On first inspection, Planet Crashers is the cute, warm and whimsical RPG world you would expect from Mutant Mudds developer Renegade Kid, providing a shot of humour, quirkiness and style to an already crowded and tired genre. However, much like other adventure RPGs lining our shelves at the moment, Planet Crashers is very much a case of style over substance. While there are plenty of quests to complete, enemies to battle and galaxies to explore, it's debatable whether the whole ordeal is actually fun or just a slow-paced, mundane grind cloaked in a cutesy art style.
The aim is to level up your hero’s fighting skills, by travelling to different planets and completing quests, eventually becoming strong enough to take down the evil forces that plan to destroy the sun. Exciting, right? Well, it would be if the gameplay wasn’t so very slow-paced. You begin unarmed, and obtain weapons by competing certain quests from townsfolk or from the jobs board. Humorously, the first weapons you earn are a banana and a giant pencil, used to fight off ‘Crazy Chris’ and the other dungeon-lurkers.
The combat features a simplified turn-based mechanic, allowing you to attack your foes with one of your four interchangeable skill sets. You can also press the A button when indicated to administer a stronger attack. The combat’s main flaw is that you can actually avoid fighting altogether. Your character moves slightly faster than the enemies, allowing you to scamper away from battles completely unscathed, and still earn the necessary points by completing quests. This wouldn’t be a problem if the rewards of winning a fight were more encouraging, but Planet Crashers simply doesn’t provide players with a great enough incentive to take on unnecessary battles.
Sadly you can only take on one quest at a time, meaning that even if ‘Sam’s lost cheese’ is in the next room you can’t quickly nab it. Once the quest is completed the game urges you to return home and save, sometimes warping you out of a dungeon to do so. Initiating quests can also be a bit of a pain at first, as even if you opt to ‘add’ a request, you must then remember to ‘take’ the request before you enter the dungeon, otherwise the game will not even register that you are intending to do the mission.
Setting aside these complaints, the environment is extremely charming; it has a spherical setting, which rolls with you as you adventure across it. With five main planets to explore, each with their own unique theme, and a further four smaller sub-planets, there is a lot of discovering to be done. There is a ‘Sweet Cheese’ planet, decorated with sweets and gingerbread men, and dungeons filled with evil Father Christmases. Each world benefits from the use of 3D, as pushing up the 3D slider gives the in-game surroundings fantastic depth and beauty.
A nice feature is that you can customise your hero, with options to alter eyes, skin colour, gender, name and outfit. Many options remain locked, giving you a greater incentive to grind through the harder levels. For example, our Planet Crasher was clad in American football attire. The multiplayer feature is somewhat disappointing, providing 3DS owners with only one-on-one battles, instead of the co-op gameplay and bonus rewards included in the iOS version.
Overall, Planet Crashers offers a simplified RPG experience for those not looking for the next Tales of the Abyss. Armed with humour and a cute, quirky art style, Renegade Kid does its best to cover up the flaws of the gameplay and combat system, instead focusing on providing plenty of quests and short bursts of action for the casual, younger market. Given the weighty download fee of £9 / $9.99, you may wish to wait until the price drops, however.