08/07/2017

☆ Review: Missile Cards "Hear That Hydraulic CLUNK" ☆ #GameDev

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Missile Cards - PC

Missile Cards is a card-based take on the 80’s ‘Missile Command’ formula, it works but perhaps this particular formula is better-suited to mobile gaming (whilst writing this review I discovered that the game is due to be released on mobile devices ASAP, which is where I feel it will find it’s market)

I must say that I found the tutorial completely baffling and panicked somewhat upon starting my first game but it’s turn-based style only took a few minutes of gameplay to figure out and within moments I was hips deep in the unforgiving Missile Card world.

"As you can see from the above screenshot, my score is VERY impressive, tell your friends."

The left side of the screen shows a visual representation of the game world, most of the action takes place on the right-hand side of the screen. Cards pop out of the ‘hangar’ (with a really satisfying, hydraulic ‘CLUNK!’) and dictate your available moves. Guns and missiles numbered from 1-4 can be placed in the top four boxes to be charged up and used to attack meteors which also vary in strength, batteries can be used to speed up the charge of weaponry and scans. And meteors, when they reach the far-right of the conveyor-belt, appear on the screen to the left and need to be shot down before they reach your domed bases at the bottom. The ‘49’ at the right of the screen dictates how many cards are left in the deck before the round is over. To use cards you drag them from the conveyor belt to the top of the screen, only four cards can be in use at any time. Your action points (AP) need to be managed in order to make certain moves, as the game continues this becomes key to your success.
You also collect coins from blowing up meteors, these coins are stored between levels and can be spent, adding extra cards to the deck or upgrades to your base.

The chiptune music used in Missile Cards is a great throwback to the eighties with it’s dark, moody NES-eque tones, unfortunately, the in-game soundtrack, where you will spend most of your time is a couple of minutes long and doesn’t really vary so I did find myself tiring of it after a while, due to the amount of time spent replaying levels, it would have been preferable to have variation in the music to offer more of a sonic range.

Graphics are chunky and clear, fitting perfectly with the musical accompaniment and the era of gaming that Missile Cards evokes with its aesthetics and gameplay.

Each game in MC is randomised and whilst this offers high replayability, it’s also where the game could fall down for some people due to the grinding involved.

On the Missile Cards’ website, it states ‘This game is hard, yes, that’s intentional’. My issue with this is that yes, the game is difficult, but not in the way that, say, you know if you had replayed your previous round differently that you would have succeeded, Missile Cards is hard in that you needed a better-randomised deck to work with or perhaps needed to farm more coins to unlock extra upgrades in order to proceed, so there is an element of grinding involved. This ties in with the start of my review in that I definitely feel that Missile Cards plays as more of a mobile game. I rarely play mobile games and when I do, it’s purely as a time-killer. If Missile Cards was on my phone, I would play it on the commute to work, whilst weeping on the toilet in work, whilst at my desk in work, whilst commuting home from work, whilst in bed thinking about work and, finally, whilst having dreams (or nightmares) about work. Not so much caring if I won or lost a round as the end-game would be to earn enough coins to unlock something that would put the odds in my favour in order to progress through the game. This isn’t wrong or unfair, but I did feel that the bold statement ‘the difficulty is intentional’ is somewhat misleading, a more accurate statement would have been ‘this game requires intentional grinding as part of the game-play’

With that out of the way, I would like to say that Missile Cards is a very solid game and quite addictive, I don’t mind grinding in games if they are fun to play and Missile Cards definitely is, I think I just would have preferred this as a mobile game as opposed to a sit-down PC session. Personally, I find Missile Cards is best enjoyed in a dip-in-and-out way of play.

"Things are not going well here."

In a back-hander to my previous paragraph complaining about the occasional ‘doomed from the start’ rounds, I have to say that when all seems lost and you line up a barrage of meteor-exploding gunfire followed by sucking up all the coins on screen, it genuinely feels exhilarating and tense.

Summary:
Missile Cards is a neat idea for a game and it is for the most part well-realised but the repetitive nature of such simple gameplay with little variation, combined with the looped music and grinding style of play may not be everyone’s cup of tea. 

If I had reviewed this on a mobile device I’m sure this would read very differently due to the expectations inherent in that medium. Missile Cards is by no means a bad game and at a few pounds you will get value from it but this isn’t a game I would play for more than a few days on PC. 

Nathan Meunier has several other games in the pipeline which really grabbed my attention whilst I was doing research for this review and I look forward to playing them, but until then, I’d wait for the mobile port of this one.
RATING: MELTING

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: Nathan Meunier



Reviewed By Britt
(from @kingdomofcarts)