. Or in this case, Sweden. From the name I surmised that it might involve a meter maid-themed superhero. But, instead, it’s a combination of two genres we’ve seen a lot of—scrolling shooter and tower defense. Although Who’s That Flying?! claimed that combination, it’s far more applicable here.

Gameplay takes place on a top-down view of a small area of a planet rendered in 3D polygons. You control a flying ship and start at your futuristic-looking base. At first, your ship is your base’s only defense, but as you destroy enemies with your ship’s cannon (fired by hitting or holding down X), you earn money which you can use to buy defenses for your base or to repair your ship, which takes damage once your regenerating shields are exhausted.

Starting off from your base

Starting off from your base

Once you feel your base is safe enough, you can go on the offensive with your ship. Enemy bases are protected by turrets (just like the ones you built), as well as by the enemy units they spit out towards your base. They will decide to attack you instead when they spot you flying by. So, hit-and-run tactics seem to work the best. You can’t loiter too much though; you have only 400 seconds to complete a stage.

How your ship moves reminds me a lot of the old arcade game Sinistar. It’s not quite as floaty, but you do have a noticeable amount of inertia. Terrain is a factor; it doesn’t hurt you—you simply bounce off it—but it controls where you can go. Sometimes an enemy base will only be reachable through a small corridor, which can make things tricky.

On the attack

On the attack

There are four different worlds, with five stages on each world. These are not connected in any way, as there’s no story or plot or anything like that. You simply need to beat one stage to unlock the next. It keeps your high score for that stage. There are no unlockables or achievements. Each planet has different terrain, and while each successive planet gets more difficult, you can actually start on any of the four planets.

The graphics are not great, but they are serviceable (and look better than the screenshots here). The music is also unremarkable in a New Age-y sort of way. It’s actually a fairly quiet game, with small sound effects for the shooting of cannons and only slightly louder ones for when the shots hit.

World select screen

World select screen

Information on the developer, AE Interactive Studios AB, is quite scant, essentially just a placeholder website, a few six-month-old entries on Facebook, and resumes of employees. But, it seems to be somehow related to a game programming school, Playground Squad. And indeed, in many ways, this seems like a school project, feeling more like a framework of a game than anything else.

That’s not to say that it’s not playable. It is, and it’s actually pretty fun. I am not really a fan of Tower Defense games because I don’t really like watching games play themselves, so something like this that puts the TD elements in the background is nice.

Actual graphics are not this murky

Actual graphics are not this murky

On the other hand, the TD aspect is really simplified; on your base’s towers, you simply have a choice of two different types of weapons and what stance they use. Your ship actually uses a stance as well. Basically, you can choose whether to fire normally, faster but weaker, or slower but stronger. So, there is a small amount of strategy involved. But not much.

If it had been fully fleshed out, this could have been a really good game. As it is, it’s enjoyable, but there isn’t really much to come back to once you’ve beaten all the stages. Some of them take all 400 seconds to beat, but many can be beaten in half the time, so there is maybe an hour or two of gameplay here.

6.5/10

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Comments

9 Responses to “Metara Review—Fun Idea, Not Fully Realized”
  1. sp3c says:

    might get this just because I can

    sounds reasonable

  2. CecilMcW00t says:

    Reminds me of Herzog Zwei.

  3. JeremyR says:

    Well, it’s far, far, far, far simpler than that, you can only build towers to defend your base, not units to help you.

  4. onmode-ky says:

    Kind of ironic that a “fairly quiet game” can remind someone of Sinistar. :) I HUNGER!!! I LIVE!!! RUN, COWARD!!! RRRAAAAAAAAUUUUGGHH!!! One of the most talkative arcade games of all time.

    Regarding the name of this game, it reminds me of two things: 1. the Mutara Nebula of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and 2. the Metallion, the ship from the MSX game Gradius 2 (not Gradius II).

  5. JeremyR says:

    Well as I said, it was just the way the ship moves that reminded me of it.

  6. badersolo says:

    don’t download it for free

  7. onmode-ky says:

    JeremyR, yes, I know; if you had said that it was actually the sound that reminded you of Sinistar, then that wouldn’t have been irony; that would have just been fallacy. :)

    badersolo, wow, you’re encouraging people to steal something that costs 3.99 Euros? Are you on welfare, or is pretending to be living below the poverty line just what the cool kids do these days?

  8. sp3c says:

    the guys at frima had something to say about that

    not sure what it was but it had the word douchebaggery in it

  9. volcane says:

    I’m not a particulaly huge fan of TD games but this (a) simplifies the traditional TD elements drastically, and (b) adds in an arcade element.

    I think this sounds like an interesting mix so I’m going to buy it! :-)

    Nice review – many thanks Jeremy.

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