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IndieSpotlight: Superlumina: First Contact iOS

By Jon Ireson in Indie Spotlight

Superlumina iPhone Review - RealGamerNewz

Intro:

RealGamerNewz had the recent opportunity to speak with the developers behind Superlumina about what was going through their minds when they put together Superlumina: First Contact for the iOS platform. While visually the game may resemble something like chess in space, the concepts behind the title prove to be far more deep than that. Superlumina: First Contact’s subtitle also plays on the fact that mankind has for the first time stepped out of the confines of our own galactic neighborhood and found life on other planet mid-war. Now our species must strategically navigate through such a treacherous universe our own way. Perhaps surprisingly, First Contact also plays on the fact that Superlumina is a taste of things to come as the developers behind the title revealed to me that the game is a first initiation into an entirely new and vast universe years in the making. Read on to learn a deep understanding of how Superlumina: First Contact on iOS works and what kind of universe it takes place in.

Concept:

The vision behind Superlumina for the iOS platform is first and foremost about friends meeting friends in the mobile setting to play deeply strategic games that are rewarding and interesting. Development firm Straight to Video Games has launched the title successfully to a dedicated audience of strategy gamers who meet up together to outsmart each other on an average of 2 hours a day and for months on end. While the game’s learning curve may scare off some, the intentional decision to have less hand-holding and more emergent strategy that is learned as a player proceeds through the game is meant to add to the rewarding feeling one gets upon mastering tactics held within the game’s secrets. Superlumina: First Contact offers the ability to play against friends, artificial intelligence, and random players with the developers capitalizing on the fact that players already have a natural hierarchy of which one matters most (of course your ability to play against your friends). Superlumina players are able to put down 5 minutes of gameplay here or there in the asynchronous turn-based format of play whenever they can and instead of forfeiting an entire match will simply forfeit their turn if they don’t make a move within a 24 hour period. Due to the powerful strategic elements one can achieve, which will be discussed in painstaking detail throughout this article, there’s still a chance to make a comeback and this allows even the most busy of strat fans to engage in battle.

Straight to Video Games is a development firm that knows how deep gameplay is meant to be in a strategy game and with the mobile market starved for a hardcore title in the genre they’ve set out to deliver First Contact as a care package to those who are withering away without a strat title to turn to on the iOS that can really provide the depth they’re looking for. Speaking in basic terms, the game consists of a base turn of 3 moves per player which is extended to perhaps 4, 5, or 6 moves in a turn based on the chain reactions one makes with each move. This gets a lot more complex and exactly how the units are used in accomplishing this will also be covered in this article which serves as a complete explanation of the game’s main mechanics. However, before we get into all of that in detail let’s discuss the ambitious universe in which First Contact takes place as to allow our minds to wander to the faraway locations where the game takes place and begin to immerse ourselves in the title properly.

Ambitious as it may be, Straight to Video Games has been writing rich and engaging material pertaining to the universe Superlumina: First Contact resides in for many years with plans to eventually extend the games that take place in it across many genres. This title contains snippets of story to avoid cramming the entire universe down the throat of players, but the future could hold larger projects such as role playing games which will delve into much more about the many species involved over time. From different planets in the solar system, First Contact features a variety of species battling over outpost planets that are completely militarized (not home planets). Humans have stepped outside of their own comfort zone and landed in the midst of seemingly endless conflicts between these many newly discovered species. Large wars over resources coupled with old scores to settle surround them as the infant space travelers (Man) must now engage in war themselves simply to survive their voyage.

Superlumina Species IndieSpotlight RealGamerNewz

Species Descriptions:

Humans are represented more realistically in Superlumina than in other games. Rather than being completely noble they can get stressed out when they are rushed into making quick decisions, much like in real life. This is reflected in the artificial intelligence when facing a Human opponent for example.

Elders are blue humanoid beings who travel in flying pyramids. These beings are somehow related to Ancient Egypt in a way that is not yet known during the events of First Contact. A link exists between them and Earth which may be revealed in future games from STVG (the developer Straight to Video Games). What can be said for sure is that Elders pull the strings for a lot of species in a lot of planets and pit them up against each other in an effort to keep them divided and conquered. Other species have become sick of this manipulation and want to rise up against the Elders. Many secrets remain about this race but yet it seems as if we may be much more familiar with them than we realize.

Dracon Warriors are also known as Lizard people, or reptoids. They are slow but very aggressive. With a high attack power, high defense, and low speed the Dracons’ largest unit takes 6 turns before it is ready to attack but when it hits ? it hits hard.

The Greys are quick with low defense points and attack points but have the ability to flood many troops in a short amount of time (only costing 1 turn per infantry unit while the mothership can power up in just 3 turns).

Insectoids are semi-organic, semi-mechanical. There are a lot of them and they are very co-ordinated. Overall Insectoids are weak but they are not as weak as the Greys. The benefit of using the Insectoids lies in their combo bonus as building combos for their species can be a lot less structured. This is a perk that results from the hive mind they are host to, meaning they are able to work in a completely unique way and don’t need as much careful planning to act as one. The Insectoids were constructed by another species but who or what made them is completely unknown as well as their purpose. Perhaps in future titles STVG will reveal this through narrative or emergent gameplay, but for now it remains a secret of the stars.

When playing with friends they’ll develop different favorites depending on playstyle. Shifting and mixing up species has become a popular thing until a player finds themselves up against a tough opponent at which point they are a lot more likely to switch back to their favorite species again similar to players sticking to Ryu or Blanka in Street Fighter just to Haduken or Zap their opponent to death endlessly. But of course, this is no Street Fighter tournament and there are no wins easily gained here. Strategy and the exact details of the game’s mechanics must be respected and mastered for certain victory to be attainable.

Superlumina iPhone Review - RealGamerNewz 3

Strategy / Gameplay Mechanics Breakdown:

Earlier combos and chain reactions were mentioned as well as the cost of turns per unit and the fact that large units need to charge up. Now we will go into complete detail on how exactly that works. This section can serve as a guide on how to play for those who are considering purchasing the title as well as a way for potential players to properly visualize the depth and immense replay value they can expect out of the game.

If you have one unit attacking and then set another which attack on the same turn you create a combo. Each time you create a combo there is a 10% increase on top of the turn that is placed last. In order to fully understand how this works though, you must first examine how the game is played from a Defensive Formation and Attack Formation.

The board in Superlumina: First Contact looks something like a chess board but it does not function like one. In chess, the army on each side moves towards the middle. In Superlumina the units also move towards the middle but have level-ups, countdowns, combos, animations, and more. The game contains lots of stats and tweaking starting out easy and advancing into a more difficult practice in expert strategy honing. In order to take away health from an opponent the player must successfully attack all the way through one end of the board to the other. For example, if a player has 100 attack or defense points across their units on a given Row then the enemy player must do 110 attack points of damage in order to remove 10 points of health from their opponent (as well as send all of their units to be recycled, since they would be ?dead? from the 100 AP overpowering their 100 DP or defense points). When units die they are recycled until ready for more battle. Some play a defensive style while others are full-on attacking most of the time. The mechanics of Superlumina can be very flexible with species each containing different abilities and units, players attaining different levels, and different formations being assembled each turn. The 6 columns on each side of the board are used in this way throughout all matches. But it does get a little more complex than just lining up units any way you please.

Superlumina iOS Screenshot 2

In order to send an attack down a particular Row players must assemble an Attack Formation by placing 3 land-based units: Infantry (soldiers) and Armor (Tanks) are single tile units for attack or defense and only these two can be defensive. Armor are very strong at both but you must decide which to use them for. Infantry are quicker for obvious reasons. Artillery are double tile units that must be charged by having 2 infantry or 2 armor standing behind them and become integrated in a countdown. The Artillery units are weak until charged up but become the most powerful after. Single tile units are also idle until charged via lining up 3 of them in a row. Artillery can hit units all the way to the back versus single tile units like infantry by distributing the damage from the front to the back as DP (Defense Points) run out. Artillery distribute their AP (Attack Points) similar to an area damage attack and give every unit a piece of the attack.

In a Defensive Formation players can stack units and they can be upgraded. The more protected a player makes his/her formation however, the less attacks he/she will be sending out. Less units are available to attack since they will be spending their time defending.

Attack Formations are also formed with Motherships (double air tiles) which are charged by putting single tile air units (Planes) behind them. The Planes become integrated with the Mothership and begin the countdown for the Mothership which can attack anything but can only be hit by other air units.

Recycling Units, Formations, and Chain Reactions can also be explained like this. Imagine in a row exists a lineup of Infantry > Armor > Infantry > Infantry so there is almost a single tile charged attack from the 3 Infantry but the Armor is blocking this from happening. The player can recycle the Armor unit to get the single tiles to act on an Attack Formation. This causes a Chain Reaction because you used a turn’s move to do 1 thing (Recycle Armor Unit) and in the process have caused another thing to occur (the Infantry to Attack). As a reward for making this happen the player is granted an extra move within that turn. Chain Reactions now make things fall into place as you become increasingly skilled and aware of how these happen through your experience playing the game.

Combos are created when 2 or more offensive units have the same amount of turns left before attacking. This is because they are going to attack at the same time. Since they will have a synced attack, for every combo created the AP is +10% for that attack and they stack. So for example, 3 formations are formed then the last one you created will have a 10% bonus while the rest will have stacked bonuses. For each one you add, any existing get 10% on top and you can get up to 6 or 7 if you’re really good which can annihilate an enemy in many situations. And when you really have mastered the game you can get even more, perhaps even above 10 at once causing nearly double and easily destroying most if not all opponents you face.

Superlumina iPhone Review - RealGamerNewz 2

Game Modes:

Now that we’ve told you how the game works and given the readers a full tour of the characters involved, the units and their strategic value, and the main mechanics of high-level play, here’s what to expect in terms of various game modes that can be played in the game. Superlumina: First Contact features a campaign spanning 3 levels for each species (so 12 levels total) each with an increasing difficulty that prepares you for online play amongst friends and strangers. There’s also a Quick Battle mode which allows players to set parameters like different planets they prefer to play on, which species they want to use, which species they want to face as an opponent, and more. This allows players to hone their skills for each and play against artificial intelligence when they don’t have internet / service or just would like to train before facing off against real people again.

Superlumina: First Contact is Leaderboards enabled for all modes with Game Center support and Achievements as well. In Online Mode players play against friends or partake in random battles against strangers. There’s also a Tournament Mode recently released via a new update which will set a new challenge each month for a certain level and during that month players get to see who obtains the highest score in 1 match on that level. Try as many times as you want and compete with players around the world using the same parameters (to keep it fair) against artificial intelligence and only your best score will be used in the competition. If players win this new mode they will earn themselves a very valuable Achievement in Game Center.

We appreciate you strategy nuts taking the time to read about an incredibly vast and detailed title available now on the Apple iTunes Store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (for iOS Version 6.1 and above) at just $2.99 a pop. The game can be downloaded at the link below with more information found at the provided links to the developer. Another new feature in the recently released Version 1.2 is the ability to chat between iOS 7 devices mid-game.

Superlumina on the Apple App Store (Click Here)

Superlumina Official Website

Straight to Video Games Official Developer’s Website

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Your Comments

  • Thank you for a thorough and well explained walkthrough. I find the game absolutely brilliant, and look forward to play against you one day!

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