Monday, September 5, 2022

Mad Planets (1983)

Name:Mad Planets
Publisher:D. Gottlieb & Co
Developer:D. Gottlieb & Co
Genre:Top-Down Shooter
Time:30 minutes
Won:Not possible

Mad Planets is an obscure game from an obscure company, best known for Q*Bert, with an insane premise. Instead of your typical space shooters where you fight some evil force or another, you're taking one to those uppity planets. Seems like those evil planets and those evil planetoids inhabiting those evil planets have escaped their rightful justice for too long, and now its time to put a stop to that.

This is a single screen game. Most objects bounce off the walls. Planets come in from the center of the screen, where they start off as little things, and grow into planets that throw asteroids/moons at you. If you shoot all of them before they grow, you get points. They also don't hurt you at in the growing state. I should note that if you die, the planets on-screen approach again, you don't get the points this way. Shoot all the moons of a planet, then shoot the planet.
Every 3 waves you get a stage where you collect astronauts and dodge comets. Die on this stage and it automatically advances. After this, both become a regular staple in the normal waves. Comets sort of chase after you, and as its the only threat here, its advisable to take them out. After a certain number of times spent swinging around, the astronauts and comets leave.
Planets, being the only real enemy here, have curious behavior. They wander around, sometimes throwing a moon at you. The moon just takes a straight shot, and if it misses, it misses, and the planet regrows the moon. Shooting a moon, no matter where it is, always causes it to stop being attached to that planet. If you take out all the moons a planet has, it itself turns into a projectile and chases after you. Like a low-rent Sinistar.
Control-wise the game has a twist on the usual format. You have the expected directions you can move in, along with a fire button. Where it gets twisty is that you also a turn dial...well in my case turn buttons. Its your expected 8 directions. It feels smooth moving, but actually aiming is a bit awkward.
I found the shooting part of the game a bit annoying. You have a range of about a third of the screen and you don't move very fast, meanwhile, the planets move incredibly fast and you have to shoot a small moving target connected to it. I felt like there was an impassable barrier sometime in because of how fast the game got.
From a points perspective, I found that the astronauts were a bit pointless, the real score to be gotten is in clearing out the waves. Funny, maybe Blaster spoiled me, but the way points are dealt out in this game feels so stingy. Outside of getting a perfect wave everything feels so small that you'll practically never get another life.

This reminded me a bit of those boss rush games, where the entire game is centered around fighting bosses. Because the method of destroying the planets is something you would see in a PS2-era bossfight or one of the annoying enemies everyone hated at that time. As such, I don't believe this game ever really had a fair shot at this concept with 1983 technology.

A generic, short-ranged blaster. 1/10

Planets vary in how many moons they have, and then there are comets. 1/10

I feel like a broken record, saying that picking up astronauts doesn't count. 0/10

I'm not impressed by gradually increasing the number of planets and their speed. 0/10

Player Agency:
I found it smooth in theory, but in practice felt incredibly poor. 2/10


Two things went well for it here, the somewhat mad feeling sci-fi setting, and I liked the general setup. Admittedly, in both cases it was just reminding me of better games... 1/10

I liked the look of things. Its not impressive or anything, but it felt pretty well made. 2/10

Is there an actual reason why I'm destroying all these planets? 0/10

Surprisingly high end. Something about the sound here felt like it wouldn't be out of place on a SNES or the Amiga. Not amazing sound, but better than usual. 2/10

That's 9.

Wholly unremarkable, except for the bizarre gimmick.

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