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6th Planet

For: iPhone

Ape escape

Product: 6th Planet | Developer: Monkube | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Arcade | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
6th Planet iPhone, thumbnail 1
"It's life, Jim, but not as we know it."

Pulling from Star Trek might be a hackneyed way to introduce space-faring game 6th Planet, but when it comes to this unique title never have truer words been spoken.

Monkube's world is one of constant surprises, where almost anything is possible. Monkeys are no longer NASA's rocket fodder, instead elevated to the role of primary explorers, stepping onto planets us mortal men can only gaze at from afar.

6th Planet isn't afraid to do things differently, even if its original style doesn't always result in fantastic gameplay.

Monkey business

The idea of Darius the monkey piloting a rocket as it sets out on a mission to boldly go where no man has gone before is as amusing as it is ridiculous, but it's easily topped by the game's premise: Saturn's transformation from a gaseous to a solid planet. The possibility of colonisation by humanity is raised: hence the chimpanzee expedition.

A unique story comes strapped with an equally adventurous design. Gameplay is sandwiched by comic strips that are captivating enough to stand on their own. It's a risky setup, if only because there's little that physically links Darius's adventures in space with the tales told in the comic strips.

Fortunately, the quality of gameplay and nicely rendered comic scenes ensure that it works, albeit curiously. Part of the game's strength lies in the fact that it puts a spin on a familiar game: Atari's arcade classic Lunar Lander.

Soft landing

The idea is to guide Darius's pod to a series of landing spots on Saturn's surface. The controls involve taps to the left and right of the pod, which have the effect of firing it in that particular direction. Pressing at both sides at the same time fires the jet pack at the pod's base, gently pushing it skywards.

The aim is to use said boost sparingly to guide the pod around maze-like stages before finally letting it rest on the ground. Of course, the more you fire its rockets, the more fuel you use: prudence and precaution are the watchwords.

Though the gameplay on its own is worthy of praise, guiding Darius's pod around level after level has the potential to become run-of-the-mill if played at length.

Comic timing

The whole thing, however, is offset by the comic strips, which tell both the story of man's discovery of a solid Saturn and the various political ramifications of such a find.
It's possible to skip them entirely, although 6th Planet is only half the game without them. It's arguably the plot, delivered in some style via some striking animation, that lifts the package as a whole. Its addition means what's here is anything but ordinary.

Indeed, though a second space-age slogan might be ill-advised, it's fair to say 6th Planet is a bit out of this world.
6th Planet
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 9 March 2011
Not immediately a perfect fit, 6th Planet's fusion of Lunar Lander style play with its collection of comic strips proves to be a winning formula in the long run
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