Katastrogon3D (K3D) Review
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Katastrogon3D (referred to as K3D from here on out) is a mobile game which just launched and you can download using the links above if you’re so inclined (Disclaimer: SPEntertainment reached out to your Bro to request this review) . If you’re a longtime follower of this site, you’ll recall I first previewed the title at RTX 2016 and I was immediately enamored with it. I’m a big fan of indie and/or retro titles and K3D takes the classic formula popularized by Breakout (and Javanoid-I’m totally never going to stop with that reference. IT WAS A BIG PART OF MY CHILDHOOD!) and infuses it with a distinct aesthetic and unique power ups.
The core mechanic of the title is easy to grasp: a ball bounces between a player-controlled paddle and a grouping of blocks which must be destroyed. Additionally, elemental power ups can be gathered by the player which can be used to break different colored block which manifest in later levels. The game is paused whenever activating power ups (which is a godsend) and the in game user guide is incredibly helpful and succinct in explaining the more complex features of the title. Also, the bright, neon-infused blocks and paddle add an injection of color to the UI, and I for one cannot wait to see if additional boards/blocks/paddles are added later in the game’s life cycle.
One aspect of mobile games I feel gets overlooked regularly is audio. I believe this to be a fundamental platform limitation, as I’d surmise most people play mobile titles at work or school, on the bus, etc. Because of this, I would hazard a guess most people play with the volume on low or with their game completely muted. Although this is incredibly efficient and logical, when it comes to K3D playing in this “traditional” manner does the title a disservice. The sound effects are retro-inspired and incredibly fitting for the game. The soundtrack is distinct and blends perfectly with the aesthetic of the title, providing the game with a grandiose feel. Do yourself a favor and the first time you fire up K3D, be sure to do so with a pair of headphones on. The music is tranquil, layered and does not deserve be to ignored.
The biggest problems I encountered related the to gameplay is the same gripe which inevitably pops up when spending time in a title leveraging this core gameplay mechanic: it can take an inordinate amount of time to destroy the last few blocks when you can’t launch the ball at the correct angle. Additionally, sometimes the ball just does not bounce at an angle, even when it lands on the side of your paddle. This led to multiple frustrating deaths as after a few seconds I’d make a last ditch effort and attempt to swipe the paddle to come into contact with the ball just before it went out of bounds to try and introduce some new angle of trajectory. Also, some levels can be difficult to clear quickly-although I’m sure this is entirely by design, I am a fan of being able to quickly plow through levels in mobile games, and I do not see a way around this given the core gameplay mechanic.
Finally-and this may just be a personal predilection due to my playing K3D on my unnecessarily large iPhone Plus-from a control standpoint, I would’ve loved the ability to turn off one specific feature. In the control scheme, tapping on the screen teleports the paddle to wherever your finger just touched. So if you tap on the bottom right of the screen, the paddle will immediately teleport to this location (although the paddle is restricted to horizontal movement only) . Given the fact my iPhone is rocking a rather robust case, I’m not a fan of needing to be next to the edge of my phone when playing a game. I would’ve appreciated the ability to turn off the “tap to teleport” feature and be able to simply drag the paddle from it’s current position regardless of my finger placement on the screen. This is merely a request of my personal play style, and does not detract from the ability to complete levels or use powers at all.
Overall, K3D exemplifies everything I enjoy about a quality mobile game: easy-to-understand yet hard-to-master mechanics, a unique and appealing aesthetic, a quality soundtrack and audio effects and the ability to clear levels within a couple minutes. The title is retro-inspired yet distinctly modern and I see countless opportunities for additional content (color palette swaps, etc). I initially described K3D as “a game someone can always go back to, whether it be for a quick round or a marathon session” and I stand behind those words after getting more time with the title on my personal phone. If you’re a fan of old-school mobile games (or just dynamite soundtracks) I recommend checking out K3D. Until next time, Bros!