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Lunar Racer Review

By Andrew Nesvadba, on January 9, 2012


Lunar Racer
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • Relatively smooth progression; amateur races gear you up skill-wise for pro races.
  • Local multiplayer for true Kart-style fun; missiles are simultaneously your best friend and worst enemy.
  • Gorgeous visual design; bright and colorful with clever interface elements (map).

CONS

  • AI can flip on a dime from stupid to god-like making some wins all but luck based.
  • MoonBux provide no meaningful difference in gameplay; a poor motivator for achievements and wins.

VERDICT

Lunar Racer may not be as unique as it had hoped to be on launch, but its fast flipping and nitro-boosting Kart-style racing is both eye-popping and fun at the same time.


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When Noodlecake Studios first told us that their next project was like a mash-up between Tiny Wings and Mario Kart, I have to say I was equally worried and excited about it. Excited because it's a genius little concept and worried because there's a fine line that must be tread by all 'Kart' games to remain fun no matter where you end up at the finish line. While Lunar Racer manages to pull off the basic concept with ease, a combination of control and content woes brings the game short of racing excellence.

Each race takes place on a roughly circular moon (cleverly described by a rotating 'map' in the top corner) against a handful of AI controlled opponents. The 2D side-scrolling racer handles acceleration automatically, leaving the player to manage nitro boosts, weapon pick-ups, and a gravity generator that sucks the vehicle to the ground. Performing stunts (flips) and landing tops up the nitro tanks, while gravity needs to be carefully applied to keep you on the ground for maximum speeds.

Sadly this isn't the first time we've seen a concept similar to this, with the recently released Road Warrior taking a crack at the formula, however it fell short of the mark thanks to a lack of variety in gameplay.

Of course the usual assortment of weapons and boosts can mess things up (landing on your roof is also not advised), but aside from shielding yourself it's all but impossible to prevent being hit. (Ed note: I've noticed missiles occasionally dropping away if you're fast/far enough away, though this wasn't often) This can be frustrating when you're bombarded repeatedly simply because you're the current leader or can't avoid a series of mines due to a lack of elevation control. Aside from these moments, mastering the controls is necessary to unlock various achievements, earning 'MoonBux' to customize your vehicle's appearance.

There are 12 stages in total to unlock, with two requiring players to win local network multiplayer matches, and an additional 'Pro' difficulty for those who want to race against skilled AI opponents.

Lunar Racer manages to keep the same simplistic charm and beautiful aesthetics that made Noodlecake's previous effort Super Stickman Golf such a classic title. At times this can leave the levels looking spartan, but there's enough variety in level design to keep you hooked on the available content.

Screenshots

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