Lunar Racer is a fairly standard 2D side-scrolling racer, but with one important addition: gravity. Or rather, the lack thereof. This game has you racing across moons throughout the galaxy, and as such you’ll have to deal with the fact that your car can fly through the air in ways that would be impossible on Earth. It’s not a huge change, but it’s enough to make Lunar Racer into a fun and addictive little game instead of just another 2D racer.
The controls in Lunar Racer are dead simple. Your lunar vehicle accelerates automatically around each circular race track, and each trip around the moon’s surface equals one lap. Tapping the right side of the screen controls your boost, while tapping the left side activates a gravity-control device. This device will quickly suck your vehicle back down to the moon’s surface. The controls may sound a little too easy, since you don’t have to steer or accelerate, but since you’ll spend almost as much time in the air as on the ground, you still have plenty to worry about.
Each track features a number of jumps and bumps that will send your vehicle careening into the air, and some smart use of your boost can turn these into massive leaps of faith. The trick, though, is that you can control your car while in the air. Tilting your device left or right will cause your vehicle to rotate, letting you pull off boost-earning flips and, more importantly, helping you avoid crashing nose-first when you hit the ground. Lunar Racer really forces you to pay attention in a way that few other racers ask of you. Racing gets even more hectic with the addition of power-ups like mines, missiles, and temporary shields.
Lunar Racer doesn’t have a huge number of tracks– you’ll be racing across a dozen different moons, with more listed as ‘coming soon’– but there’s plenty of incentive to replay them. Earning three stars can be difficult enough on some tracks, but doing so opens up a ‘pro’ version of the moon, adding even more challenge.
Each track also comes equipped with small, Jetpack Joyride-style achievements that are completely optional but add further incentive to keep playing, as does the virtual currency you’ll earn that can be used to slowly customize your lunar racer. The options are purely cosmetic, but it’s a nice addition nonetheless. When you add in the game’s multiplayer mode, which you’ll have to play to unlock the final two moons, you have a game with lots of replayability even without further updates.
It may seem gimmicky on the surface, but the gravity-infused gameplay adds a lot to Lunar Racer. The races are fast and fun, the visuals are colorful and charming, the controls work great, and there’s plenty of incentive to keep on playing tracks you may have already beaten. This all adds up to a great pick-up-and-play racer that feels right at home on the iPhone.