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Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy during this weekend.
Little Galaxy ($0.99 Universal) is a simple one-touch, endless jumper that will have you spinning through the galaxy in no time. If the physics-engine of this game doesn’t pull you in, the stunning graphics and catchy soundtrack certainly will.
Starting the game out as a boy wanting to be a scientist who explores the universe, you find that by just tapping the screen you can jump from one planet to another. Seeing as how the boy is almost as tall as a planet is wide, each jump certainly looks easy. Especially when you have the entire galaxy in the palm of your hand. But looks can be deceiving as you will soon find out.
As you make your way across the galaxy one planet at a time, not only does the planet you are standing rotate, but so does the planet you intend to jump to. Some planets have moons which allow you to take an alternate path from planet to planet, stopping off on one of their satellites first. However, if you miss time the start of one of your jumps, you will be sent flying aimlessly through space. Jumping past a planet will end the game and reset your progress for that level.
With each planet spinning at different rates and in different directions, trying to time your jumps by getting into some sort of rhythm is not possible. You really need to pay attention and time each jump differently. Often times you will find your finger looking for a rhythm and involuntarily tapping the screen at the most inopportune moments. The planets you jump to and from are generated randomly each time you are forced to restart a level. What this means is that you cannot memorize a pattern and keep practicing over and over until you get your timing down just right. Instead you must build your skill at knowing exactly when is the best time to jump.
In the beginning, there are two basic paths through the universe that can score bonus points; the Chain and the Spin. A Chain is defined by a series of colored stars that link one planet to another. Following this path of stars perfectly will result in achieving a Chain which earns bonus points. These same stars can also surround a planet. Remain standing on a planet surrounded by stars long enough will result in earning a Spin which also earns bonus points. Choosing between a Chain or a Spin will depend on what challenges you must achieve for each level.
Each level in the game is defined by three challenges. These challenges can be as basic as earning a certain number of points, achieving a series of Chains, or Spinning on a fair amount of planets before you are flung off into space. Sometimes you will even have to raise a flag on a certain number of planets before progressing to the next stage. Throughout your travels, not only do the challenges become increasingly difficult, so do the jumps. And just when you think you are getting the hang of things you realize that each level is also timed. The darkness is always approaching and once it reaches you the game is over.
Gravity is still a force to be reckoned with even when the planets are this small. You will from time to time encounter a sun that stands between you and the next planet you must jump to. These suns change the path that you need to jump from planet to planet. Knowing exactly when to jump is indicated by how the stars define the path between the two planets. With games like this one, the GameCenter challenges you except to beat a friend’s top score will drive you insane and cause you to jump when you should just stay put.
So take a moment or two this weekend and challenge a friend to race you across this Little Galaxy.