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Save the Planet

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Rating: 4.3/5 (67 votes)
Comments (50) | Views (6,604)
dancemonkeySave The PlanetSave The Planet by Rob Gray, an entry from our 4th game competition, is a simple shooter in which you aim with your mouse, and fire by holding the left mouse button and releasing after charging the shot with sufficient power. Use the gravity of the titular planet, as well as that of the attacking aliens and even your own prior shots, to defeat the endless waves of attackers. Keep in mind that you're more likely than not to cause your own destruction by shooting the planet you're trying to defend. Oops.

One of my favorite things about this entry, and I hope this doesn't sound like a backhanded compliment, is the title. Save The Planet is a loaded phrase that I think deserves to be a competition theme all its own. The most exciting games and movies pit one lone hero against ridiculous odds and then manage to convince you to suspend your disbelief just long enough to get you to the parking lot. Hopefully farther.

While this particular Save The Planet doesn't quite live up to that legacy, it does take an otherwise simple physics shooter and inject it with an implied story line that raises it slightly above the level that its gameplay alone could not have achieved. Maybe I'm reading too much into this title, maybe it's my childhood rescue fantasies focused too tightly onto this one game, but the thought that I was saving the planet kept me playing long after the gameplay itself might have deserved.

Although the gameplay itself may be mediocre, the experience it offers is beautiful and entrancing. If you've played Elektroplankton on the Nintendo DS and found yourself wishing there was an actual game tying it all together, then Save The Planet is the game for you. I don't feel the developer explored the idea to its fullest potential but the changing tones, colors, and music as you hit more and more enemies in a row are beautiful to watch and listen to. Going further along the Elektroplankton route, introducing different enemies at higher levels that have different tonal and visual properties would be the next step in this idea that I would love to see explored.

All in all Save The Planet is a fun, simple shooter that felt a bit unfinished to this reviewer. I feel somewhat the hypocrite though since I played it so much farther beyond what was necessary to write the review, so go decide for yourself.

Play Save The Planet


Wow. Fantastic entry. The only problem is the graphics. Other than that, great.

Sound is great. I would have liked more ambient music, but otherwise superb. Best sound effects thus far I feel.

Physics are good. I was really sold when one of my bullets looped in a gravitational pull around an enemy and hit my planet, nearly destroying me. It was less frustrating and more entertaining than I was prepared for.

It doesn't last forever, but it's a great entry nonetheless. Whoo hoo! Good job!


Allow me to clarify my rather crass comment about the "graphics."
What I meant was that the game seem so well-developed that the sort of flat, not-so-interesting looking aliens didn't seem to fit with the rest of this otherwise wonderful game. It's my only real criticism. I really liked it a whole lot!


Okay wow, this is my last comment on this game I promise, but I just realized it's more intricate than just a normal shooter game. Because of the stationary turret and the planet size, you really have to be careful when firing a little bullet, because it might just swing around and hit you. So you can't just rapid fire...you have to have some sort of rhythm worked out so that you don't destroy yourself in a matter of seconds. I love it. It becomes an elegant dance, carefully but rapidly firing shots at moving targets, making sure that with patience and a little luck, each shot either hits its mark or drifts off into space where it will not be affected by the gravity of your large sphere. Curving the shots around the gravitational pull of the planet to hit aliens on the other side is nervewracking but soo rewarding when a ball successfully collides with some alien face and you see the little fleeting spectral trail of your shot so dangerously close to your planet.

In less words, I freaking heart this elegantly simple game.


Very nice entry. I was hoping for more surprises or power-ups...other than just more spremy guys. I like the sounds, and I like that you can have multiple shots in the air. The bullets following (attracted by) the little guys is great.

I agree with the graphics comment above. It just calls for a slick...I don't know. It does seem to be too simple for the interest of the gameplay.

My interest dropped off after my planet was destroyed, so I'm not sure if the replayability is there.



kellyhalia October 4, 2007 1:07 AM

(Jay, the last few games have had bad display problems when I zoom the page to 200%. The first few were fine. I'm using XP and Opera 9.23.)


kellyhalia - Most older Flash games can, in general, be zoomed to 200% and still retain their appearance since older Flash games were composed mostly of vector graphics.

However, that's not the case anymore since Flash added much better support for bitmap handling.

What I'm saying is, if a game doesn't look good at 200%, then don't zoom in to 200%. :)

Kellyhalia October 4, 2007 2:00 AM

Oh no, what I mean is that when I zoom in, I get the JIG interface back - but the top half of it, down at the bottom, under the game.


Epic win. 49 on my first real try with understanding. I like the "Great" message for when you get double-shots (destroying two enemies within a certain length of time).

This game really is epic though. There is nothing like curving three shots around your planet to get multiple "great" messages... and while I don't think they add to your score at all (correct me if I'm wrong there) they are still satisfying to see.


76 this time.

Another comment: while it's epic to see a shot you fired into space curving back into the field a minute later to fry something just before it hits your planet... maybe they shouldn't come back from ANY distance? The ones that go into deep space and return are what give me problems...


92 this time... one last comment.

Since I tested it, and the greats do not affect your score, I was thinking... it could really be improved with a combo system for bonus points, or with a combo system that's separated, but also good for bragging (Highest number of shots / kills without damage, highest greating combo, etc.)



There was a minor weirdness in that the initial menu vanished before I had a chance to choose "Instructions"... but I turned out not to need instructions anyway. Very natural gameplay. :-)


This is a solid game mechanic. Now if only there was more game to go with it...


O I thought the aliens were shooting at me from outside the screen, but I was shooting myself :) That makes it a lot more interesting, I thought it was rather unfair that they could shoot at me before I could see them :P


kellyhalia - Down below the game is where the interface goes when the game plays. You're not supposed to see it because, technically, it's offscreen.

Whatever it is you're doing to view the game at 200% is causing the interface to be displayed in a way that wasn't intended.

A couple of the games in the competition support full screen, but not many.

kellyhalia October 4, 2007 3:02 AM

Ahhh. Thanks Jay :-)
I'm glad the interface is *supposed* to be down there. It looked pretty broken, LOL.


If you stretch your imagination only a little, this game isn't really safe for kids. Little biological metaphor going on there...

Aaaanyway... Giving enemy aliens their own gravity was a very cool idea. I find it difficult to make shots on purpose unless the enemies are right on top of me, but like some of the other players here, I did sometimes slip into a rhythm where I was making shot after shot.

The too-basic graphics are a turn-off for me, but I like the color changes and "GREAT!"s. Some sort of combo system would really pump up the gameplay. I see this as an intriguing core of a game that needs some more bells and whistles to be really great. The simplicity is good; don't get me wrong. But I feel like something is missing.


I am loving this. I agree with some of the graphics comments, but I just can't get enough of it anyway. When you think about it, by the way, if that is a planet, then that is one frickin' huuuuge cannon. And those aliens are like Mercury sized? and they just keep coming. This game shouldn't be thought of to any reasonable scale, but it's just so amusing to. For the look of it, it is surprisingly well polished. A commendable first entry!


Wow. Just... wow.

I don't agree with the commenters who said that the graphics are dull -- the simplicity of them makes it more appealing.

You know why I think this game is so appealing? Your shots come back to affect you. I've always caught myself thinking, "Don't worry about that bullet anymore, you've fired it, nothing you can do can change it now."

That is not true in this game, and your actions can influence your previous shots (namely, when you kill something, you lose a source of gravity that could be the difference between life and death).

I am going to post some possible improvements now. Do not take this as a suggestion that this game does not rock. It rocks. Hard.

To emphasize the "You can control your previous shots" angle, you could allow the shots themselves to cause gravitational attraction.

It would help if the game screen was made a bit bigger, to give us more time to respond to and thus strategically incorporate the previous shots.

It's annoying when the aliens crash into the planet. You are paying attention to each shot you've fired, letting that one curve *there* and collide with that one, and... huh? It didn't curve, because the alien crashed into my planet? Annoying...

To allow the aliens some way of fighting back if you remove this mechanic.. Maybe let them fire as well? But only in the direction they're facing.

Different types of balls? Nah. It'd make the simple too complex. Although, I wouldn't say no to a gravity repulsion wave that cost one point of damage..

Feel free to rip all of these apart -- these are just random suggestions of the top of my head ;)


This is my kind of game =). Simple, fun, easy to pick up but difficult to master. I'm also all for simple graphics although I do agree that the aliens could have been improved a little just to give them a slightly more polished look.

Loved the sound (very similar to what I've done in my game, but probably better here).

Overall a very good entry. Despite its simple appearance its up there with my top 3 so far.



Fun game! I got 30-ish on my first try, then 107 second time around when I was more careful not to hit my own planet. It was still my own shots that did me in; none of the space squid ever got close.

I'm thinking this could get a lot more replayability with some additions - different weapon types, powerups, new enemies, etc...

Jay : With the latest three entries I'm noticing the games aren't in chronological order anymore on the main menu interface - that could make it nearly impossible to find a game as the number of entries increases.

wonderwhy-er October 4, 2007 8:06 AM

Well i must say that this game is one of my favarites so far. Physics does not look as good as in "Roped!" or "Roll" but it has those felings i love about games. It gives me a feeling of excitement. Also style issimple in good meaning. I think that i liek this one more then other so far. Good luck to you with competition.

littlebum2002 October 4, 2007 8:15 AM

Fun game, but it could still use something MORE. Let us level up maybe.
I liked playing it, but I kept dying because I kept hitting my own planet.


Out of the games so far this is definitely in my top few and as much because it's so surprisingly simple and enjoyable. I especially love the first time you realise that the most dangerous thing on screen to harm you is yourself with the returning bullets.

As with the ilk of games such as Electroplankton the sensitivity of the sound design is as good and rewarding too.

I guess apart from the 'combo' comment I actually can't think of anything to improve this which wouldn't take away from its purity.

Well done Rob!


one problem i encountered...
if i rolled over the instructions button without clicking, the instructions came up and if i rolled over the start button without clicking the game started... made it hard to read the instructions without starting the game accidentally


um, yeah. The main menu/instructions were whipped away from me like a waiter clearing my table before I could take two bites of food. I was unceremoniously tossed into the game without a pause for breath. Panic ensued. I figured out how to play by randomly and frantically clicking. Which is always fun. Especially with a gun involved.

But that rude introduction was really a turn off for the first few awful minutes.

Physics are very good. I like that it's realistic in that you can destroy your own planet if you aim wrong. I think this game does a pretty creative and thoughtful job of implementing physics the way it really works, in so many ways... the aliens with their own gravity, the law of unintended consequences, all sorts of things. Well done :)


Jay - a couple of things aren't quite working properly. The music isn't coming on, which I think is down to me not putting a 'this' in the code. Also, the menu screen only appears for about 2 seconds and then the game autostarts. I've sent you an updated swf which should sort these problems out. Is that alright?

Thanks, Rob.


157 on my first try. This one turned out to be far, far more fun than it looked. (That's a comment on both its graphics and its gameplay.)

Personally, I don't care about power-ups, or different types of balls, or anything. The gameplay is simple yet satisfying just the way it is. In that way it reminds me of the 3-2-1 game (whose name I inconveniently forget) from CGDC3. [Edit: I believe you're thinking of Gimme Friction Baby. -Jay]

You can do quite well simply by firing shots straight up. If you miss, the bullet generally has enough power that it'll break orbit, so you won't have to worry about it coming back.


hey, nifty! Now that I can see the instruction screen, I notice that I can fire practice shots. Now that is a good idea.

I think the game is good just as it is. Adding powerups, modifying the game, stuff like that, would kind of ruin the elegance of it. It seems to me the game has been really well thought out, and that Rob is really familiar with certain newtonian physics concepts which form the underlying structure of the game. Or I just need more sleep. But, making changes to the game would have to be done very carefully in order to not turn it into an entirely different game.


Great game. The learning curve for the gameplay grows really fast and that's a basic need in a casual game that many people forget when designing games.

But even if I liked this game, I can not say that this game is the best, or close to the best, so far in the contest, as this game have the same problem as Moon Duster: it's not a "ball physics" game, it doesn't even have any ball-ball collision. It's much more a gravity based game.
Too bad, but this game is good, indeed.


Loved this game. I'm normally a puzzle person, but the simplicity of this game really caught my attention. I like the sounds, and I would suggest some kind of integration with the score. As your score goes up, more tracks get added to the music until the whole game is really pumping. I liked that the bullets can come back from way far away. I can see how it would be frustrating, but it adds a randomness that didn't bother me. Definitely one of the better entries in my opinion.


Wow, totally awesome. Some real zen moments when you nail 10 in a row or something (the game is cleverly designed to make you think that you're better than you are).


This is a really good game. Good physics, great music, simple design. In my opinion, it could win on the ball physics part alone. I especially liked everything having its own gravity and bullets chasing in orbits around my planet.


Stunning Game! This was the best game ive played so far that really felt linked to ball physics. It was fun, simple, and the music was jaw-dropping. Great replay value too. I'm sure this game will win in at least one area! Good Job!


My favorite so far! Ever since getting a bit hooked on "Gimme Friction Baby" I thought it would be cool to have a similar game but with gravity (bigger balls = more gravity) and with user-determined aiming and power. This game comes very close to that idea!

I, too, like the way balls come back from outer space. Also, I like that it's possible to get a feel for the shooting. After a while you start to learn where to aim and how hard to shoot to make cool, curved shots that hit them blasted aliens square in the forehead! (Or tentacles, depending.)

Like Sohum, I'll give a few suggestions -- not because the game isn't great already, mind you!

Combo scoring might be an idea, or if you don't want to mess with the "number of aliens shot" score, maybe just keep track of longest string of aliens shot without damaging the planet.

There's only one power-up I would like: A way to give the planet some more health. For example, it might appear for just a few seconds before it disappears again.

This is something I feel is a general problem with many entries to this competition: They're too unforgiving. This one isn't bad in that respect, but it would make me feel better if I were able to right some of my wrongs now and then, and give me a chance to extend the game. (Then again, the really good people would probably get way too high scores...)

(Also, hi to kellyhalia, who I believe I know!)


sorry for spamming this thread. I sense a lot of miscommunication in the force, so I'd like to clarify some things.

When I say "well thought out", I'm refering to the overall concept, not the game design or execution - those are a separate category for me. Also, I meant when I said "physics" actual physics, as in, the stuff that scientists study, not game mechanics or the feel of the game. Ball physics as a competition theme, to me, means anything the game designer wants it to mean, but elsewhere, strictly speaking, I take it to mean collision physics.

sorry to be boring. um, I guess I should comment on all the aspects I just mentioned which I didn't comment on before. ... It's all good. Aesthetics could use some spit and polish. That's about it.


Love the game. Odd feeling? Am I the only one who felt like this was a birt control game?


I discovered a bit of a quirk that seems like cheating.

Bullets can kill other bullets. This is great for defending yourself from stray shots and makes you feel spiffy, but it also counts in the score. So firing straight up rapid fire (no strength) gets you loads of points but doesn't hurt the planet. You have to stop when an alien comes near because they'll grab the bullets away, but then you go back to normal killing.

Wonderful game, though.


i love this. it's different to the other entires and has a simple concept yet seems to tick all of the boxes. the physics is there, the replay value is there and the audio visual is very good.

only criticism is that i'd like a high score table, which to be honest is easy enough to deal with in a minute or two and a level-up element. other than this, this game is really quite something with its simplicity yet addictive qualities.

definitely up there as a winner with angular momentum and jabo! 9/10! well done.


i love this. it's different to the other entires and has a simple concept yet seems to tick all of the boxes. the physics is there, the replay value is there and the audio visual is very good.

only criticism is that i'd like a high score table, which to be honest is easy enough to deal with in a minute or two and a level-up element. other than this, this game is really quite something with its simplicity yet addictive qualities.

definitely up there as a winner with angular momentum and jabo! 9/10! well done.


Brilliant gameplay, I think this is my favorite of the competition so far.


Wow, a great game. I too can see the similarities with Gimmee Friction Baby - simplistic graphics, easy to pick up but hard to master, and hugely addictive! Without having played all the other entries, I'd have to say that this could also follow GFB in one other area - winning a JIG competition! Well done


This is by far my favorite game to come out of this competition. It has incredible balance between game elements: the presentation (graphics, sfx, music) is minimalist in all respects, but nevertheless feels polished and complete; extremely simple and intuitive controls belie the depth of skill and strategy involved; the pace scales smoothly from the lull after one wave to the frenetic chaos at the height of the next; and though the defend-your-base concept is classic, the sublime gravitational effects make this implementation feel fresh. All in all I find Save The Planet maddeningly addictive.

Seems like there's been an update over the last day or so that made some cosmetic changes to the aliens and added a combo multiplier to the scoring (and maybe did other things I'm not noticing). The enemies' new tentacles wiggle around too much and don't seem to be attached to any fixed point on the aliens' bodies - the old ones were more static but gave a better impression of connecting to and trailing behind the aliens, in my opinion. I'm torn on the combo scoring - on the one hand it makes the "Great!" from successive kills feel even more rewarding, but I miss knowing exactly how many baddies I'd taken down. I think both a kill count and a score could be included without cluttering the screen too much (kills could be written with smaller numbers, eg). I also want to echo calls for a persistent record of high scores/kills.

A minor quibble regarding the competition theme: this game could definitely win a "Gravity" competition, but I don't know if it deserves to win for "Ball Physics." I'm of a mind that gravity alone - even in a game filled with circular objects - is only tangential to the concept of Ball Physics, which seems to demand that the circular objects interact with one another as balls. It seems to me that, with the exception of the planet itself, pretty much all the game elements could be shaped as squares and the physics simulation here would run basically the same with no affect on gameplay. But while other games might feel more ball-ish, none of them has captured my attention nearly so much as this one has.

My vote for the Audience Award will definitely be going to Save The Planet. Great work, Rob!


Very fun but too simple. I fee like its pointless just plugging away at the enemies. I love the concept but you this guy should make it into a defense game, complete with upgrades and different enemies. It'd be thte defense game EVAR.


I'm in complete agreement with the reviewer. When this was introduced in October, I spent WAY more time playing it than the graphics and simple gameplay would seemingly warrant. In my book, this qualifies as a bizarre little gem.


I personally feel that with only the tiniest bit more work on this game, it would (or perhaps I should say 'should') have won a prize.

I think that there is the danger in these competitions (and I'm not accusing the judges here) that the biggest most complete/polished games automatically win the prizes, or at least get an advantage.

While there is merit in producing a large polished game in the time frame, and certainly all the winners from the last competition were worthy of the prizes, I believe there is far more merit in producing a game that has feeling and atmosphere and perhaps does something a bit different to the average game.

Gimme friction baby is a good example of this, and I'm glad it won a previous competition. I think this is another good example. As the reviewer says, it's a game that keeps you playing despite being simple. To me that's what a game should be.

I would like to see more games along these lines in this competition, and it would be great to see one of them win.



the reason there is no scoreboard is if you get to 10,000 you save the planet.


151 so far and still playing, addictive and very well designed game. Cant see myself ever getting 10,000 though so maybe a scoreboard would have been a good idea.


Really great game. Easy to learn and not so hard to master, it really is good enough to shoot with no purpose and watch your bullets orbit around, hopefully hitting a baddie.

I just hope the 10,000 thing is not true!


The only thing this game is lacking is it does not keep your high score!

Please please please include it........ (got 526)


Very fun. I got about 110 first try, and understood the mechanics pretty well by that point. It kept bugging me that sometimes I would shoot at and alien, and the shot would orbit around once, then come back and hit me. Grr to them. It's pretty satisfying, though, when I fire a shot too hard, it goes off into the blue (or whatever color I'm on), then comes back a minute or two later to peg an alien in the face. I also randomly defended myself from one of my shots coming back, by trying to hit an alien, and my shot hitting the incoming one. Great game overall.


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