Game Reviews

Space Hedgehogs vs. Space Cacti

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Space Hedgehogs vs. Space Cacti

The world of nature is packed with classic confrontations. The grizzly bear is forever attempting to scoop fish out of the water, while the spider and fly share a similarly tense relationship.

We’ve yet to encounter any evidence of animosity between the humble hedgehog and the prickly cactus, but if you’re to believe the zany storyline of this latest space strategy title from developer Sad Cat Software, such a rivalry is on the cards in the distant future.

Hogs in space

In this oddly named strategy game, both species have evolved to the point of achieving interstellar travel and are embroiled in a heated battle to dominate the universe.

Organised neatly into star systems, you're able to fuel your war machine by plundering planets. By flying your armada of ships from one world to the next you can conquer them, gaining more cash for development and potentially more ships to command.

Initiating an attack involves tapping one of your planets and then selecting another world as the target destination. You can choose to send a portion of your ships or the entire fleet based on that particular planet – a useful tactic when you’re looking to subjugate your enemy’s bases quickly, but one that leaves the host planet dangerously short on defences.

Speak softly and carry a big stick

Your opponent plays to the same strategy, so you have to plan your moves carefully. There’s little point in throwing all of your ships into an all-out offensive on a single stubborn planet when your enemy’s attention is focused on mopping up the smaller worlds - you're sure to find yourself outnumbered and outgunned if you follow such a process.

Acquiring upgrades through the expansive tech tree is another avenue by which you can get the upper hand. It’s possible to use funds to research faster, more robust ships. You can also improve the cannons and missiles equipped by your fighters.

In addition to these upgrades – which, once unlocked, remain with you for the duration of your campaign – you can purchase single-use items, such as defensive asteroid belts or deadly nuclear bombs, the latter of which can be used to decimate your enemy’s fleet before you swoop in and conquer a planet.

Pointed criticism

Space Hedgehogs vs. Space Cacti is one of those strategy games that’s instantly gripping and carries the right amount of depth, but there are a few problems which mar the experience.

First, the playing area is cramped. Although it’s possible to zoom out using multi-touch, doing so makes it hard to read the various craft numbers displayed next to each planet and consequently it becomes more difficult to plan your actions.

Furthermore, the icons at the top of the screen – which relate to the research menu and your stock of items, among other things – take up too much room and overhang onto the viewing area, making planet selection regularly awkward.

The other issue with Space Hedgehogs vs. Space Cacti is the way in which combat is handled. You can choose to let the computer decide the outcome of each battle or take manual control of your armada and blast away the enemy yourself.

While the latter option sounds exciting, it quickly becomes a chore. Turning off the manual battle option solves this problem, but it does feel as if you’re missing out on an integral part of the game.

Solo strategy

It’s also a crying shame that multiplayer isn’t included; although you battle two computer-controlled foes in Single Map mode, the ability to face off against human opponents – either locally or online – would have made this even more enticing. Game Center is supported for leaderboards and achievements, so online battles wouldn't be a stretch

Despite these issues – and the entirely nonsensical nature of both the game’s title and deranged storyline - Space Hedgehogs vs. Space Cacti remains a worthy download. Its fast-paced strategy taxes both your reactions and your brainpower, making for thrilling, if limited, space conquest.

Space Hedgehogs vs. Space Cacti

Space Hedgehogs vs. Space Cacti offers solid space strategy gameplay – it’s just a shame that interface issues and the absence of multiplayer detract from the experience