Publisher/developer Grand Cru Format iOS Release Out now
The polar ice caps have melted, but Grand Cru’s vision of the future is a bright, happy kind of dystopia. Here, cartoon humans are rescued from the flood by superheroes and transported by rocket into space to find new homes on a floating asteroid, which you’re in charge of expanding. You’ll use machines to craft raw materials and bots to transform them into the building blocks for structures and decorations. You’re in charge of the rescue operation as well, a caped crusader with a multipurpose zapper doing the job of the supposed saviours. Supernauts gives you plenty to do, which might well be its undoing.
The early stages certainly keep you busy, with objectives completed in seconds rather than minutes, and there’s a tangible sense of progress. As your asteroid evolves into a mass of moving parts and pulsing icons, however, the clean, colourful aesthetic becomes cluttered. Soon irksome wait timers for every process ration out your interactions. You can speed things along with gems, of course, but demand quickly outstrips supply and all but the most patient will be dipping into their virtual wallets before long.
Still, once you do have enough materials, you can begin to personalise your home. Most new pieces of land come with 3D templates – cottages and castles, statues and flags – and while you’re only rewarded for completing the blueprint, you’re free to embellish it at any time. Alternatively, you can buy an empty square and construct something of your own design.
You’ll soon run out of space unless you complete the objectives given by your robot assistant, which allow you to expand your boundaries and obtain new resources. By far the quickest way to achieve this is to dabble in the block market, completing time-limited requests for supplies to earn coins. This in turn leaves you short of materials with which to build, essentially forcing you to choose between creativity and progress.
Take a break on Earth, however, and you’ll be itching to return to the stars once more. Each rescue attempt entails locating a zapper to destroy obstacles block by block before using the material you’ve accumulated to build a bridge or stairway so the rescuee can make their way to the rocket. Bonus missions wrongly assume that you find this process entertaining enough to repeat it several times over the course of a single area.
Supernauts is both too limited to succeed as a townbuilder and frustratingly restrictive as a creative tool, while its superhero interludes are disempowering and dull. Grand Cru boasts that it has made the most ambitious iOS game of all time; that may be true, but it doesn’t make the result any less muddled.
Once humans are settled on board your bright patch of astroturf, you’re tasked with ‘educating’ them, which allows you to collect more money from them over time. We’re sure we don’t need to labour the metaphor