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Game Boy Advance
Arcade Simulation
Japan: July 27

bit Generations: Orbital

Orbital is like a cross between Gravitar and Katamari Damacy, but without any surface interaction. What remains? Gravity.


Orbital Orbital


Players begin as a tiny white satellite with the aim of becoming a Jovian gas giant able to balance the pull of a star to complete a new, Copernican solar system. While not completely grounded in the physics of our universe, controls are elegant nonetheless. Red force pulls the satellite toward gravity wells, blue force repels away from them, and white force attracts objects that can be captured.

Like real space travel, to get the most velocity players must use gravity to their advantage. Players can get into orbit around a large mass then slingshot away, but must be careful not to collide with it. A ring gives some indication of the relative strength and reach of gravitational forces of various bodies.

Stars and moons are yellow. Bodies more massive than the satellite are red, but turn blue when their mass becomes similar to your satellite. They then turn white when finally they can be captured as satellites. The challenge arises in how skillfully players balance their gravitational wandering; increasing mass is not the end goal, but a means to capture satellites to build each solar system. High scores and low clear times gauge player success.

Each of the six different galaxies sports its own subset of stages. Beyond simple navigation, players must avoid obstacles along the way. Debris fields, highly speedy (and imaginative) spinner planetary systems are just some of the obstacles players will encounter, to say nothing of large masses. Collision with any of these results in the loss of a life, represented by a satellite stock count in the upper right corner of the screen.

Interestingly, at the end of a stage the satellites captured in orbit are then added to current stock. This provides incentive both to maximize satellites before completing a solar system and to go back to completed stages to bolster satellite stock before tackling more challenging ones.

Mechanics aside, Orbital looks and sounds to please the eyes and ears. One of the galaxies sports Earth as one would see from space amidst a twinkling backdrop of stars. Players hear increases and decreases in pitch that accompany red and blue satellite force changes, while increases in mass are heralded by a cold, astral twinkling.

word on the street

Don't read any Japanese? Not a problem. You won't be able to read the instruction manual, but you likely won't have to. The premises here are extremely basic, and a little trial and error will reveal specific button controls. As with all games in the bit Generations series, what minimal text exists by way of main titles and headings is all in English with numbers in familiar Arabic style.

press release notes

Dots and lines, colors and sounds. bit Generations.

  • Dotstream
  • Boundish
  • Dialhex
  • Coloris
  • Orbital
  • Digidrive
  • Soundvoyager


The bit Generations software experiment by Nintendo is looking to reveal the roots of fun gameplay through simple, accessible design. All games in the series are retro-hip with little to no Japanese in them; yet they won't officially reach western shores for months to come, if at all. Intrigued? Why wait? Import!

Staff Avatar Paul Starke
Staff Profile | Email
"In Japan this was named a 'trouble bug.' (...Is it really a bug?)"

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