Isn’t the unrelenting march of technology a wonderful thing?
Just a few years ago it would have been absurd to suggest that computer manufacturer Apple would be at the frontier of gaming with its range of telephones and multimedia players.
9 Colonies is the sort of game that shows how far we've come, with tech-trees that rival the classic PC turn-based strategy games like Master of Orion or Ascendancy.
Unfortunately, it blows the rest of the game out the airlock.
9th Rock from the sun
As one of the nine planets of the solar system (Pluto is considered a planet here, picky astronomy fans), your task is to conquer everyone else’s planets through good old-fashioned inter-planetary invasions.
This is achieved through balancing your colonies’ focus on research, fleet construction, and building improvements - all of which is handled by tapping once on an area to prioritise it over others.
As the turns tick by, new advancements are automatically fitted to your fleets and bonuses are applied to all your planets, while new blueprints let you construct better buildings.
It all sounds great on paper, but while there’s a framework here for a fun space strategy title the execution is sadly lacking.
Combat, for instance, is merely a screen flooded with numbers and a brief, basic animation of two ships crawling towards each other.
It may provide everything you need to work out what happened to your fleet, but it’s not exactly easy to decode.
Likewise, the act of creating said fleets is surprisingly basic for a game that puts so much emphasis on detailed tech flowcharts.
Any item your lab boys come up with is automatically fitted to every ship, which may remove a lot of micro-management, but also takes away all control over ship design and tactical considerations.
This means that 9 Colonies quickly becomes a dull process of hitting the 'next turn' button again and again, with gameplay ultimately boiling down to who has the most ships - like a slower and less visually interesting version of Galcon.
Because there’s no risk-reward in the management side, anyone who takes a few planets early always wins due to the increased research and build speeds - and that’s likely to be you thanks to the less-than-stellar AI.
Despite all the effort that’s gone into creating a solid framework in terms of tech trees and backstory, 9 Colonies doesn’t possess an engine that can break orbit.