Zbam Games, based in Istanbul, Turkey, have released their debut title, Cosmoplan: A Space Puzzle. Given that we haven't seen many developers originate from the region of Anatolia, we're very excited to try out Cosmoplan and see how Zbam compares to the rest of the development companies throughout the world. Having to explore new planets and avoid asteroids with perfect timing, does Cosmoplan: A Space Puzzle boldly go where no iOS game has gone before? Or should we activate reverse-impulse speed and seek out new life and new civilizations?
Zbam utilizes dozens of short-span puzzles (each taking mere seconds to finish if done properly), to promote a pick-up-and-go approach to puzzle gameplay. I have encountered this quite a few times throughout the iOS puzzle genre (e.g. Block Block Block and the Angry Bird series), but I believe that for Cosmoplan, this works very efficiently. And in all actuality, I could not imagine these short levels being consolidated into much larger ones (the end-game levels are already wider than the screen and require frequent panning back and forth in order to adequately plot your flight path). Regardless of the length of these space missions, the most question is, how well does Cosmoplan play?
The truth is Cosmoplan plays extremely well. Its premise is simple -- you must launch your ship from a known planet (your starting point in the bottom left corner), to an unknown planet (your destination). This may sound simple enough, but there are moons, barren planets, moving asteroids, electric discharges and gravity fields all hindering you from fully reaching your destination. To make your travels even more difficult, you must collect as many stars as you can on each level so you can advance to the next set of stages. Until you procure enough stars, you must keep replaying and perfecting your stages until most of the stars on each stage have been accounted for.
The controls of Cosmoplan: A Space Puzzle are relatively easy, but the timing, accuracy and planning required is what makes it difficult. Your ship starts off on the bottom left planet. You aim your ship along the perimeter of the planet (from 0 to 90 degrees). You then tap the lift-off button and your station will move in a straight align in accordance to where it was aiming. The problem is that the stars and unknown/destination planet cannot all be reached when going in a straight line from your point of origin. So Zbam implemented Cosmoplan's puzzle mechanic in the form of having additional ships attached to your original one.
The additional ships are attached directly to your original ship. Just as you were able to place your ship on the origin planet's surface and aim it however you may please, your additional ship can be rotated around your original ship and may be aimed in whatever direction you like. You hit the launch button, the original ship flies off in the direction you aimed it at with the additional ship in tow.Tapping the screen while the original ship is flying causes the original ship to detach and continue in its trajectory, with your secondary ship blasting off from the main one. The additional ship then propels forward in whatever direction it was facing while the original ship launched. In other words, you launch the original ship in a certain direction, and then the additional ship can launch off of it in mid-flight. This mechanic gets more and more intricate as Cosmoplan starts introducing a variety of obstacles and you get multiple ships that you keep launching in sequence in order get all the stars and reach the unknown planet.
Cosmoplan: A Space Puzzle encourages thought, geometrical planning and expert timing. By the time I reached the immensely-wide levels with a full array of obstacles, I had to sit and plan for minutes on end before even trying my first launch. The introduction of the gravity fields seen in Angry Birds Star Wars threw off my usual, calculated planning and hit me sideways. Also, the introduction of wormholes forced me to break off my ships into them just to see their effects. Ultimately, Cosmoplan: A Space Puzzle is an excellent iOS puzzler. The only thing that held it back from perfection is the fact that it costs two dollars and its graphics and sound departments were a little shallow (most of the graphical variety comes in the different color/lighting effects on the stage and obstacles). Compared to the other puzzlers on the market, Cosmoplan is one of the best ones. But Cosmoplan obviously isn't free, so it's up to you to decide if you would want to drop two dollars on a great, puzzling experience. We think you should.