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Sinister Planet by Neolithic Software Review


Let’s be honest here: most games nowadays are clones or stick to a proven formula with – at best, a new gimmick or a novel option to distinguish them from the competition. Occasionally, however, a developer will stray far enough from the crowd to really put a fresh spin on a genre; Neolithic Software has done that with Sinister Planet, a retro space shooter now available on the Android Market.


Gameplay: Sinister Planet has clearly taken hints from a few classic arcade shooters, namely Asteroids and Galaga, but it still manages to come across as unique and original. You control a spaceship centered on the screen that spins 360-degrees and shoot at large asteroids around you, which are the basic tenet of Asteroids.

However, in SP, your job is to mine the asteroids for gems and additional weapons, and you’re not alone. Hidden throughout the levels are multiple types of hostile aliens with unique behaviors; the most common are Roamers, who fly around aimlessly until you uncover a gem, at which point they all swoop in and try to steal it from you. In addition to gems and weapons, you can also collect gold rocks, which give you extra money to spend between levels on upgrades and health. Challenge Levels are mixed in with the normal levels, and offer a break from the sometimes intense gameplay by offering a risk-free bonus level.


  • Beautiful retro 2D graphics
  • Well-made 80s style environment
  • Challenging and engrossing gameplay
  • Online high scores leaderboard
  • Adjustable difficulty level
  • Challenge levels


Graphics: Sometimes games are called retro for no reason other than that they look too crappy to have been made within this century, but Neolithic really raised the bar on this one. The environment is beautifully detailed, and your ship looks as though it was pulled straight from a high-budget 80’s arcade game, as do the aliens. Animations are smooth, and nothing looks forced or glitchy. There’s now two ways about it: Sinister Planet is a genuinely well-designed game.

Sound: The game does not feature background music, but the rapid-fire pew-pew of your lasers, the explosions of the asteroids, and the unique sounds of the aliens more than make up for it. The sound effects are all high-quality, and the lack of BGM actually prevents overkill.

Controls: If this game has a weakness in my eyes, it’s the controls. You control your ship with an onscreen analog stick, and the acceleration/deceleration is almost identical to Asteroids. (For the record, I sucked at Asteroids, and apparently, I still do.) The lack of any tactile feedback from the onscreen controls whatsoever makes maneuvering the ship very difficult for me, but apparently not everyone: my highest scores are around 20,000 (a testament to my lack of skill), but the #1 gamer is at about 500,000. Over time, you do grow accustomed to the controls, so if you’re having trouble like me, just drop the difficulty and keep trying.


Overall: This is a brilliant game with plenty of replay value that has a bit of a learning curve with the controls. It’s hard to deduct points for controls when they’re done by design, but also hard to give a pefect score when they can be so frustrating at times. Sinister Planet is Apps2SD compatible, and is available for $2.05 on the Market. A free demo is also available for you to try, but if you like it, I highly recommend buying the full app.


Gameplay: 5/5

Graphics: 5/5

Sounds: 5/5

Controls: 3/5

Overall: 4.5/5


Developer Website: Neolithic Software


Direct Market Link: Sinister Planet


Click QR Code to enlarge for easy scanning: {rokbox}images/stories/QRCodeLibrary/QRSinisterP.png{/rokbox}

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