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iPhone  header logo

Plax


For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Pellet popping

Product: Plax | Developer: 3Arts Studio | Publisher: 3Arts Studio | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Arcade | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0.2
 
Plax iPhone, thumbnail 1
When you start playing Plax, it feels a little counter-intuitive.

See that big blob at the centre of the screen? The one that's being bombarded by little pips? That's not you. It's your enemy.

You control the two little satellites stuck in a tight orbit around that blob, and it's your goal to catch those nourishing pips for yourself. It's an interesting inversion of the classic 'fend off waves of attacks' mechanic.


All right, all right, keep your shirt on

It becomes even more interesting, not to mention challenging, when you realise that you need to watch out for reprisals from the hungry blob itself.

It isn't too happy about you pinching its pellets, so it sends out little triangular projectile attacks to blow you out of the sky.

You have to avoid these rockets unless you have five pellets stored in your circle, at which point you can destroy them. The central blob also sends out its own circles to hunt you down, but you can bash these out of the sky if you have the greater number of pellets stashed.

What ensues is a frantic game of multi-tasking, as you keep one eye on the area outside of your orbit and the other on the tiny amount of air space in between your little circular catching mitts and the blob.

Various temporary power-ups and enemy attack methods make things even more hectic.


Zzzzap

As has become the way with these trendily masochistic arcade games, Plax makes this all the trickier by ramping up the speed and intensity of the whole thing to headache-inducing levels.

You'll die a lot. You always do in these games. But the mark of its success is that you'll hit the restart button without question, at least initially.

Of course, how many times you come back for punishment will vary depending on your pain/patience threshold. Mine isn't particularly high, and Plax's core mechanic wasn't quite tactile or accurate enough to keep dragging me back beyond the first hour or two.

The control system needs to be absolutely water tight on games like these, so that there's no risk of you directing any blame or rage towards the game's perceived flaws.


You'll see this screen often - hopefully with a better score

So it proves with Plax. On iPhone, you touch on either side of your two circles, one per thumb, and drag them with a direct 1:1 movement ratio. That works fine, except that your thumbs are always covering large portions of the screen, leading to the age-old blind spot problem.

The developer has come up with a work-around, but it's far from perfect. This involves a super-sensitive alternative control method where you only need small thumb movements at the corners of the screen, prompting heavily exaggerated movement from your circles.

Now you can see the field of play much more clearly, but the movement isn't as precise as before.

Precision and clarity are two vitally important aspects of any twitch game, and Plax doesn't quite get either element spot on - at least not in combination with the other.

Plax is a fairly novel twitch arcade game, and will appeal to those enthralled by the hardcore highscore-chasing thrills of Super Hexagon and its ilk. But its control system doesn't quite form the rock-solid foundation it needs to.
 
Plax
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 7 May 2014
A bright and challenging twitch arcade game with a pair of compromised control systems that damage its long-term appeal
 
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