Review: Peak Gold S^3
Today's game review is something of a 2D take on the real-world robotic grabber game. The story is that you're part of a mining operation for Gold ore, and you have to fulfil your quota before the lights go out. It's a test of reactions and timing. If you have what it takes then you'll be sent to mine deeper and deeper until you find the ever more massive diamonds.
Version Reviewed: 1.0
I'd have to classify Peak Gold as an arcade action game. There's just one challenge - grab as many gold nuggets and gems as you can as they rush by on the production line. While doing this, you have an energy meter that is constantly ticking down. If you don't get your ore quota before the lights go out, you're in trouble.
Each level takes you deeper into the mine, but frustratingly, if you fail a level you have to go right back to the beginning. This is an old-school way of playing games; I remember hours spent in front of my ZX Spectrum replaying the same parts of a game over and over again because there was a part where I was always killed. Since those days, games have become more forgiving, and infinite lives no longer require a cheat code. So, I do rather feel that Peak Gold is being a bit harsh on players by sending them back to the start, rather than just making them repeat the level they're currently on.
As you can see from the screenshots, you're operating a robotic grabber from the control box at the top. To launch your cable you just have to swipe in the direction you want to aim. If you hold your finger on the screen, an arrow will appear that shows the direction you're aiming in. The longer you hold, the more energy is stored in the launching mechanism. This extends the range and power of the grabber – to the point where it can smash through unwanted rock until it hits something valuable.
Since the flow of material on the conveyer belt is continuous, there is a trade-off to be had from biding your time. While it might be worthwhile to wait for the 'perfect shot' you are losing time during which there's other usable material that you're not collecting.
Talking of material, your bread and butter are the nuggets of Gold, large and small. However, they don't add a great deal to your ore meter on their own. There are tiny gems (which are harder to pick up) which add much more to your ore meter. There is a lot of trash as well, grey rocks which give you nothing. If you accidently grab one, they are very slow to winch back to your control box – losing you valuable time.
One each level, the energy meter goes down quite quickly. However, if you collect enough valuable material in an uninterrupted series, you'll eventually build up combination bonuses that culminate in the 'fever mode'. Fever mode gives you two claws that you can launch at once, and at first all rocks turn to gold. The latter aspect soon finishes, so even though you'll have dual claws for a while longer, you'll have to aim carefully. To take best advantage of these double claws, you need to find a good rhythm in which to keep launching them.
The graphics and animation in Peak Gold are great and perfectly fit the subject matter. Even though the game plays in landscape, it was - curiously - upside down! Plus, even though sound and music were turned on, there was no sound. Still though, I usually turn game sounds off, and turning the phone over is no hardship.
While Peak Gold is good quick fun, I did find it a tad stressful to play too. Also, I wonder whether the difficulty curve is set a little high as I was stuck on the third level in my testing for this review, but no doubt you could get further if you spent longer and have better reactions than I do.
David Gilson, 15th April 2012
Reviewed by David Gilson at