With the huge success of Doodle Jump, the critical darling that is Canabalt, and the recent reveal of Avalanche Game, the never-ending platformer genre is really taking off. Tractor Beam isn’t exactly a platformer due to its unique method of movement, but it’s every bit as worthy as those other games.
Tractor Beam places you and your space craft square in the middle of an asteroid field. The trouble? You’re out of fuel, and the only method of propulsion is to latch your tractor beam onto nearby asteroids and slingshot yourself forward. Just don’t touch other asteroids, because even the slightest nudge blows you and your crew to smithereens, venting your lifeless bodies into space.
Tractor Beam isn’t complex, and its graphical style reflects that. What it lacks in depth it makes up for in sheer originality. The new momentum versus gravity method of sling-shotting yourself at breakneck speed is supremely challenging, yet it’s a ton of fun and immensely rewarding once you learn a few maneuvers.
Pretty soon you’ll be zig-zagging between asteroids with ease and pulling off moves you never would have thought possible. The tractor beam-based movement that once seemed so restrictive is actually very liberating.
The developers have also figured out a way to make sure you’re never accidentally placed in an impossible situation, like how you are in some games with randomly generated environments. Tractor Beam pumps out a ton of increasing challenge, while always ensuring there is some way (even if it’s quite difficult) of defeating it.
Tractor Beam is some of the most fun we’ve had with $0.99 on the iPhone, and we still can’t put it down.