Every now and then a game comes out of nowhere with no hype or fanfare and perfectly rocks your video gaming world. Perfect Universe is just such a game – a superb blast of quality indie fun that has an incredibly cool, pretty unique monochrome "hand drawn" art style and a wonderful soundtrack.
The title comes packing a bunch of different single player and mini-multiplayer games – each of which provide fun challenges which will keep you coming back to try and beat your high scores and times, or just best your mates in a sofa co-op competition.
First up is Perfect Moon, a new kind of platforming fun which sees you collecting diamonds scattered around increasingly challenging stages. It's a nice simple premise bouncing and free falling at a pleasing rate, but the difficulty ramps up as you have to get to grips with gravity defying antics in order to complete levels in as fast a time as possible. The initial stages see you just running and leaping to grab diamonds, but before long there are multiple hazards introduced that include fiendish squashing devices, nasty cutter blades, and evil spikes. As you successfully beat levels, you unlock new challenges – it's very satisfying and there's plenty to keep you going.
Then there's Moon Life, which is a real space oddity. You control a frog like alien called Mr. Legs, and you have to move the little fella; it sounds easy, but the catch is that each DualShock thumb stick controls separate legs, so it's quite a struggle initially. The objective of the levels this time is to make Mr. Legs traverse the madcap courses and collect leaves, all while with the clock ticking. It isn't easy and will frustrate those with no hand/eye coordination, but there is joy to be found once you master the knack of making Mr. Legs do your bidding.
The third single player game is Starlight, which, despite the name, doesn't see you shooting stuff in a twin stick fashion, but rather flying a simple rocket with just a minimal control scheme: thrust and turn. This time its fireworks that need to be collected – be warned that holding down thrust is not the way forward, and some gentle technique is required. Starlight is a lovely addition and has the feel of PixelJunk games given a hand drawn makeover.
Then there's Sports Day, which is a brilliant investment for anyone who's a fan of the child tradition. Moon Golf does exactly what the title suggests – you'll be playing golf, on the moon. It's a total joy even if you're not into virtual golf. Simply pick your club – driver, iron, or putter – and adjust your aim to take into account the reduced gravity. Courses are presented in batches of three holes per course – and the dynamics include trying to sink your ball into a hole that is directly above you.
Also worth the price of admission is Rocket Ball – think Rocket League in 2D and played with rocket ships rather than cars. With rounds timed at just 99 seconds, it's a frantic battle to score and defend, which works especially well in two-vs-two mode. There is, however, a wicked three player alternative arena which has three goals, and when you're scored against both of your opponents get a point.
Ever wanted to play volleyball on the moon? Moon Volley is for you; standard Top Gun volleyball rules apply – serve and then your opponent has up to three hits to get the ball back over the net. It's a frantic and fun distraction – using the planetary gravitational pull adds to the dynamic and pulling off a 5-0 victory is grin inducing.
Also good is Space Race, a standard rocket-versus-rocket race around a track where one bad corner can wreck your chances. We'd have loved a weapon pod option for this as it would then be a 2D Mario Kart in space, but at least you can "nudge" each other to good effect.
Balloon Pop sees Mr. Legs in action again in a crazy contest to (as the name suggests) pop balloons by touching them. It would be simple, except controlling Mr. Legs is tricky, so when competing with mates it can lead to a huge free-for-all battle to try and be the first to 10 'pops'.
Finally is Gravity Dodge, where you play a version of dodgeball in space. The zero/low gravity adds a nice dimension to the game. As you can see, the variety of games on offer represent brilliant value for money, and while some are obviously stronger than others, this is a perfect wake up call for anyone who wants a different challenge or a fun local multiplayer session.
Perfect Universe is a good collection of games, and it packs so much fun that it's worth downloading – even if you only intend to boot it up when you have friends and family around. Congrats to creator Will Sykes on a really accomplished package.