#54 Mad Planets

Posted: 7th February 2012 by Mulholland in Games
Tags: , , ,

121st played so far

Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1983
Developer: Gottlieb
Publisher: Gottlieb

Have you ever watched or heard something and thought that it would make for a fantastic computer game? I know I have. Too many times to be completely honest. (If a developer ever reads this please make a kick-ass game using the music from Sleigh Bell’s debut album Treats).

Like painfully too few people in the UK I am a massive fan of the long-cancelled animated series Invader Zim. This show and the insane robot character GIR has given me hours upon hours of entertainment. Anyway, I am reminded of an episode of Invader Zim since there is so much in an episode entitled ‘Battle of the Planets’ that appears to have been inspired by this game Mad Planets.

In this game you are a ship fighting a series of planets that come at you in eccentric orbits as they throw their moons at you. Why convert your planet into a navigatable battleship? According to some extinct aliens in Invader Zim: “because it’s cool”

Our Thoughts

That explanation from Peter already gave away part of what I wanted to say. You see, that’s the game. You’re a planet-sized ship trying to blow up rapidly growing planets before they throw their moons at you and destroy you. Luckily, your missiles can destroy moons and planets (although if they grow too large, the planets may require several blasts to destroy… if they don’t hit the moon the planets are shielded by instead). There are also comets for you to shoot down as well as some poor troubled astronauts that need saving.

To do this, you can move in all four directions, have unlimited fire power and can (unusual compared to most games) rotate as well. This last bit is the most interesting and confusing, as the rotation can quickly get confusing… I might have abandoned that after a while and shoot in only one direction. As a control option, however, it’s very interesting. The fact is that in order to progress really far in this game you really need to master the rotate option. There are times when planets will begin to glow red and then start to follow you around the screen at an increasingly rapid pace and it will attempt to destroy you from your blind side… it is then where knowing how to rotate will save your ship and the astronauts you have rescued.

The game, beyond that, is a manic shooter – keep firing, avoid the planets, and hope they die before you do. As the planets, when grown, require multiple hits to kill, while colliding with a planet or moon kills you instantly, the game encourages you to kill the planets while they’re still small, which could result in a perfect score.

While the graphics are fairly simple, they are very colourful and make the planets seem positively mad. Chaotic. Possibly slightly evil. All in all reaching higher levels, with their different planets, are a nice small reward as well. I am also a big fan of the music and sounds, it is not a big point but it made us smile in all it’s retro glory.

While it’s an old manic shooter, this is also a really fun one. It’s just a shame that the unique controls meant it could never be properly ported to another platform… something we’ll have to keep hoping for for another time. Possibly, with new control method being developed now with the new platforms, this might lead to this shooter making a return. It would certainly be worth it.

Final Thoughts

Mad Planets really does what it says on the tin, there are planets and they are pretty bleeding mad. As with many manic shooters (including DoDonPachi) this game is alarmingly addictive since there is always that ‘one more play’ which will lead to that ever higher score… stupid video games.

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