Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 4
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Noodlecake Studios are back with their first iOS title that doesn't involve stickmen and/or golf. Lunar Racer can be best distilled as a cross between kart racing and a flip-happy vehicle game like Dream Track Nation. Players race around two-dimensional circular race tracks with limited gravity. The vehicles can spin in mid-air, and flips with perfect landings grant additional nitro, deployable by holding down on the right side of the screen. As airtime is a big factor in the game, each racer also has a gravity assist which pulls them back down to the track. This helps with sticking landings, or to help regain speed when stuck in a slow, floaty jump. Of course, there are plenty of powerups to use to help thwart opponents.
Lunar Racer absolutely nails the pacing needed for a mobile racing game - races take anywhere from 30-90 seconds at most to complete. This means that while obtaining first place in races often means that runs with few if any crashes must be made, it's easy to get back in and try again. The tracks also boast plenty of replay value, with stars to unlock on each one for better placement, optional goals that unlock runs on a bonus track full of MoonBux that can be spent on customizations, and Pro races with relentless opponents. The game also boasts a soundtrack from Whitaker Trebella who does a great job with making a punchy soundtrack that fits the space theme of the game well.
The game has a very floaty feel to it; getting used to this takes a lot of time, and learning when to use the gravity assist along with mastering the very sensitive tilt controls is key. The game includes a multiplayer mode, but sadly unlike Super Stickman Golf it isn't online-enabled at launch, which would have been fantastic; the game has some potential for hectic online matches with friends, so hopefully it will be coming in a future update. I love that the game is a universal app, but iCloud sync for MoonBux and upgrades would be welcome! As well, while the distribution of MoonBux is certainly plentiful, it isn't immediately apparent if the upgrades that they can be spent on are merely cosmetic or actually performance-enhancing. The game's own verbiage states that there are "upgrades" but I can't tell if there are actually any performance increases. Pro races at least feel like they're beatable through improved performance, not through improved vehicles, so I'm just not entirely clear on the effect of everything.
Lunar Racer's fast-paced take on the action racer has a lot going for it, and is definitely worth keeping an eye on in the future. There's plenty of room for more tracks, modes, and vehicles. Noodlecake Studios does not disappoint with this one.