Missile Cards | Principal Platforms: PC (Version Tested), iOS, Android | Developer: Nathan Meunier | Publisher: Nathan Meunier | Genre: Card Game | Year: 2017
A sure test of one’s “gaming age” is to answer the question: “does a cross between a turn-based card game and Missile Command appeal to you?” And thus Missile Cards entered my collection because, yes, that does appeal to me and yes, apparently still knowing that Missile Command is a game is all part of accepting your advancement in years. Oh, well.
It will be tricky to find another digital card game on the market today that gets its point across faster than Missile Cards does. Decked out in the sort of 8-bit retro aesthetic that we’ve come to love and loathe in equal measure, this wonderfully simple game tasks players with fending off the many nukes, comets, and other hazards that threaten to destroy their planet-side base of operations.
A set deck of player cards is assigned for your chosen level with each one featuring the planetary missiles and laser beams that you’ll need to fend off threats of differing intensity. The gameplay is as simple as loading your chosen card into your console and waiting for it to charge before deploying it in a satisfying explosion of pixelated debris.
If you’ve got a tractor beam handy then you’ll also be able to hoover up that valuable detritus whereupon it will be converted into space cash that can be used to purchase a small suite of brand new cards for your preset decks. Aside from the escalating threats, base upgrades, and the odd new tools that appear as the game progresses, that’s pretty much all you need to know going in.
The best moments in Missile Cards are surely during those early stages where a slight feeling of trepidation is outweighed by the satisfaction of blasting meteors out of the sky for the first time. The designer has sought to carefully emulate Missile Commands’ basic thrills here and you can tell that a lot of care and detail went into the moment when a player activates a defence. Comets explode with a resounding (and optional) shake of the screen, turrets fire off cascades of thumping bullets, and should a live nuke ever touch down on your base then the spectacular mushroom cloud almost makes up for your immediate defeat!
Missile Cards is a fun little time-waster to say the least, but the lack of any clear indication as to when a new level unlocks hurts it. Earning upgrades, achievements, and new cards can already feel too grindy and every moment that the cool-looking boss level is put off is just further risk that players will eventually give up due to the monotony that inevitably sinks in.
Similarly, you have no real control over your deck or what cards appear during play. The game actually has a somewhat automated feel where the player simply loads up a weapon and waits, hoping that the cards they want to see show up in the correct order. That’s not to say that the game is totally devoid of planning or interaction, but Missile Cards certainly has the quickfire qualities that would suit its mobile versions better than its Steam release.
Fortunately though, Missile Cards is still a fairly unique spin on the genre and its cheap price tag and accessible gameplay is sure to please those looking for a brief slice of entertainment without expense or tutorial time creating a barrier.