Orbit Review—Lost in Space

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The Internet and iPhone App Store are full of games like Kitten Cannon, Learn to Fly and other titles of similar gameplay, with a lot of them being popular and successful, and some even earning a fan base. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Yeti Sports: Pingu Throw wasn’t that successful, but there hasn’t been any game like it on the PSP since—that is, until now, with Orbit, the latest game by British developer Laughing Jackal, hitting the PSN Store.

The National Space Programme has suffered a few cutbacks in funding due to the credit crunch and in actual fact has no money whatsoever. However, two less-than-gifted scientists have a solution to the problem. How? By collecting chunks of gold that are inexplicably floating around a variety of planets in space, of course. And how are they going to collect the gold? Well, by simply firing themselves out of a cannon and flapping like crazy to collect the gold—obviously.

The game starts off with the scientists explaining the general lack of funds for the space programme and how they (with your help) are going to solve it. However, the game does take a little while to actually take off (excuse the pun), with an awful lot of dialogue to sift through before you do anything, and even though it does set a good base for the story, the constant back-and-forth banter between the scientists really becomes quite boring. Still, there are a few moments of humour between the duo, like when one of them has a theory that everything they are doing is not in their control and, in fact, feels as if someone were doing everything for them.

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In your initial attempts to collect the gold, you are launched from a cannon with nothing but your arms and a couple of plastic wings strapped to you to help your fundraising efforts.  After a few attempts, you are able to upgrade your flight apparatus to increase your launch distance and the range of your gold collector, and you receive a radar and even wipers to clear any sludge from the screen.  I did like the different ships you had when you traveled from planet to planet. My favourite would have to be the giant slingshot that launches a toilet with rockets strapped to it.

As if it weren’t hard enough just trying to collect the gold floating around the various planets’ atmospheres, you also have to avoid floating lumps of trash and even a legion of aliens who are also out to collect that precious ore. However, the aliens do more than slow you down. There are three kinds: the ones who spray green goo over your screen, the ones that drain your boost and, the worst, the ones that steal your precious gold. Other than collecting gold around various planets and upgrading your craft, there are also blueprints scattered around the planets for you to collect, and like a lot of Minis titles now, there are also achievements for you to earn to try and stretch the lifespan of the game.

The controls are basic, with the game only requiring the use of a single button through most of it, from launching yourself to flapping your arms to keep you aloft. I was a little disappointed with the fact that there is no way of controlling your launch trajectory. Which, when added to the fact that every time you launch on the same planet all the obstacles and gold are in exactly the same place, makes the game get very repetitive very fast. I kept finding myself getting increasingly fed up by the fact that every time I hit the perfect launch on Mars, I would ALWAYS hit the same alien ship, which would reduce my thrust.

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Don’t expect anything amazing in the graphical department. Sure, the cartoon style does suit the game’s persona, but it just feels as though maybe Laughing Jackal just couldn’t be bothered to really try anything special. That’s not to say the graphics are bad, but they are certainly far from groundbreaking. The sound is pretty much the same as the graphics; sure, the BGM fits with the game, but there really isn’t a decent variety.

Laughing Jackal seem to have played it safe with this one. They haven’t tried anything special or attempted to push the boundaries and have just stuck with something tried and true. The graphics are average and the gameplay fairly basic, with a so-so story line. If you have a few minutes to kill, Orbit can do that for you, but then again, so can a good book, too.

5.5/10

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Comments

9 Responses to “Orbit Review—Lost in Space”
  1. onmode-ky says:

    Hmm. It appears Orbit really didn’t resonate with Dan, despite all the addictive aspects I’ve heard about it. Even Laughing Jackal’s first efforts using actual characters and story (Fighting Fantasy titles aside) didn’t go over well with him.

  2. Ofaliss says:

    Yeah, this is pretty much the total opposite of what people have said in the forums.

  3. Nexus Prime says:

    For a Mini I would give this an 8.5. It’s a good diversion and fun to play. One of my favorites. Yes it’s repetitive, but it’s not a store bought $40-$60 game. It’s $3.49. Meant to be played in small doses. BTW I liked the art style and as for the “boring” chatter, it can be skipped, right? What about all the other games that have no real style and no dialog and barely any decent gameplay that get a higher score than 5.5.

    Ignore this review and give it a shot.

  4. chapnis says:

    I’d give this game an 8/10.

  5. evanac says:

    Hey guys.

    Thanks for the backup!

    I’ve heard from a few places that the story can be funny but it’s too long (yep a skip button IS included to instantly skip via pressing Start, so you might want to give that a try Dan!) ;)

    Hopefully you guys will like Hungry Giraffe – it has no story line!

    I don’t know if we’ll try a minis game with storyline again – it was a lot of personal effort for not that much pay off. Let me know what you think in the forum maybe?

    In terms of a lack of ambition I can see how you could come to that conclusion but we’ve never done a game with so much art before and marrying the one touch flight genre to upgrades on such a scale was really tough. I guess it works out for some people and not so much for others! :D

    Cheers for now,

    Al

  6. sniper712 says:

    fun little game despite some flaws pointed out, and HG does have a story: giraffe Melman EATS his way up to the heavens where divine food awaits him…

  7. onmode-ky says:

    I for one hope you don’t stop with the storylines, Al.

  8. I loved the game. The first few minutes I thought, ugh. Then soon I became addicted. The story really helped to keep me drawn in. It made the game funny, a bit like ASS For 2 Bucks. Without it, I wouldn’t have had half the fun I did.

  9. Daniel says:

    I don’t get this game. How do you actually control your character once he’s been launched? All I ever seem to do is free-fall and get no further than about 5km.

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