My first round of Planet Plop from PiVi lasted all of three seconds. Appearances, I quickly learned, can be deceiving: despite the lighthearted and cartoonish visuals, the upbeat music, and a potentially juvenile name like Planet Plop, I found myself playing a game that was startlingly difficult — demanding precise control and quick reflexes, and built around an extremely unforgiving one-miss-and-you’re-out design. My next several games lasted anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute, but though the attempts were short, the game itself is going to last me a long time… I’m still playing it. I will defeat you, Planet Plop; you’ve thrown down a gauntlet I can’t ignore as one of this week’s App Store featured titles.
The premise and gameplay of Planet Plop are both fantastically simple: the planets have gone mysteriously barren, but life-giving drops are raining down from the heavens to restore them to their lush glory. Unfortunately, the planets are divided into distinctly colored biomes, and you need to match the colored drops to their appropriate landing sections. One mismatched drop and the entire planet is irrevocably poisoned, and your game is over. I found this out the hard way on my first match, while getting a feel for how much thumb-movement will rotate the planet (it’s not much, requiring careful control). The uplifting music began, the planet was turning, and the first drop plopped down — into the wrong region. End music. Planet blackens. GAME OVER. This game will not tolerate your idle musings; there are worlds at stake.
Planet Plop is cut from the same cloth as Super Hexagon, presenting a reasonably simple idea that requires pitch-perfect execution from the player, and then ups the ante by making things incrementally harder as time goes on. You may start with an evenly-divided tricolor planet, but once you’ve plopped that to completion, it’s time to work with more regions, more colors, regions with different sizes, and so on. All the while, Mister Onion — a being who is exactly what you think he is — is dropping potential bonuses or hazards on the surface of your planet. Not to mention the poisonous drops that will instantly end your game no matter where they land, unless you catch them on the planet’s pointy mountains.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I downloaded Planet Plop, but what I got was a perfect arcade experience: skill-based, fast-paced, play-til-you-lose tension — simple and free. Sometimes, picking a featured game for a platform is a no-brainer.