iPhone Game of the Day: Planet Work makes vacuuming a fun chore

On iPhone
Planet Work
Price: Free ($0.99 in-app purchase)
Size:11.9 MB
Get it now on iTunes:US (opens in new tab)/UK (opens in new tab)

Most people cringe at the word “work”, as in the dreaded phrase “work on Monday morning”, but take that same word and put in the context of a game, and somehow work becomes fun. Or at least it can, in the right hands. Planet Work has a very simple premise: your universe is full of junk, and it’s your job to clean it. You get to play the role of a very cute green haired boy with a vacuum in hand, and you’ll have a total of five worlds to clean up with four stages each. At the end of each world, you’ll go up against a boss too. This despite the fact that you’re armed with only a vacuum cleaner. We promise, that’s not as bad of a predicament as it sounds like.

Your controls are all touch, and beyond the button you push to start each level, there are no visible buttons. To move and vacuum, you merely touch the screen with a single finger. There will be times when you need to stand still too, such as when you encounter an extraordinarily large pile of garbage to siphon up, and a double tap will enable you to do that.

As you make your way around on this cleaning spree, you’ll also fill a bar at the top of your screen called the pow meter. Once its full, you’ll have a super powerful vacuum charge that you can use by touching the screen with two fingers at a time. These are handy to save for when boss time rolls around and you really mean business.

Planet Work starts things off simply in world one so you can get the hang of things. Each level is comprised of a series of cluttered platforms, and when you vacuum them, they’ll turn a different color and make a musical sound. You’ll also run into enemies, whom you can also suck up with your Dirt Devil, and there will be some very small puzzles too (such as sucking small bridges down so you can cross to new platforms). Each level is also timed, so you’ll be rated one, two or three stars depending on how quickly you can get things looking spic and span.

Later levels will introduce environmental challenges such as icy surfaces, so you’ll have to cope with slip and slide in addition to your usual cleaning duties. The boss fights in the game are also clever and cute, and you’ll notice that the baddies are made up of stuff like trash and leaves so your vacuum is actually a viable weapon. They’re often armored from the front end, so you’ll need to run around a lot of make sure you can aim right to suck up their messy innards.

Planet Work is also compatible with GameCenter, so your scores will be posted there for your friends to ogle over. In addition, there is a gallery in the options menu that unlocks cool concept art as you play and complete levels. The controls can be a tiny bit awkward at first, but once you get the hang of them, it was a lot of fun to play. Add in a sweet soundtrack and the replay value with the timed levels and stars, and you’ve got a cheap but pretty little title that ought to appeal to both kids and adults.

Apr 12, 2011

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