We've already seen about half a dozen GO Series releases on DSiWare, each offering up an experience that revolves around simplicity from both a visual and gameplay standpoint. While the results from have been mixed, there have been a couple of releases that caught our attention and proved quite accessible and addictive. The newest entry, Earth Saver, sticks fairly close to the series' conventions and once again offers up something unique – and, like its predecessors, it's one with very few bells and whistles.
The main premise behind Earth Saver is quite simple. You take on the role of an astronaut whose job is to use explosives to break off pieces of meteorites headed for Earth. If you can dislodge small enough bits to burn up in the atmosphere, you'll be able to save the planet from utter destruction. And while this idea might sound simple enough, you'll soon find that dealing with this criterion, on top of dangers like alien life forms and a strict time limit, can be quite a handful. If you can succeed in breaking the meteorite down to a small, safe enough size, the door to your rocket ship will open up and you can safely evacuate.
Each time you lay down an explosive, you'll have three seconds to get far enough away to avoid the charge. The blast will then travel in a straight line in all directions until it hits a dead end. Once you've cracked all connected sides of a section of meteorite, it will then drop down to Earth. If it's small enough in size, no damage is done, but drop a section that's too large and it will cause Earth's endurance gauge to begin to fill. Drop too many large chunks of rock, and it's Game Over.
The intuitive and responsive controls make playing the game extremely easy, and the simple premise allows you to focus your efforts on solving puzzles rather than learning an overly complicated set of mechanics. The gradual increase in challenge makes it easy for players of all skill levels to enjoy the experience, and there are quite a few levels of difficulty to choose from as well, which affect everything from the amount of time you have to complete each level to how many aliens with which you'll have to deal. A bit more variety in level design would have been nice, but it's clear that the developers wanted to keep things as basic as possible, and in that sense, they succeeded.
Visually, Earth Saver is quite reminiscent of other releases in the GO Series in the way it tends to keep the characters and scenery quite simple. You'll mostly find yourself staring at a gigantic rock, so don't expect a huge level of graphical detail. There are some colour palette changes to at least give off a subtle hint of level variety, but other than that, things remain fairly standard throughout the adventure.
Much like the visual presentation, the audio effort is equally minimalistic. The main music track is extremely well-done, but it does become a bit tiresome once you've heard it countless times. There are also not a lot of added sound effects to mix things up much. Sometimes less is more, but in this case, less is actually less.
Earth Saver might not be as flashy as some of the other DSiWare puzzlers we've seen, but that doesn't stop it from delivering a fun and inventive challenge. There is a bit of a lack of variety within the overall framework, but the idea ends up staying simple and engaging enough to keep you interested for the duration.