Upon first look, Bad Viking's (Popopop) new title Planet Basher looks like some simplistic ballistics-y physics-y star collecting toy. Take your slowly rotating cannon at the top of the screen, line it up with some stars, and fire. The rocket you launch collects any stars that it touches before it drops off the bottom of the screen. Woohoo. But that was before I bought my first planet.
Once you fire all your shots and collect as many stars as you can, you go to an upgrade shop where you can, among other things, buy planets. So I bought one, placed it on the screen, and went to the next level. I fired my first rocket directly at the planet, and it bounced off! It was then that I realized the true fun of this game. It's about building bounce trails with enough planets to keep your rocket in the air long enough to collect the 200-stars-in-one-level necessary to win the game.
When it comes to spending star dust, there are a number of other opportunities, such as upgrading your rocket's star magnet and the fuel for said magnet. This gadget pulls in stars from all around you in a mass of magnetic attraction, for as long as the fuel holds out. The star shower allows you to make the stars fall faster and more frequently for a limited time. You can also increase the size of any planet on the playing field. All of these objects and upgrades are crucial to completing the mission.
Analysis: Planet Basher is a strong game, the kind that comes out of nowhere and kicks you in the butt. Fortunately, it sticks around to give you a pleasing gaming experience. Planet Basher's game style isn't easy to categorize, but the closest I can come are the pachinko simulators in Japan or PopCap's recent hit Peggle. [Ed. - You might also try John Cooney's Hedgehog Launch for a game with a similar structure.] Bouncy-bounce off of the planets that you've set up, collect as many stars as possible, and upgrade yourself into a position to collect all 200.
Game execution is pretty much flawless. I didn't come across any weird glitches or pockets of questionable game-physics while playing. The ability to shuffle around planets in between rounds is very nice, giving you a chance to close up holes in your rocket shots. Graphics are appropriately bright and bouncy. The music is nice, especially the rock riff used for the main game. Extremely cool, Bad Viking. Keep up the good work!
I've been able to complete the game in 18 rounds. Apparently, good players are completing it in around 10 rounds, while some have even managed it in 5. I guess with a couple of well placed planets, some excellent shots, and a cool hand on the star magnet, it could be possible. Either way, Planet Basher is a blast to play.