There is no denying that real-time strategy games are a hard nut to crack on mobile devices. It's tough to fit all of the intricate play mechanics, complicated strategy, and extensive storyline into a touchscreen. Planets Defense does a great job of making the controls work for high-speed gameplay and micro-management, but it still isn't quite a fully realized strategy experience. All things considered, it's still lot of fun and one of the best efforts I've seen.


Imagine mixing together the artistic style and baser strategies of StarCraft with the simple command and combat of Galaxy Empire. As you might have guessed, the result is very familiar - it has been done several times in the past. However, Planets Defense improves on this formula by balancing management of individual unit activity with the need to automate some of the more mundane operations.

Your time will be split pretty evenly between two perspectives: the on-planet base builder, and the solar system battle view. Planets are operational centers for collecting resources and building combat ships, all of which is accomplished through erecting buildings for production and defense. Since planets are limited in the number of facilities they can support, there is a balancing act between collecting raw materials and preparing for war.


Combat is very fluid, basically relying only on the player to direct ships toward orbital body to either guard it or shoot it. Ship-to-ship fire is managed entirely by the AI, but there is little need for detailed control. Most battles are really just about letting the missiles fly. Obviously, this is pretty simple compared to proper RTS games, and it does lack some of the grandiose flair and intensity that can only be had with truly epic battles. Half of the fun for this genre comes from frantically clicking or getting into the zone where every single action is performed with elegant precision. While this game isn't going to give you the same thrill, managing base and ship construction in concert with very frequent attacks will definitely keep you on your toes.

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Between levels, you can perform technology upgrades with "energy sources" collected during missions. This in-game currency seems to be moderately slow flowing and mostly random, but levels can be replayed to grind out a bit more if necessary. There is another element of gameplay that is absolutely vital to success and pretty uncommon in this genre, all of your unspent resources carry forward from one battle to the next. Because of this dynamic, revisiting easier missions to build up a cache becomes a legitimate component to conquering some of the higher levels.

With all of this talk about resources and rare currency, you might expect in-app purchases to be crawling about. Believe it or not, there isn't a single IAP to be found. Unfortunately, there is no multiplayer and the full game isn't extremely long at 25 missions, but it's still very worth the price at only $1.98. There is also a free demo available with a tutorial and the first 2 levels, which I strongly recommend for testing on your device; I had a really bad issue with touch targets on my Nexus 7 that didn't appear on my HTC One. Despite a few issues, I really enjoyed Planets Defense and I would definitely call it a must-have if you even remotely enjoy real-time strategy.

Cody Toombs
Cody is a Software Engineer and Writer with a mildly overwhelming obsession with smartphones and the mobile world. If he’s been pulled away from the computer for any length of time, you might find him talking about cocktails and movies, sometimes resulting in the consumption of both.

  • Mat

    I want Starcraft!!!!

    • fixxmyhead

      Also Warcraft

  • Yorick

    Starcraft works pretty good with winulator on android, so I'll just stick with that.

    • http://www.tekshop.us/ TekShop

      How are the controls? It's hard to imagine SC without a mouse and keyboard.

      • Yorick

        Quite good actually. If you really want to you can plug in an usb keyboard and mouse and play like that.
        The on-screen control system works good as well - of course you wouldn't stand a chance against a human with a pc but it's more than good enough to play the campaign. You can add buttons for all hotkeys you'll ever need (like rightclick, A, control groups and so on) and there's an arrow-widget for panning the screen (which is the only thing that can be a bit cumbersome at times, because I tend to press next to the arrow.) There's also an option for a temporary zoom-in if you need to do a precision click (like clicking on the correct position on the minimap).
        I'm at the tenth terran mission so far and I mostly play on the train, so it plays fine.

        • http://www.tekshop.us/ TekShop

          Cool, thanks. I will have to try this out.

    • FirefighterMatt56

      I agree. I've been playing it during lunch at work and everyone usually huddles around me to watch. Sure it crashes every now and again but still way better then nothing.

  • lawgreen

    is there a tactical Pause button ?
    RTS on mobile platform should have one..

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      Not even a full pause, which is a little annoying. I didn't really find a tactical pause necessary on this one and I'm fairly close to finishing it (I kinda cracked out on it last night). Right now, the only real way to pause the game is to switch away from the app, which kind of sucks, but I wouldn't be surprised to see an update fairly soon that includes a few fixes and improvements (especially to fix the Nexus 7 bug).

      • lightworks

        just submitted update 1.04 to Google Play (it usually take about 1-2h to go live), nexus7 bug should be fixed (both demo and full version),
        you can comment here if any problems found - I will try to fix them asap

        thanks for playing and for the feedback!

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

          There aren't many games that I keep playing after I write about them... Kudos for making one that's pretty fun.

          May I recommend a multiplayer mode of some kind. The game mechanics seem well suited for network play and I'm relatively certain that it would get the attention of really serious RTS addicts.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/lightworksgamestudio/home lightworks

            Yes, I was thinking multiplayer + campaign with an infinite number of missions - imagine something like the whole universe generated - and the missions would get harder and harder as you go...hmm, If I could only sell, roughly, around 3k copies - I think I could be on it right away:) will see

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

          Touches on the N7 seem a little better, but still really unreliable.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/lightworksgamestudio/home lightworks

            Ok, now its fixed! Pixel density on N7 is huge:)

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/cody-toombs/ Cody Toombs

            Did you get the link I sent through your website? I made a video on v1.05. It's much better, but the problem is still there.

          • https://sites.google.com/site/lightworksgamestudio/home lightworks

            didnt get the link, but if you be so kind and send it here: lightworksgames -at- gmail.com, many thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/ElimentalD Ed Limental

    This looks more like a dumbed down Sins of the Solar Empire for Android.
    Might just take a look at it, thanx,