Comets and Craters in Review – The first step away from classic TD

Back in September a company, previously known only for a simple arcade-type game, released a new Tower Defense game that went relatively unnoticed – Comets and Craters. Little did they know that this was actually the first step to spawning a new subgenre that finally brought to us the excellent Space Station: Frontier. Now, about half-a-year later, how does it match up to the other contenders to the TD throne?

Comets and Craters seems to be a classic open-field TD title at first glance. There is no backstory as such, only a mention that your mission is “to defend the Orion Space Station against Dracone attacks”. So, defend we shall!

Comets and Craters takes the classic mechanic of open-field Tower Defense games – there is a number of enemy entry points on the left side of the screen and you have to stop them from reaching your base on the right. One of such entry points is reserved for both ground and aerial troops, while two more spit out aerial units. The map itself is the common square grid with a several points where comets explode. And it’s actually the leftovers from these explosions that you have to harvest to get the resources to build up your base. The resources themselves come in two varieties – green or blue crystals, with one variety used to build and upgrade towers and the base and the green to repair them.

The towers offer a decent assortment with mines warranting a separate mention. The towers come in either ground and air or anti-air only varieties. The mines are ground only (which is a no-brainer) and come in either freeze or damage varieties. You can even upgrade the damage mine for a one-off super strike that obliterates both the mine and the unlucky enemy unit. Speaking of obliterating – you’re not the only one with weapons out there – some enemy units have weapons of their own and if you don’t keep watch on the health bars of your towers they will quickly fall to bits.

The harvesting process is automatically tended by invincible mining bots. But don’t put your guard down – airborn units may easily slip past your guard and try to destroy the mining facilities themselves cutting you off from the cash flow. You, on the other hand, can upgrade the space station to gain access to new towers and dock upgrades, which considerably increase processing capability.

The graphics in Comets and Craters are very colourful, though the unit and tower detail is far below par. The enemy units look blocky and almost identical minus the two aircraft, which makes it very hard to plan out the defence strategy for a wave. Performance, on the other hand is flawless on the 3G iPhone.

As an added bonus, Comets and Craters offers Scoreloop integration to post the scores you earned on any of the three difficulty modes. This serves to augment the gameplay, since there is only a single map in Comets and Craters plus a half-baked map editor, that unfortunately doesn’t allow user-created map sharing, making it rather useless.

I have to give kudos to Comets and Craters for opening a new door for the TD genre by implementing a full-blown resource system. Unfortunately the limited variety of gameplay is made worse by the single available map and the sub-par graphics. As it is, Comets and Craters is interesting to historians, but gives way to more compelling titles such as Space Station: Frontier.

With this I declare Comets and Craters officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Comets and CratersDeveloper: Living Artz Pty Ltd
Reviewed Ver:1.2Min OS Req:2.2.1
Price:$2.99App Size:16.3 MB
  • Pioneering resource gathering in TD
  • Colourful graphics
  • Mine defenses
  • Limited gameplay variety
  • Only one map
  • Confusing enemy unit graphics

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