Satellina – Review

Title   Satellina
Developer  Moon Kid
Publisher  Moon Kid
Platform  Android, iOS
Genre  Puzzle, action
Release Date  January 22nd, 2015

I’m something of a mobile gaming addict, which isn’t to say I love videogames and travel the country telling everyone about it. No, it’s more that I love playing games on my phone. If I can’t get an internet connection, there’s no-one I want to talk to and I’d likely raise just a little too much suspicion by talking to myself, I can rely on my trusty phone to provide me with some entertainment. I’m ashamed to say that a good part of that is spent playing Candy Crush Saga, because I refuse to pay outright for mobile games – when I can’t find the time to play full-priced releases on my PlayStation 4, the last thing I need is an addictive distraction to eat into more of my free time. At least Candy Crush Saga has a limited amount of goes you can have before you have to pay money or wait some arbitrary amount of time to continue to play. If that shit was free, I’d probably find myself in quite the conundrum. Satellina lands me in that exact conundrum and, like a drug addict getting another sweet, sweet hit, I find myself horrendously unable to stop playing it.

Satellina is an Andriod and ioS release from developers Moon Kid and, as with the best of puzzle games, hands players a simple goal and simple rules in order to achieve that goal. Of course, within twenty minutes, the difficulty curve has started to rise and you’re threatening to eject your phone from the room at a high velocity. The aim of the game is as simple as they come: there are three colours of orbs: red, yellow and green. The only one you’re initially interested in are the green ones; you’ll want to stay as far away from the other two colours as you can manage. You guide your little white dot around, hitting all the green orbs, and when that’s done, all the yellows turn green and red turns yellow and you can now see how this works. It’s super straight forward and doesn’t require a great deal of thinking.

What does require a great deal of thinking is when all the green dots are circling yellow ones, while a four squares of red orbs are moving in a counter clockwise direction and every second rotation, they split into a dozen lines and morph through the orbs you’re trying to hit. It’s hard as shit and tons of fun and the main draw of Satellina is the desire to beat this fucking thing by showing it you are not its bitch. Each stage is split into five zones and completing them will unlock the next section. Each stage is given a letter of the alphabet with the left hand column of letters (A,B,D,G) representing an easier path, while the right (C,F,J) representing levels that usually find themselves described with increasingly imaginative curses.

If all this is still sounding a little straightforward or easy, then here comes the sucker punch I’ve been holding back. It would be a boring lesson in repetition to constantly just try the same levels over and over until you unlocked them. Instead, Satellina made the smart choice to force time restrictions on every stage, so you basically need to complete all five zones within a pre-set limit to unlock the next stage. It doesn’t sound like it’s some great revelation of game design and yet, so many games just dumb these things down, opting to allow the player to unlock all the content with no real penalty, and just asking that they keep banging their head against a brick wall to finish the task at hand. There’s also no limit (at least in the version I played) to how many times you can attempt a level before being forced to stop – a massively refreshing change of pace.

The challenge is refreshing too. My beloved Candy Crush Saga wilts and dies by comparison because a large amount of its challenge is based on luck. That isn’t the case with Satellina. Sure, you may get lucky at times – I know I’ve dodged a few red orbs chasing a green as the clock counted down – but you never feel hard done by. That being said, I don’t feel this is a game for smaller touch screen phones. I was playing on my LG Nexus 4, and the screen was just a little too small for some of the moves I wanted to pull off. Whether it would be better on bigger handsets, I couldn’t say but my finger did run off the edge of the screen at times.

The game doesn’t loose any marks in terms of style and visuals either. Sure, it’s got three coloured orbs and a black background, it would be difficult for me to sit here and rip it to shreds for not trying to reinvent the wheel. Equally, one of the reasons I can recommend Satellina regarding its graphics is because it comes with an option to change the colour setup, making it easier for those who suffer with colour blindness to play. If I was wearing a cap, I’d take it off to Moon Kid, because this is something that is regularly overlooked despite the huge emphasis placed upon colour in our industry.

Moon Kid also haven’t let up in terms of audio, because they’ve provided plenty of electronic and techno tunes to bob your head along to while you trace your finger around the screen chasing and avoiding orbs. I very rarely have the sound on when playing mobile games and yet I found myself quite happily listening to the music as it was. It’s no symphony orchestra but it’s serving a purpose and it fits with what I’m looking at. If I could levy any criticism (and I’m really nit-picking here), then some more variety would have been good, but this is purely personal taste – there’s nothing wrong with the audio in the grand scheme of things.

The only minor problem with Satellina is having something to go back to once you’re done with it. I can’t confess to having finished it, because by Christ do some of those levels get tricky, but as it stands, my only option for replaying is to go back and try to improve my times. There are leaderboards and they are populated by a great many people much, much better than me, and if you’re the sort of individual who has to top all of the charts then you’ll be happy here. Just make sure you have an internet connection first – Satellina unfortunately doesn’t record your progress offline, and while this may seem like a minor quibble, it is something of a pain in my eyes and my only real criticism of what is a neat little game.

  • Simple approachable premise for anyone
  • Excellent challenge that's refreshing on the mobile market
  • Lovely audio and visuals
  • Might not be the best on smaller phone screens
  • No offline mode is a pain

I will be play Satellina long after I've finished writing this review because I want to prove that I can beat this fucker at its own game. Being the hyper-competitive idiot that I am, even if no-one ever finds out my scores or sees me complete the final level, I want to see what's at the end. My only hope is that it doesn't go on forever or I'll never get round to picking up the PlayStation 4 controller again. With Satellina, you've got a simple premise and an addictive challenge wrapped in a neat package. You'll pick it up at lunch while you're eating a sandwich and then you'll have to explain to your boss why your late back from your break, and for a puzzle game, that's exactly what a gamer is looking for.

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