OMGPOP Launches a Social, Virtual Goods Version of Missile Command

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By Christopher Mack Comment

Missile CommandThe folks over at the quasi-social gaming portal, OMGPOP are looking to tap into 80’s nostalgia with a remake of an old Atari title, Missile Command — but with a few social additions.

Perhaps the premise of Missile Command should be dubbed “remake,” with an emphasis on the quotations, because the core of the game is no different from the 1980 original. As a matter of fact, neither or the visuals, really. Okay, yeah, they have better color. But otherwise the game essentially has flat, simplistic missiles falling from the sky, on a single-gradient background, striking a flat gray ground. As for the game play, the object is to shoot down these falling enemy missiles with your own missiles, launched from a static, but rotating, turret.

Pew PewAs players proceed through a level, the missiles gradually fall faster and more frequently, until it becomes a frantic shoot out of nuclear proportions (yes, there is a nuke). Upon destroying each missile, the occasional energy boost, a triangle-shaped thing, drops, and a simple mouse-over will pick it up. This energy is then used to upgrade various elements such as reload rate, missile speed, blast radius, etc.

Now this is where the game starts to get interesting. As the player reaches new levels, more than just missiles attack you (odd looking spaceships, for example). Obviously, if the missiles hit you, you lose health, and in higher difficulties this can happen extremely fast. To mitigate this, players can use the OMGPOP Coins to instantly reload all of their missiles (otherwise, the game gradually reloads one missile every second or two), nuke everything on screen, or heal yourself to full. These each cost 20, 500, and 1000 coins respectively.

OMGPOP CoinsFrankly, this is a brilliant idea. While coins can be earned through playing games or answering questions on the site, they are also the primary monetization method for OMGPOP — purchasable via PayPal, offers, and so on. Yes, they are used to buy virtual goods for users’ profiles and whatnot, but in the middle of a frantic game, users don’t have time to think about spending these coins. The average train of thought is going to be along the lines of “I’m about to die!” and they will simply react. Furthermore, the “reload” for missiles is the spacebar, so it’s even more reactionary, as with most games on the computer, the two most commonly used buttons for non-movement are left-click and spacebar. Hitting it is reflexive, so spending those Coins is, too.

What also makes the game more interesting, and further plays into this reactionary spending, is that games can have up to seven individuals playing together. Obviously, this adds to the chaos, but it is a lot more fun to play with friends and defend your base together. Furthermore, more chaos means less thought, and more reaction, thus leading to more spending. The only problem is, that with more people, and higher levels, there are so many things happening on screen that some people’s computers might lock up and not allow anything.

Unfortunately, the game itself, while amusing, gets old pretty fast. Missile Command was made during the 1980s, and frankly, this version still feels about the same. The use of the OMGPOP currency in this game is smart, but it’s not clear what will keep players coming back time and time again.