Not quite Asteroids, but close.
Despite taking inspiration from a variety of ancestors, Crumble Zone spins in a new direction. The game feels like four parts Asteroids, one part Space Invaders, with a garnish of Angry Birds Space. At it’s core, though, is a very simple yet addicting one-mode high score chase.
Rotating around a center planetoid, you control a one-man defense force, protecting your home from an onslaught of incoming asteroids. Much like the arcade classic, these asteroids break apart into smaller rocks when you blast them. Every time you connect your cannon with a target, a small explosion will damage or destroy any nearby asteroids, making for some fun chain-reactions. The challenge lies in trying to protect your planet from damage as these hazards come at you from 360 degrees. Instead of shooting a rocket straight forward, your shots will only go up a small ways, and then come back toward the planet, taking gravity into account. It makes for a much different strategy than the traditional Asteroids arcade game. In addition, the asteroids will turn into diamonds upon destruction, giving you something to collect which spans games and can be spent on bonus weapons before play.
Even more unique to Crumble Zone is it’s emphasis on accuracy. An on-screen counter will help you keep track of consecutive hits, and reward you with a powerful weapon and extra diamonds. Keeping a perfect streak when you fire your cannon will also unlock more powerful bonus weapons, but the better reward is that it makes for a better game when you try to emphasize perfection with your shots. If you simply hammer down on the fire button, the game isn’t as interesting, even if it might be a bit easier as things get more hectic.
Your ship is controlled via virtual buttons. The left and right buttons are both located on the left side of the screen, and the fire and “special weapon” buttons are on the right side. It’s not too problematic, but a bit too often it required double checking which direction I wanted to move before pressing the button. If the game offered a variety of control types, such as moving the left and right buttons to different sides of the screen, things could potentially be improved. Also, this game seems to be begging for tilt control, and I’m not sure why it’s not an option. In fact, there aren’t much in the way of options at all in this game. There are no alternative modes, save a very basic multiplayer mode which puts both players together on one screen.
There also isn’t much in the way of explanation in the game, which is unfortunate as it’s not really obvious why things happen the way they do in this game. You will progress through stages, but it’s not really clear what triggers the next stage. Sometimes the background will shift from green to blue, but again, it’s not clear why. There are rewards for hitting a set number of consecutive shots in a row, but the game never tells you this. A quick tutorial mode would have been a nice addition, but it’s not so hard that you can’t figure out the gist in a few minutes.
The game is nice and colorful, and looks great. The background is a blue or green haze, and the diamonds you will collect are every color of the rainbow. A satisfying chain reaction will result in an effect that resembles a bowl of Fruity Pebbles being poured from the sky. There’s not a ton going on visually with the game, but what is there seems quite polished. The music, on the other hand is unremarkable electronic dance music, but can be easily turned off.
Crumble Zone doesn’t have aspirations to be anything more than a race to the top of the leaderboards, but at that it does pretty well. A few nagging control issues and a lack of variety don’t stop this game from being a good way to spend a few minutes between chores.
Crumble Zone is available as a Universal app for $0.99.