Monday 22 April 2024

Lunar Lander Beyond Review (Switch)

It’s been great how Atari have been using their back catalogue lately. We’ve had collections, reimaginings and some interesting new attempts at franchises. Lunar Lander Beyond takes the original, inertia, based gameplay and expands it into a more fully fledged, story based, title with cut scenes and missions.

The first thing to say is that the cut scenes are beautiful. They look like a space cartoon and there’s a lot of them, so some serious effort has been put into the presentation here. It gives the game a similar vibe to one of our favourites – Velocity. The general presentation has been given a more modern feel as well. You get a galaxy map to show your progress and a clear list of missions in each area. Supporting information such as how to get different grades is also included.

There’s more variety on offer as well as players can pick from different pilots and ships. A few are available to begin with but most need to be unlocked by rescuing or finding them within missions. The pilots in particular are quite different in terms of their buffs, so consideration is needed from players.

When in the game players have three separate bars to think about. You have your ships health, fuel and finally a stress meter for the pilot. If any of the bars run out completely it’s mission over. It means as well as picking up credits you are also always on the look out for health, fuel and sanity drops as well. Of course, you generally have a ticking clock to fight as well so there’s a lot going on.

The stress meter is the most interesting as your pilot will start to hallucinate if it gets too high. This we cause screen glitches and random surreal stuff to appear. It also means that your pilot will need to get medical attention after a while, and you’ll need to use somebody else while they undergo therapy. It’s an interesting layer to the game that adds something different.

It’s likely that you’ll need a bit of practice to get the hang of the controls. In theory they are simple, with a thrust button and some added gadgets like stabilisers and boosters. In reality though, the inertia and gravity-based gameplay is an uncommon game mechanic and we struggled to do anything to begin with. Slowly though, you begin to understand how to move the ship around effectively and then you’ll start to make real progress through the missions.

The missions themselves generally involve getting the ship from one point to another. But occasionally you’ll do something else such as having to intercept falling meteors to protect a settlement. The maze-like levels are excellent though so it never really becomes an issue in terms of repetition. The biggest barrier players will face is how tough it is as you’ll really need to put the time into learning the finer points of piloting the ship to progress far.

Overall, Lunar Lander Beyond is an excellent reimagining of the classic game. It seems basic on the surface but there’s a ton of depth once you get into it. There’s a whole host of upgrades and things to play around with and it looks and sound great. But it will also cause a lot of frustration as it requires time and patience to get the best out of it. If you are up for a challenge, then it comes highly recommended.

Overall 8/10

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