A Real Rip-off
It’s generally a bad sign when reviewers feel the need to wax philosophical about the ethics of creators in their given field. But playing Solar Smash 2 really makes me want to. I can’t prove that BER Games, the developers of Solar Smash 2, illegally ripped off Solar Smash from Paradyme Games. I’m only just convinced that’s the case.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. More of a simulation toy than a game, Solar Smash is a scaled-down, budget version of Universe Sandbox. Solar Smash 2, meanwhile, is the scaled-down budget version of Solar Smash. The game presents you with a 3D model of a planet and invites you to destroy it through various means. There are no levels, points, winning or losing. It’s more of a digital toy than a game in the strictest sense. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a digital toy, although one would hope it was at least well made.
Players have thirteen planets to choose from. The list includes the eight planets of the Solar System and four dwarf planets. There’s also what the game calls a “Mystery” planet. However, it is just an odd striped collage of the other options. Solar Smash 2 also makes you think you have to unlock most of them, but that’s not the case. The padlock icons disappear after you click on them, allowing you to play as usual. Solar Smash 2 also weirdly abbreviated the names of two worlds. The game lists Uranus as Uran while the dwarf planet Makemake is shortened to Make. If any of that makes you think Solar Smash 2 is a bit slapdash, it gets worse.
Smash and Grab
Solar Smash 2 offers player’s eight ways to damage the game’s simulated planets. The first four are laser, ice, water, and land. Notably, the land ray is more of a repair button than anything else. You can’t build a new landmass in the Indian Ocean, for example. There’s also a missile, spaceship and giant metal skull. While the missile just punches holes, the other two are kind of interesting. The ship uses a laser to cut a circle around the planet latitudinally. The skull, meanwhile, melts the planet and molds it into a giant molten space skull. The final option is a “comparison” mode that puts the planet next to Jupiter. However, the two planets are always the same relative size. Saturn, Earth and Pluto are all equally large in the universe of Solar Smash 2.
The game only gets less impressive when you start using its weapons. I’ve already mentioned that the land ray is just an undo button. The skull, meanwhile, is interesting exactly once. Lasers and missiles leave very ugly and fake-looking scorch marks. The game also treats gas giants like solid objects and gives them a nonexistent molten core. None of the weapons can cut all the way through either. Neither can you smash any planets in Solar Smash 2. And that’s not even getting into how easy it is to glitch the game out. The game doesn’t know what to do if you click too quickly or target somewhere close to the poles.
The Guanine Article
Out of curiosity, I decided to download and play the original Solar Smash by Paradyme Games. The difference is night and day. Not only is the presentation better, but the first game has more variety in pretty much every way. Instead of 5 weapons, Solar Smash has 22 ranging from asteroids to black holes and more. Do you want to throw Earth’s moon at Venus or see a planet-sized energy being punch Jupiter? If so, Paradyme’s Solar Smash has you covered. Its gas giants even act like gas giants, twisting and warping as they lose matter. Players can also create custom worlds and play with the whole solar system in System Smash mode.
Both games still fall into the category of toy, but there’s an astronomical difference in quality. Solar Smash is like a Mr. Potato Head doll. It’s more of a loosely structured creativity toy than what you’d call a real game. Solar Smash 2 is like if someone made a knockoff called Potato Guy. It’s exactly the same except for having a fraction of the pieces and plastic that cracks like an egg. Consider this an endorsement of Solar Smash and a warning not to waste any time on Solar Smash 2.
Is It Hardcore?
BER Games’ Solar Smash 2 is a cheap and embarrassingly lazy knockoff of the reasonably entertaining Solar Smash from Paradyme Games.