PSM Quick Play: Meltdown Moon & Radiant Flux
$0.79 – Tested on PlayStation Vita (Game was purchased)
Meltdown Moon is a score based infinite moon puzzle game where you must select groups of like colored moons quickly for combos, collect stars and extra lives, and avoid asteroids. You control a moon man (Is that Obama?) with the left analog stick to move side to side and the X button to activate his jetpack. Releasing the X button allows the moon man to descend. The controls are tight and work really well in the higher levels. Scrambling around a screen full of asteroids while collecting stars and melting moons was definitely entertaining.
While playing Meltdown Moon, I really wanted to remap the controls to the shoulder buttons. The Android version used really tight tilt controls to move left and right which actually made the game more fun. Sadly, this is not in the Vita version. There are also no touch controls. I thought this would at least work in the menus and I was wrong. I’m told that this is not possible in a PSM game. The menus are a little confusing when cycling through the different modes. I think this could have been fixed if each menu item’s text was a different color.
Classic Mode and Moonfall Mode are considerably different. In Classic Mode, after you melt away a group of moons the hole refills from behind after a couple seconds. Also, you continue to play until your moon man gets hit. If you collect falling stars or extra lives then you get take a hit without ending the game. In Moonfall Mode, moons fall from the top of the screen similar to how the moon man descends downward. Also, you’re racing against the clock to get combos and refuel the clock.
High scores aren’t too difficult to achieve once you get the hovering mechanic and button layout down. I found the easiest way to score combos is just to spam the square button and focus primarily on moving around the screen to avoid asteroids while collecting the falling stars and extra lives. Doing this kind of took the thrill out of the game though. There are no online leaderboards or options of any kind, but this is a common theme among PSM games.
The music in Meltdown Moon sounds like a sound clip that just loops indefinitely. Every once in a while you can hear the sample fade out then come back in. There is no options so muting the bgm is not possible. I tried to play music using the system Music app in the background, but the Meltdown Moon audio doesn’t reduce and just played on top of the system music I selected. This also happened with other PSM games so it may be a limitation of PSM SDK.
For $0.79, this is one of the cheapest games in the PSM catalog. It offers a respectable amount of fun and has garnered high scores for its native Android version. I did experience one game freeze when hovering over View Moonfall Scores after playing a Classic Mode game, but this didn’t effect the Vita and I was able to just close the game. It hasn’t happened since and I’ve been playing for about an hour.
- Colorful graphics
- Exclusive PSM Moonfall Mode offers a challenging twist
- High score chasing is fun
- Only $0.79!
- Button input needed to bypass developer splash screen
- Confusing menu
- Questionable physical button layout; no shoulder button support
- No motion controls support like the Android version
- Extremely repetitive looping sound clip
- Would benefit from having online leaderboards
- Is that Obama?
$3.29 – Tested on PlayStation Vita (Game was purchased)
Radiant Flux is a retro 8-bit inspired side-scrolling shoot’em up. Everything about this game is old school. From the controls to the difficulty level. The art is reminiscent of classic 8-bit games but the brightness of the color palette used is super blown out. Bright blues in the background, light blues for the foreground obstacles and your ship, and contrastingly colored bright enemies.
The game has you controlling a ship in four directions: up, down, left, and right. You can only use the d-pad to control the ship, so if you’re anything like me you will be sorely disappointed when you discover the analog sticks have absolutely no functionality. You start off with three lives displayed in the top right corner of the HUD as ships. Below that are three squares representing the bombs mapped to the circle button. Below those are some multi-colored bombs (they look like everlasting gobstoppers) mapped to the square button.
Initially, If you’re ship takes a hit or you run into a wall, you lose a life. There is no health bar, its an instant death. But as you take out multiple enemies a combo meter fills up at the bottom of the screen acting as a shield. The screen shakes violently every time your ship is destroyed and it respawns in a random location. Fortunately, your ship is invulnerable for about 1-2 seconds after you respawn and at the start of each wave of enemies. This is important because enemies spawn all over the screen in the higher levels of which there are 70.
Radiant Flux is most enjoyable during those first few levels which act as a tutorial to show you how to move and introduce you to the different enemy types. Once you get into level 2-1 you start to feel the challenge of this old school shooter. One thing that really frustrated me about Radiant Flux is that the game has no pause function. I had to press the Vita’s PlayStation/Home button to suspend play.
Other than that, most of my personal complaints can easily be explained by the game’s retro nature. $3.29 is a questionable price to pay for a 9 MB game, but Radiant Flux is probably one of the more challenging games in the entire PSM library. I still have at least 50 more levels to play.
- Really sharp looking graphics that pop on the 5″ OLED
- Insane 3D effect just from contrasting colors
- Really challenging bullet hell moments when enemies are all over the place
- Interesting weapon upgrades and bomb deployment
- 70 stages, originally it was 60
- 4-way direction pad controls take some reacclimating, not 8-way
- No analog stick controls, truly retro
- Kind of pricey for only 9 MB
- TV mode was cut
- I wish the leaderboards showed the highest level reached