Release: 2/15/14
Platform: OUYA
Developer: Distropolis Games 
Price: Free

I’ve got a confession to make that I usually don’t get to tell people: I LOVE PONG.  There.  I said it.

As a matter of fact, I love all Atari games.  Maybe that’s why I find myself constantly locked in OUYA’s free to play tractor beam.  There is never a shortage of games that remind you of “The Good ‘Ol Days” on this open-source, Android-based console that packs a punch despite its small physical stature.  I suppose that’s also why I’m so drawn to this 4-player grid-based brick-breaker, Gravity Gods, created by game developer Arman Bohn of Distropolis Games based out of Portland, Oregon.

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Gravity Gods is a classic couch RPG at its best. There is no backstory to speak of when you start the game, but you’ll find that the more time you log in-game, the more blanks are filled in.  Before you can play, there is a mini-tutorial that you must complete that allows you to get a feel for the controls before you get tossed into this Tron-like world.  Whatever you do, DO NOT DOWNPLAY THIS TUTORIAL.  It’s there for a reason: to help you not feel like a total doofus.  This is a game where hand-eye coordination is a priority and itchy trigger fingers are an epic no-no.

“Unfortunately, right off the bat, regardless of how proficient you are at other games, you will be terrible.”

This skill-based chaos-inducing game embodies the notion of “adapt or die.”  Once you realize that just because everything is coming from every which way at a million miles an hour does not mean that you need to wiggle the joysticks and tap every trigger and button at the same rate, you will improve.  Gravity Gods is a game in which you will destroy your friends; then beg for mercy as the cruel overlord changes the rules of the game.  This cruel overlord is a full screen 8-bit red-haired gap-toothed kid in a turtleneck who resembles the statue at the 9th hole at a midnight pitch and putt course in rural Iowa.  Pretty creepy, but then again when has a cruel overlord not been creepy?

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Gravity Gods currently has over 30 powerups and game changing “hand of fate” events which makes gameplay that much more exciting.  You can play as a number of different characters; most characters are symbols (which resemble star constellations), but in reality everybody just wants to play as the hot dog.  Once you select your character, make sure you remember which one it is for the entire duration of gameplay and not just the location of your character.  Randomized starting positions will keep your eyes shifting to all corners of the screen in search of your symbol.

“The game’s physics engine is top-rate and allows players to absolutely immerse themselves in the abstract experience that the game has to offer”

Once you start playing though, you better hold on to your coconuts because you’ll be thrown head first into a fast-paced random experience that will keep you guessing what the next powerup will be.   Whereas one powerup might repair your shield completely, the next might reverse your controls.  Everything from Blizzard powerups to powerups that cause ionic bonds to form between the hurling balls is thrown in your direction.  The game’s physics engine is top-rate and allows players to absolutely immerse themselves in the abstract experience that the game has to offer.

The rest of the time, you will be entranced by the fast-paced energy of the electronic background beats mixed by Arman Bohn himself.  It is an eclectic beat that is reminiscent of large room breakbeat house and borderline rave.  There is a bit of repetitiveness to the music and if you are going to play the game for hours on end (which is understandable given the amount of content available), you may be longing for more variety in the background beats.  If that’s the case, you’re in luck.  Cruise on over to Arman Bohn’s personal webpage or Distropolis’s official Soundcloud page and check out the rest of his music paraphernalia.

Wrap Up

All in all, Gravity Gods is a great little game that will keep you entertained for hours.  Smooth gameplay is a focal point due in part to the game running at HD 1080p and 60 frames/second.  Controls take time to get used to and may be a source of adamant frustration for some, but once you get the sequences down you end up feeling like a Jedi master.  In no time at all you’ll be controlling paddles better than Forrest Gump after being shot in the buttocks.  It’s a classic take on a number of great Intellivision and Atari games and deserves its own place on the top shelf of any nostalgia-seeking nerd looking to push the boundaries of what 8-bit is capable of on OUYA.

If you’re interested in learning more about Arman Bohn or his development studio, Distropolis, be sure to check out our exclusive interview with him.

Gravity Gods: OUYA Review
  • Homage to the classics
  • Powerups and "hand of fate" events make the game exciting
  • A little difficult to pick up
  • Repetitive music
8.7Overall Score

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