By March 2, 2012

Gravity Burst – an Ascending Empires Clone for Android OS First Impressions

I own Ascending Empires, a board game that pits up to four players against each other in a race to dominate the galaxy. The game requires a mix of tactical thinking and dexterity, as players move their spaceships around by flicking them with their fingers. I am in the process of writing up my feelings about the actual board game.

I noticed that Amazon’s free app of the day is Gravity Burst, which is appeared to be styled like Ascending Empires. The planets and background look the same, and the spaceship you control is a similar, although not exact, shape.

Gravity Burst’s description alludes to the dexterity aspect of the game: careful aiming, the use of the finger to launch spaceships, and an understanding of physics. Ascending Empires is heavy on my brain, so between the description and the visual style of the game I figured Galaxy Burst was a clone of the board game. There are other instances of this, including many clones of the card game Dominion.

I was wrong, but Gravity Burst is still fun — especially when it’s free.

Gravity Burst shares some design elements with Ascending Empires, but the similarities stop there.

Gravity Burst is straightforward: defend your space station against attackers by launching a salvo of missiles at them. The enemies don’t shoot back, and all of the game pieces stay in place (except for the missiles, of course).

You launch your defense ship by tapping and holding on the virtual D-pad in the bottom left corner of the screen. You can slide your ship around the space station’s orbit (another similarity to Ascending Empires, except in AE you orbit the planets). You may rotate the ship by twisting your finger. A number of missiles equal to the number of enemies fire once you let go.

The missiles are influenced by the gravity of any nearby planets. In the case of the level shown above, you would have to arc a pair of missiles so that they strike both ships without hitting the planet, station, or asteroid field.

There are around 90 missions for Gravity Burst, and as with most puzzle games the levels get progressively harder. There is a campaign mode that takes you through every level, as well as quick start and local co-op modes.

Gravity Burst is a nifty little game, and I can’t fault it for my mistaken hope that it was a clone of Ascending Empires.

Is it worth $0.99? Sure — it’s less than half of a cup of coffee, and if you like this type of game Gravity Burst has enough levels for you to get your money’s worth. However, if you download Gravity Burst from the Amazon App Store today (March 2, 2012), you can get it for free — and that’s my kind of price.


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