Format reviewed: PS3
Other formats available: PSP
Developer: Laughing Jackal
'Orbit' doesn't get off to a promising start. Not only is the story presented as crudely drawn talking heads of generic science types, there is absolutely reams of text. They talk, and talk, about absolute crap that is not important to the game. It's dull to look at, painful to read, and takes an age to even begin to play the game.
In the game you have to fire your man across planets - like a golf game you press X to stop a rising meter in the green and fling your man across the planet's surface; you then press X to keep your man flying until the meter runs out (tap x to flap when he has wings, or hold to ignite your boosters when you upgrade to jet power); that's as complicated as the game gets. Each level has 4 blueprints to collect and items to land on; each level also has a certain length for you to travel; and when everything has been achieved you move on to the next planet. Repeat to fade.
The game follows the same pattern as Laughing Jackal's (the developer) other Playstation mini 'OMG-Z' (in fact they share MANY things) - you play the game, get money, upgrade, play again and do better because of said upgrades. Skill doesn't help too much, the more you play the better you'll do, which provides a pretty unfulfilling gaming experience. The thing is though, it's addictive. Each go is so short, you upgrade so quickly, the collector in me wanted to get every last blueprint, get every machine and move on to the next planet - Laughing Jackal have a formula that pulls you in for one more go; it's perfect for handheld gaming. With this in mind I wouldn't recommend it for the PS3, but if you have a PSP then at £2.49 you'll certainly get your moneys worth.
In fact the game offers a few extras that I wish OMG-Z had. Orbit has achievements and a genuine highscore mode, while OMG-Z ends when you kill every zombie on the level, Orbit keeps track on how far you can travel on each level, it's not going to eat too much of your time once you complete the game, but it still offers an extra incentive to come back and improve your distance.
Ultimately, like OMG-Z, I just feel the game is on the wrong platform. Although Orbit wouldn't be enhanced by touch screen controls, it would be much more suited to smart phones. At 69p this game would be an essential purchase for your daily commute or 10 minute time killer; it's still a reasonable buy as it is, but it's limitations and simplicity are harder to ignore. And it's just not quite as fun, or addictive as OMG-Z.