A long, long time ago (maybe)…in a galaxy far, far away (possibly)…comes the latest and greatest way to waste time without breaking the bank…
COSMIC LEAP *cue Star Wars theme* *pew pew noises* *do it with the finger movements* *it’ll be great* *trust me*
Cosmic Leap is an adorably stylized action/puzzle game that does not fail to satisfy. With 100 short, psychedelically-colored levels and 49 unlockable characters & items, this title is easy to beat but hard to master. The quick bursts of gameplay each level provides is enough to make even the most hardened of PC gamers giggle with glee. For just $2.00, Cosmic Leap is definitely worth the price tag and a solid way to procrastinate even the most important of tasks.
There’s not much of a storyline, but what storyline is there does actually progress. In this Hunger-Games-esque world, you play as a challenger from “the newly liberated Sector 22” in a sort of game show. As you run, jump, and collect coins in a mad dash to your rocket ship, trillions of life forms across the universe watch you from the comforts of their homes (or caves…or caverns…or whatever the other sectors live in). Get a good enough grade and you might unlock cosmic mode and even catch the eye of the esteemed emperor - not bad for a cluster of pixels that just had their “life-giving sun obliterated” (but enough about politics).
The goal is pretty straightforward – you, a lowly citizen of Sector 22, are at one end of a series of planets and are trying to get to the other end where your rocket ship is waiting for you. Either you’re doing your best Forrest Gump impression or you’re literally running like your life depends on it, because you don’t actually stop running at any point (unless forced to). If left alone, you will literally circumnavigate the planet repeatedly – provided there aren’t any obstacles, enemies, or ships trying to destroy you. Coins and speed are also important; collecting all the coins within a certain time limit will result in a good grade and possibly unlock the Cosmic Mode, which is a more challenging (and more frustrating) version of the level.
Controls vary – there is a controller option, but since I prefer to make my life more difficult, I used my mouse. Click the left mouse button once for a small jump. Double-clicking the left mouse button twice will result in a higher jump that is potentially powerful enough to leave the gravitational pull of the planet you’re on; this will only work if another planet’s gravity can suck you in, so you have to be close enough to another planet to utilize this. A right click will make your character stop, and right-clicking again will make him/her run in the opposite direction. Playing with the mouse makes this title waaaaaaay more challenging than possibly intended, so if you have a controller I’d say use that.
Cosmic Leap boasts 40 unlockable characters and 9 different rocket ships.
These items are collected in specific levels; when a level begins, text pops up on the screen notifying you that a rocket ship is approaching. If you’re able to get to the rocket ship quickly enough, you’ll unlock the exciting new item. Typically, these items are easy enough to unlock, but much to my frustration, I have a few too many that I’ve unintentionally skipped over. Characters are usually a single pixel for the body and four pixels for limbs with different identifying features such as sunglasses, hair, or clothing. With comical names like “Action Bunny”, “Hella Handsome Man”, and “80386.5”, they are all uniquely styled to match their chortle-inducing names. Rocket ships, while they vary wildly in design, are often not legitimate rocket ships – my personal favorite is the “Deep Space Whale”.
After playing a few levels, I realized I was moving at a faster pace and was a lot farther than I would have been if I had invested the same amount of time on another title. This is largely due to the design – the levels are so short that I didn’t realize how fast I was breezing through them. This really played into my need for instant gratification since it was easy to beat a level every 30 – 45 seconds. The grading scale at the end of every level is like school, so it hit a “nerd nerve” as well – trying to get an “A” was just so much more satisfying than trying to get 3 stars or some other ambiguously tiered score. Getting an “A” also meant that I had unlocked the Cosmic Mode, which provided an extended challenge of an already stimulating level.
Even though I actually really enjoyed Cosmic Leap, there were a few minor grievances I had with it. The music, although really well-composed, became monotonous and even grating after the first hour – a little more variety would have been warmly welcomed. I also found the mouse sensitivity to be a bit laggy, but that’s probably a problem on my end rather than Cosmic Leap’s (and the controller is strongly recommended, so no fault to the developer, honestly). Even with background changes, progressive complexity, and different planet skins, I found most of the levels to be the same…I mean, yes, each level provided a new and unique challenge, but it became pretty tedious after a while to, again, go from one end of the planetary system to the other. I am not sure how it could be tweaked to make it a bit more interesting, but I really longed for something different after a few hours.
If Cosmic Leap could be somehow modified for the iPad and other touchscreen devices, I could easily see this title becoming the next Angry Birds. It’s a title that is well-suited for both casual gamers and the high-score-obsessed. For less than a cup of coffee, I was able to squeeze hours of amusement out of a simple game with a simple concept. The added bonus of a charmingly dorky storyline polishes off Cosmic Leap with a finesse not often seen in titles at this pricepoint. For $2.00, there’s really no reason not to add this title to your Steam library – by doing so, you may please the esteemed emperor, bring glory to Sector 22, and kill time in an adorable 8-Bit fashion.