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Smashing Dolphins: Planet Punch Redefines Self-Loathing

They make this adorably feeble little sound, too :(

Yes, that is a picture of a maniacal star with planets for hands socking a majestic flock of space dolphins. To be fair, they started it. That image pretty much sums up Planet Punch in a nutshell, though: you go through the universe systematically wiping out all life with nothing but a vast cosmic array of apocalyptically powerful planet hands. At heart, it’s a relatively simple premise (PUNCH EVERYTHING YEAH), but different enemy types and planet combos keep things compulsively fresh. Also, each hit prompts a rainbow volcano of satisfying sights and sounds, even as tiny combo multipliers ask you “Why?” and bellow “Unnecessary!”

If you hadn’t guessed, Planet Punch is a very silly game, belching derisive laughter at you, itself, and pretty much all life – both real and fictional – in existence. Each area sees you exterminating a different sort of life (humanity, space fish, evil sentient math, etc) via levels that slowly but surely add new powers and enemy types. It’s not the most original formula, but it’s goofy, dumb fun with a hilariously unhinged plot.

That said, the action does get bogged down in places. Humanity’s sector is essentially the tutorial, but it feels like it could’ve conveyed all the same information in half the time. As is, it takes a little too long to get to the real meat of the experience, which in this particular example may or may not involve dolphin punching.

Planet Punch’s other niggling issue lies in its difficulty curve, which stays too even throughout levels – causing them to run together in a nearly seamless slurry of sparkling starblood – and then spikes during boss fights. Granted, my playthrough never got too hard (I was playing on the game’s default difficulty), but I’d have appreciated some better pacing.

Still though, as a stress reliever whose only price is a few neatly bundled scraps of your self-respect, Planet Punch excels. It’s silly, satisfying fun, and I’m only kind of writing this post so I won’t feel like the worst person in the world for spending so much time playing it.

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Nathan Grayson

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