Despite its simplistic and relatively easy model of gameplay, the arcade game for download through Xbox Live, Space Ark, is surprisingly addictive. Strawdog Studios have created a title that, although obviously aimed for an audience of children, is ideally suited to an older generation that are interested in relaxing for a few minutes with a light-hearted and, quite frankly, adorable title. You may find the overwhelming cuteness to be discovered within Space Ark somewhat sickening after a while, but if you can learn to ignore it the addictive nature of the game itself may keep you coming back for more.
It seems that a wandering black hole has found its way into the galaxy of the Arkonauts and is causing havoc as it destroys entire worlds, and leaves others in desolation. The Arkonauts, a group of animal astronauts, must attempt to save their galaxy by making planets safe again for their furry friends to live on. Don’t worry; you don’t need experience in terraforming a planet as the process simply involves ‘hatching’ animals from their stasis capsules and bouncing them around the world to collect the DNA that is left in orbit. Your goal is to create combinations of this floating DNA according to its colour. Collect the right combinations and you will be transported to the next level, and the next world. Hit the surface of the planet though, and you will lose one of your lives and be forced to start your current combo again from scratch.
The process is repeated ad nauseam for a massive 168 different levels, and you can enjoy the challenge either alone or with a friend on your own console. Despite Space Ark being a game for download via Xbox Live there is not any functionality for playing through it with friends in a different location online.
Before long you will discover that the levels don’t take many minutes to complete once you get the hang of things, but for the price it’s still a lot of content. Other modes could also extend the life of the title, as you battle for survival or against the clock, but don’t expect to spend too many hours of your life playing Space Ark. For one thing none of the levels offer much of a challenge, even as you progress through the game into a higher difficulty. Anyone experienced in this traditional form of arcade play will soon become bored therefore, though the skill level is ideally suited to children or casual players.
The lack of variety, lack of difficulty and the ridiculous quantity of cuteness in every action and sound that the Arkonauts make could end up frustrating you. As a fan of retro gaming you would certainly enjoy Space Ark at the outset, but may find that the shallow and repetitive content will soon have you reaching for another game. Although the gameplay is often likeable and is certainly addictive for the affordable price that you will pay, there won’t be much to keep you returning after an initial hour of play.