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Review: Switch Galaxy

Posted by on March 12th, 2013 | 18 Comments | Tags:

PlayStation Mobile has had a bit of a slow start, but thanks to some great games offered for free as part of a recent promotion and a fairly constant push of quality games, PSM is quickly turning into a platform every Vita owner should be noticing. Games like Atomicom’s Switch Galaxy are a perfect example of what PSM is currently capable of handling: full 3D designed levels with fast moving gameplay running at a smooth as butter framerate.

Switch Galaxy is an edge of your seat infinite racer that requires quick reflexes, perfect timing, and $2.49. It caters to gamers looking for a quick gameplay fix while also providing a fairly lengthy experience with a dollop of Survival mode for that endless replay value. This game could not have hit the PlayStation Store at a better time for me, because I was just telling another PSM developer how I myself wanted to make an infinite racer where the object was to get as far as you can without hitting an obstacle.

I dove right into “Start Game”, looking a lot like a story mode or campaign mode would. In the first area of the map all the levels play out like introductions to the many obstacles of the game, interlaced with a completely passable story. Gameplay is extremely simple: there is no “gas” button, the ship will just go as fast as it can. To increase speed you drive over boost pads. Hitting any obstacle will slow the ship down. The object is to reach each of the game’s 24 waypoints within a specified time limit.

Steadily as I progressed through the campaign, the difficulty increased while introducing me to new enemies, ramps, and color-coded barriers that can only be passed through when a matching pass is collected immediately beforehand. The difficulty spiked in the final three areas where levels had multiple paths to take and plenty of boost pads pushing the top speed of gameplay to somewhere around WTF! Finding that ideal line combining boost pads with other game-changing pickups was how I found myself really enjoying Switch Galaxy.

Whenever I got through a level really fast, hitting as few of the obstacles as possible, that mission would be awarded with a gold star and the path on the map would become gold. Going back and forth would be required to efficiently gold-star the entire map. Another pickup in the game looked like gold coins but were simply called credits. The in-game credits could be spent on ship upgrades such as shield, density, dexterity, acceleration, and boost. There are also ship skins available for purchase.

Survival mode is advertised as infinitely challenging and never ending. Simply avoid every disaster and every enemy in the game at a progressively challenging pace. Take damage just once and it’s Game Over. I challenge the notion that Survival mode was programmed to continue raising the difficulty into infinity given that the “campaign” mode does end eventually once you’ve reached the final destination. It’s more than likely that the higher levels in Survival mode are simply impassible by human hands. Leaderboards is all Survival mode really needs to be future proof on PSM.

The controls in Switch Galaxy are quite impressive, offering not just responsive front touch screen support, but also quick d-pad and shoulder button support. I discovered a way to use all three for quickly changing lanes to the right, and the dpad with L button to quickly move left. This trick seriously came in handy during one of the final levels. There is no motion controls or analog stick controls and I’m actually okay with that. The touch screen or physical buttons can also be used throughout the static menus.

Problems I had with Switch Galaxy are few and easily excusable. Though it would be nice to instantly replay missions I’ve successfully completed to try again for the illustrious gold star the first time through the campaign, a “Jump” option becomes available after completion. Otherwise, the game forces you to trace back your steps and to replay old levels, then come back again over all those levels to return to the furthest point you previously reached. And back tracking across levels does not mean the tracks are reversed unfortunately. Just beat the game first, then a “Jump” option will become available when selecting further waypoints.

Right now, Switch Galaxy is the most well rounded quality PlayStation Mobile game I’ve played and is primed for my 2013 PSM Game of the Year. It’s fast, frenetic, and nearly flawless in its delivery. The PSM bar has now officially been raised and I can’t wait to see what devs like Atomicom will come up with next.

A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.

General Info

  • Players:
  • No reverse tracks
  • A completely unremarkable story doesn't improve upon the game, nor does it need to

  • Freelance

    This game is too much like WipEout’s Zone mode. Is there any reason to get this when I have WipEout 2048 with the DLC?

    • KosmoCrisis

      You can argue that you don’t need any game if you have WipEout 2048. PSM is at a disadvantage in a fight with a native Vita game. Switch Galaxy is about reflexes, not racing against other competitors.

    • Freelance

      WipEout has Zone mode though which is basically you racing down the track by yourself, and see how fast you can go without crashing. There is also no ‘gas’ button either. You just went faster and faster until you eventually blew up. Switch Galaxy sounds a lot like that but with ‘obstacles.’ Zone mode had no obstacles under than the walls and pits.

      I think some people who worked on WipEout also made Switch Galaxy, hence all these similarities between the two games. It can’t be a coincidence that both studios are based in Liverpool.

      Anyway, it’s similar but not entirely the same so I may get this eventually. Even the graphical style is similar to WipEout, which is a plus.

    • KosmoCrisis

      Zone mode is different because it’s still WipEout and you have full control over your ship. Plus the insane load times difference. Chris says devs are from the WipEout team. The ship in Switch Galaxy is locked onto the lanes like a slot car. You can change lanes like Rock Band Blitz and this is why it’s fun. Zone mode is boring. I did overtime for WipEout HD back in 2007-08 and it was boring then; five years later it’s all the same. Switch Galaxy is different and it’s more light weight. There are also no trophies so you’ll never be “forced” to play it.

    • Freelance

      Zone mode is hard to me, but I wouldn’t call it boring. The colours make my eyes bleed in a good way. Oh, so you can’t actually control your racer in Switch Gallery? Interesting. Do you like WipEout when you’re not playing Zone mode though?

    • Chris

      It is random. The story missions are set tracks however

    • http://profiles.google.com/jcthomas00 Jacob Thomas

      As Kosmo said you just jump lanes and avoid stuff so comparing it to a pure racing game isn’t really fair. Obstacles seemed fixed in the story mode (which is all I’ve played so far in Switch).
      I wish it had trophies as I will be playing this a lot more than 2048.

    • Freelance

      Who said I was comparing this to a pure racing game??? I was comparing Switch Galaxy with Zone Mode in WipEout. Zone Mode is NOT a racing mode like the main game, so your comment doesn’t make any sense.

    • http://twitter.com/Elvick Elvick

      They aren’t the same either. One is about switching lanes, similar to games like Temple Run.

      The other is about going through a track over and over and over for as long as possible until you crash and it’s over.

    • http://profiles.google.com/jcthomas00 Jacob Thomas

      You mean besides the fact that you would have finished 10 levels of Switch Galaxy in the time it takes Wipeout to load one race(j/k…kinda)?
      It is a mobile game so it’s easier to pick up and play and the levels are much shorter than the ones for Wipeout. It sounds like I’m listing negatives of the game, but it’s actually quite fun because of those qualities.

    • Freelance

      Haha the load times are pretty crummy, but still an enjoyable game. Is Survival mode random or are the obstacles set?

  • KosmoCrisis

    It’s clear to me that I may have to do a WipEout HD/Switch Galaxy side-by-side comparison video or something. Would anyone be interested in seeing these two games compared to one another? If Switch Galaxy was a mode added to WipEout 2048, I would play the living dead out of it.

    • xxAcesHighxx

      I would..!!!

  • http://twitter.com/Elvick Elvick

    Glad I picked this game up on a whim a few days ago. It’s super fun. I just wish Sony would drop the Vita’s memory card prices so I could keep it on my lame 4GB.

    I’ll have to try it on my tablet and see what it’s like on there. Otherwise, I’ll have to switch stuff around to play it again. ):

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremy-Zharkov/100000590970112 Jeremy Zharkov

      Isn’t it only 29 megabytes? (At least that’s what it says it is in the store)

  • KosmoCrisis

    “favorite”

  • stalepie

    why can’t you play this on ps3 or vita? like PS Minis

    • stalepie

      never mind i see it’s a vita game! :I