Atlantis Sky Patrol—doomsday devices, Match 3…all you could ask for

Posted: August 18, 2009 in Arcade, Puzzle

What do you get when you combine Flash Gordon with Zuma? You get a creatively designed game where the fate of the world is in your hands. That’s at the heart of Atlantis Sky Patrol where the task involves destroying doomsday devices. While similar to other marble-popping games such as Zuma and Stoneloops!, Atlantis Sky Patrol brings its own style and flair along with a unique twist to the category that should make it a standout in its right.

Atlantis Sky Patrol has 111 levels, a.k.a. doomsday devices, each represented on a world map. Presented in an art deco style, the game is an understated work of art, and easily one of the more polished games available. From the occasional newspaper front page headlines and menu designs to the sound effects and music track, the devs spent a fair amount of time beautifying this game. With brightly colored balls and elaborately designed tracks, your mission is to diffuse and prevent doomsday devices planted around the world from detonating. The core of that task involves maneuvering a ship to shoot and match 3 or more of the same color balls to neutralize chains of balls from reaching and powering these devices.

Now if it were only that simple, I wouldn’t be writing about this game. Atlantis Sky Patrol has an added twist: the doomsday device’s reactor engine. Each device has a reactor engine that continuously powers the release of balls, and until that reactor engine is destroyed, the wave of balls will continue. The reactor engine consists of stationary sets of colored balls strategically placed within the game field. Rather than match-3, these only require one-to-one matches of identical colored balls to take each out each. Keep in mind, that waves of balls are still in play which can interfere with your shooting abilities, and it will force you to make critical decisions between matching the waves of balls or taking out the engine which isn’t as obvious as it sounds.

The ship which appears at the bottom of the screen is controlled by touch and moved side to side with a visual of the next ball appearing on its hull. Shaking the device switches to the next ball, although I personally don’t like shaking my device for any reason. A workaround is to shoot the ball off into an empty space and move on.

Atlantis Sky Patrol also incorporates additional elements that complement the gameplay namely the ship upgrade system. As matching balls are cleared, random power ups and coins appear that can be collected by the ship. These temporary power ups include fireballs, slow speed, reversal, and wild card balls among others designed to help your ship along. More permanent power ups can be purchased with the coins collected during the game. The game has a straight forward system where you have the option to purchase four power ups, each upgradeable 5 times.

Speed—faster shooting
Bonus Magnet—attract bonuses
Rewinder—rewind ball direction
Disrupter—delays the release of new waves

The gameplay requires a certain amount of quick thinking since the objective is not only clear the tracks of balls, but also to destroy the engines from preventing additional waves. Fortunately, a laser beam guide is available to help with guiding shots, and while the first 20 levels are relatively at least for me, the tracks become ever more elaborate as do the reactor engine layouts. Obviously, the strategy is to take out the engines as soon as possible which in early stages can make for some quick games. Every few levels, a bonus round involves shooting balls without hitting mines to earn additional coins. It’s not the most difficult mini-game, but it does help to break up the monotony.

While I think the art deco style is done well, the font can be difficult to read, and I’m not too keen on shaking my device. Gauging the level of difficulty for any game is very subjective. So, advanced players may find the game relatively easy, although I think the different elements provide a nice twist to a game that has high production values.

All in all, Atlantis Sky Patrol is solid arcade game for those enjoying Match 3s that incorporates a good deal of twists and turns. It’s not everyday you get to dismantle doomsday devices by popping a few balls.

Albie Meter: 4.5 Stars (polished game that has enough differences to appeal to the Zuma crowd; one of the better bangs for your buck with a ton of levels and variety)

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