Planet Crashers is a quirky little title on the 3DS eShop. Despite what the title implies, however, it has nothing to do with planets - or crashing into them. It's a quirky dungeon crawling role-playing game (RPG) which places an emphasis on its multiplayer aspect. Unfortunately, multiplayer is something which relies on a strong following to be successful; as this was released with no hype at all, very few people are actually playing it online...
The push on the multiplayer side of the game comes at the expense of its solo experience, which is ironically vital to success in the multiplayer mode (oh dear). To start with, you create, customize, and name your avatar. The name is also restricted to seven letters, so naming it Rainbow Dash - or something equally as rad - is out of the question. It's disappointing as there are plenty of NPCs with more than seven characters.
You take on quests from a bulletin board, or NPC, and head to the appropriate dungeon. To its credit, the game does attempt to inject some humour into the quests. Some characters will request you find hot cocoa, or ice cream, in a dungeon. Unfortunately, the humour falls a little flat and isn't helped by the poor presentation.
Between quests, and overnight, your characters rests. This is the only time the game is saved and it's a little annoying as you can't keep multiple saves. Moreover, if you fall in battle, you will be transported back to your house and rest up for the night, saving the game - minus whatever you lost in defeat.
After taking a look online I found one game with a level 15 player, so I thought to myself "it can't be that hard to grind up to level 15!" Unfortunately, although easy, it is very time consuming and repetitive - largely due to the game's dungeon design which follows a "room, corridor, room" pattern.
Once you check out a new planet, quests for that planet can be taken from any planet's quest board. However, if you're on Planet A and complete a Planet B quest, you'll be transported to Planet B on the completion of the quest, for no apparent reason. The dungeon design, in case you're wondering, doesn't improve as you unlock additional planets.
The battle system is active-time - you have a minute to pick and perform your attack. Although the game makes a big deal out of picking moves strategically, you can just as easily go with your strongest move, using health packs as needed to get the win, unless you go up against a character ten levels above yours.
There are various opponents waiting for you throughout each dungeon, each one a variation on the character parts you can pick for your own character. They get tougher as you progress, however it's easy to gauge their strength by how many hit points they have. In addition, they aren't very smart, and only approach when you move.
It doesn't take long to build up your attack stats to match the tougher opponents. Not long into the game I received a banana, which apparently inflicts more damage than unarmed strikes - go figure. Weapon upgrades are gained solely through finishing quests. There are also numerous health packs, stat boosters, etc, and it's easy to build a huge collection, as each battle earns you far more in gold than it does in experience.
Visually, it's pretty obvious why this title doesn't even bother including '3D', this could be a PSP or Vita title for what little use it makes of the core 3DS feature. On the positive side, each world looks distinctly different. Unfortunately, the worlds can be annoying to navigate without a map showing you where the dungeon entrances are, so you are left to run around like a headless chicken until you find everything.
For all of its flaws, Planet Crashers' gameplay is pretty addictive. It really shows what offering rewards for every quest can add, no matter how short or seemingly pointless some are. Even trivial things like finding someone's comb - in the first room of a dungeon - can earn a pile of gold.
Overall Planet Crashers was a daring gamble; a title which needs a big online following to be worth buying with a weak singleplayer that will likely put many potential customers off. Unfortunately it's unlikely to garner much of a following, both because the singleplayer experience is so bland and the level designs are repetitive - in fact, almost every element is lackluster. A shame, and a game that's hard to recommend.