I do not envy Halfbrick. After creating at least two of the biggest gaming sensations on the App Store, the pressure to make more hits must be pretty immense. It doesn’t seem to phase them one bit, however, and that’s a good thing. In fact, a lot of the studio’s charm stems from the fact that they nearly always seem to be doing whatever the hell they want, and that attitude shines bright in their latest release, Colossatron: Massive World Threat (out now, $0.99). I mean, it’s about a giant robotic snake-dragon from outer space bent on destroying the Earth. Not exactly one for the Fruit Ninjacrowd, but man, is it awesome anyway.
Colossatron is a match-three puzzler where your job is to… no, wait. It’s a strategy game based on Snake, see, and… er. Okay, take Zuma and mash it with Nimble Quest… You see where this is going. Halfbrick took a handful of tried and true game types and painted them up in their signature “Barry Steakfries” art style and somehow made it all work remarkably well.
Each stage begins with a news bulletin announcing the arrival of Colossatron, the aforementioned robotic snake-dragon from space. Floating alongside the creature are several pods made of primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) which you can attach between the beast’s head and tail. If you put different colors next to each other — say, blue and red — they’ll combine to make a brand new color (purple, for those who missed that day in kindergarten). Match three of the same color and you’ll get an upgraded version of that pod.
Once you land on Earth and start slithering around you’ll start collecting more colored pods to attach. Each of the six different colors are like a different tower in a tower defense game, shooting or freezing or healing or blowing things up. The strategy, then, is mixing and matching colors along the “snake” to get the best load-out for the job. And what is that job? Why, obliterating everything in sight, of course!
However, it’s not quite that easy. The aptly named General Moustache has made it his personal mission to bring you down by throwing entire militaries at you. Planes, tanks, drones, and turrets soon begin crowding the screen and, if you haven’t been smart about your colors, you’ll soon be destroyed. Making things even more difficult is Halfbrick’s rather ballsy decision to not let you control Colossatron’s movement, meaning all you do in each round is match colors. Wait, wait! Come back! It actually works incredibly well, and makes the experience much simpler and more enjoyable.
Another interesting thing about these color pods is that they change every 24 hours, meaning almost every time you play you’ll have access to different abilities. For instance, when you start the game your green pod may be a laser cutter, but hours later it could suddenly be a healer. It’s similar to how League of Legends works, letting you try out different “free” pods and then permanently locking down the ones you like with prisms, the game’s premium currency. Unfortunately prisms are a bit rare, so if you want to unlock every single different pod it could take a while. However, I’ve had a blast using whatever pod type is freely available at any time and I actually find myself preferring that element of randomness each day.
A few other nice touches round out the experience, like the gadgets that give you extra abilities after each city is destroyed, and the survival mode that lets you play as far as you can once you’ve grown tired of destroying the world over and over (though unfortunately there are no Game Center leaderboards in-game). It’s actually surprisingly difficult to find anything really wrong with Colossatron, all in all. It just works. It may not be as accessible as Fruit Ninja or as addicting as Jetpack Joyride, but it still ends up being a hugely satisfying game.
iFanzine Verdict: Despite being cobbled together from various other game types, Colossatron: Massive World Threat from Halfbrick Studios somehow feels entirely original. It also happens to be an absolute blast to play once you look past the simple color matching and see the surprising depth and strategy within. The lack of in-game leaderboards for Game Center and the rarity of the premium currency is a little disappointing, but those things are minor annoyances overall. Colossatron is an awesome game, and the 99 cent price tag is a totally fair price to destroy the world.