Quickie: Meganoid (Android Version)

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Meganoid is a retro style platformer for Andrioid and iPhone by Orange Pixel. Aliens have invaded the planet and you are the only hero left to stop them. It’s free to download on the former so I’ve given it a go and here are some quick thoughts.

I was very wary beginning the game given that I was playing this on my keyboard-less smartphone. I do not like touch only controls at all in anything traditional. Not having feedback from controls for me is just very detrimental to a game like this, which is a twitchy platformer where every jump counts. So I was surprised that the game controls quite well here. It’s very simplistic given that there’s only one jump button and a d-pad. The bottom screen controls don’t get in the way as long as you don’t have giant hands and while they can never be as precise as physical buttons, they do the job in game. As I said, this is the type of game where every jump counts and I’ve never found myself blaming the controls for the many times I’ve died. A cool feature too is that if you have an Android phone with a keyboard or D-Pad in the Xperia Play’s case then you can use that too.

As you may have gotten a hint of from the death comment, it’s also one of those perfection style, fast movement platformers most familiar to me in Super Meat Boy. While it’s not nearly as fast as that is, there about 90 levels that can be completed in the beginning in about 10-20 seconds and later 30-60 seconds. You’re also competing for a high score and stars here as collecting all of the diamonds in a level will get you a star (not all of them are in plain sight), as will completing a level within the time limit.

Of course, it’s not as easy as I make that sound. It is to begin with, with only minor pits to cross and the occasional enemy, but the later levels only get more and more complicated as the environments also change.. To make things easier there’s a three life system and when you die it’ll remember what you accomplished, but it still sends you to the beginning of the level and if you lose all three lives, you have to start the level again from scratch. The good thing is that like these good twitch platformers, it doesn’t get frustrating and really gets you into that mood of one more try or one more level. The fact that it’s on a smartphone only helps really, as it’s on a system that’s designed to be something used for a few minutes while you’re bored or on the bus. Or on the toilet. You can blast through a few levels, have a little fun, and get back to whatever else you’re doing.

The only problem I have is that the character is useless against enemies without a box. Boxes can be found in levels with enemies and they are automatically thrown. This is handy, but it completely breaks away from the conventional idea of jumping on your enemies to kill them. Even Super Meat Boy had that. It’s not really even a problem, just a design choice, but if you die in a level while holding a box, then it’s lost forever until you start from scratch. In some levels, areas are impassable because there are enemies in the way, so you literally have to kill yourself until you run out of lives. It’s more of a level design fault for some levels which does need addressing. Either that or boxes should reappear after every death.

And that’s all I have to say about Meganoid. It’s a genuinely fun platformer to kill some time with and has some lovely pixel graphics to boot. It’s not as mindbogglingly devious as Super Meat Boy but it’s not just a platformer with a win button because it’s on a smartphone. Package that in with 90 levels and replay value and you’ve got yourself a time killer that’s very much worth it for free or for $0.99 on iPhone. You can find the game on each platform’s respective marketplaces.

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