At a recent TIGA Discovery Day event, Tim got a chance to go hands-on with a number of new indie titles, including Switch Galaxy from Atomicom. Describing it as a “WipEout-styled track racing game”, I was immediately intrigued and decided to pick it up on the Vita. Does it offer the same adrenaline-pumping action as Psygnosis’ magnum opus?
• Developer: Atomicom
• Publisher: Atomicom
• Reviewed on: PlayStation Vita (PS Mobile)
• Also Available On: Android (via PS Mobile)
• Release Date: Available Now
As the score above indicates, it actually gets quite close.
A sequel to Switch (available free on iOS and Android); Galaxy makes its way to the PlayStation Vita, and other PlayStation-certified Android devices, having been developed for the PlayStation Mobile platform. The game looks vibrant and crisp on the Vita’s five inch, OLED screen, especially when you begin to go eye-meltingly quick.
In the game’s main campaign, your goal is to reach a research center at the other side of the galaxy. It is run by your employer, Dakur Technologies, and your mission is to collect a new piece of advanced equipment – and that is about the extent of the story. In order to achieve this, you must clear 25 tracks, spread across 5 regions.
Gameplay consists of manoeuvring your craft between parallel tracks by touching the sides of the screen or using the directional pad, in order to beat the track’s time limit. Avoiding barriers and enemy ships along the way, you can also cross over pads to get a speed boost or collect pick-ups, such as bombs which blow up any obstacles in your immediate vicinity and items that allow you to fly through specifically-coloured roadblocks. There is a shop available where you can buy upgrades for your ship, including increased shield, boost and dexterity. Credit for these enhancements is strewn across each track in the form of golden collectible orbs. They are often placed in precarious areas, giving you a real risk/reward dilemma – made more interesting by the high velocities involved.
As you progress through each area, challenges often appear over the tracks you have completed – the aim being to survive for a given number of parsecs (used here in their correct form as units of distance, not time – take note, Han Solo). Normally, you are rewarded with ship upgrades or credits for finishing them, but the main advantage to their inclusion is the added variety they grant to proceedings. There is also a survival mode in the game, which is entirely separate to the story. Aping the gameplay of its predecessor, this section of the game is a ‘infinite runner’ where score-chasing is the order of the day. The triangular ship you used in Switch also makes a return.
If there is one area this title fails in, it’s the soundtrack. Whereas WipEout gave us cracking music like Messij and Cold Confort, Switch Galaxy seems to use the most monotonous track (yes, singular) they could find. While this is disappointing, you can play your own music in the background on a Vita or Android phone meaning that it’s more of an annoyance than a deal-breaker.
For the price you are paying (currently £1.99 on the PS Store), this is well worth a look. The story levels are short, perfect for those spare few minutes you may have free, and the survival mode gives the game its replayability. Now I just need to put the WipEout soundtrack on my Vita and I’m sorted!