Developer: NeatWare Grzegorz Kiernozek
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Genre: Adventure, Platformer, Action, Arcade
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on mobile devices)
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Release Date: 15/01/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
Solar Blast is an arcade-style game that has the player protecting a sun in the centre of the screen. To keep the sun from burning out, move a shield around the sun and prevent it from taking damage.
How did we get here?
Solar Blast does not feature any story elements. Considering it is a small arcade title, this does not seriously impact the game. However, a brief explanation of what the sun is being attacked by or why the player is defending it would help the player feel more immersed in the world. As if this were not bad enough already, the game does not have any closure. After completing the unique levels featured in the game, there is an endless number of additional levels the player can traverse. While encouraging the endless mode is good, thrusting the player into it without rolling credits or acknowledging the completion of the game diminishes the accomplishment the player just achieved. Story elements, though not required, engage the player in the game. Choosing to omit crucial aspects of a game such as a premise and credits devalue the experience the game provides.
Although the game does not feature a traditional story structure, the developers included level names to many of the levels. Early levels contained unique level names, highlighting content added in the newest levels. These showed the player the new mechanic or idea implemented and enticed them to continue progressing. Additionally, after completing or failing a level, the developers included quotes that encourage the player to go on. These quotes ranged from congratulatory remarks to challenging the player to beat level one hundred. While both systems added to Solar Blast, neither were particularly engaging. The level names began repeating as soon as endless mode began and the end of level remarks were bland and repetitive. While a good idea conceptually, the lack of personality and repetition of the same comments degraded the potential of these additions.
Guardians of the Sun
Often a game that has poor story design can be salvaged by the gameplay. The gameplay on offer in Solar Blast is mediocre. While controlling the shield around the sun does not get incredibly challenging, the game does offer some unique gameplay.
The player controls a shield that orbits around the sun and defends it from inbound projectiles. In doing so there are powerups that boost the player’s capabilities. Additional width and shields make defending the sun easy! Unfortunately, they make levels too easy. Especially in endless mode where every powerup is consistently given to the player, completing each level becomes a task rather than a challenge. While the powerups provided do not reflect player skill, there are in depth systems implemented in Solar Blast. Blocking an enemy deflects the projectile away from the sun. If the deflected projectile collides, with another projectile, collateral damage causes a chain reaction. This design choice encourages the player to bounce multiple enemies off each other. Sadly, the level design never required that the player master this skill and one of the most unique and enjoyable elements of the game was rarely utilized.
In addition to underwhelming gameplay decisions, the enemy designs were disappointing as well. These enemies are white shapes that come towards you at varying speeds. While most enemies come directly towards the player, some of these enemies invite strategy. For example, one enemy bounces off the shield and needs to be blocked a second time after it rebounds. Attacking this ball from the correct part of the platform ensures the ball will bounce to an area that can be reached by the player. This variety motivated the player to see what other enemies the game had to offer. Unfortunately, the variety on offer was simply not enough. There were too few intricate enemies, and even those that were dynamic were never placed in situations where the player needed to be worried about them. Solar Blast failed to make each level distinct, due to a lack of innovative enemies.
Here Comes the Sun
The sound design on offer in Solar Blast is fine. It is repetitive and annoying to listen to for long periods of time, but it does not ruin the experience. The sound design is not a draw to the game, but it serves the purpose.
Never look directly at the sun
The visuals are one of the most underwhelming elements of the game. Creative enemy designs, player models and suns would have increased the quality of the game significantly. Furthermore, making the shield look alive would have made the game more enjoyable. Simply adding a robot that holds the shield would immerse the player more than a floating shield, as it emphasizes the human nature, and that the player is the one in control. The lack of personality in the game isolates the player from the game world and discourages immersion.
Despite the solid foundation of a game, there are too few fully fleshed out ideas for me to recommend purchasing Solar Blast. The developers are distributing this game for free on the app store, and at that price point it is a decent time-waster. Unfortunately, this game is not worth the £4.49 listing price. Although this review was negative, and I do not recommend purchasing this game, I did enjoy some of the time I spent with Solar Blast, but I cannot say that I truly had a blast!
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase Solar Blast from the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.