Lunar Racer iPad Review

Lunar Racer reminds us of Mario Kart in the sense that you can use power-ups against the competition, including land mines and heat-seeking missiles. Where this game separates itself from Nintendo's award-winning series is in its perspective (2D) and outer space themed environments, Rainbow Road notwithstanding.

Playing is simple enough. Pressing the left side of the screen activates a vehicle's Gravity Assist, yanking it back towards the track. Tapping the right side, meanwhile, controls Nitro, giving the car or truck a much-needed boost. There's also the power-ups button, located on the bottom.

Races are the usual point A to point B affairs, where the goal is to cross the finish line first by any means necessary. To make things more interesting, the developers at Noodlecake Studios throw purple objects around called Moon Bux, where picking them up increases your bank account, giving you the chance to upgrade your chosen ride's Body, Canopy, Wheels and Nitro. Not exactly the deepest customization we've seen, but it gives you something to work towards.

On top of that, each race contains secondary objectives designed to boost your score and Moon Bux. These include performing four backflips, making four perfect landings and four long jumps, as well as coming in first or second, by no means an easy feat on the more difficult Pro Tours.

In addition, you'll visit a smattering or locations from our solar system, like Jupiter, Mars and Saturn with more places on the way. Tracks usually feature different shapes and ramps, making each one a challenge.

There's multiplayer, but the designers limit it to Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, a real shame, since it would've been more ideal to play against random opponents from around the world and tie everything into a Game Center leaderboard.

As a result, we couldn't muster enough interest to continue playing Lunar Racer. Land mines are nearly impossible to avoid, and performing backflips by tilting the iPhone or iPad carries a steep learning curve. More often than not, we crashed and lost our position. That's a shame, because doing these backflips results in added Nitro; we suggest using Gravity Assist to land safely.

Beyond that, the game doesn't have enough of that special something to keep us entertained. You only have four competitors per race, and the aforementioned upgrades do little to excite us. Good game. Well designed. Cute 2D visuals, but not something we intend to play months and even weeks from now.

Online play, though, could change that.

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad.Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

Download Lunar Racer

What's Hot: Twelve unique tracks, grabbing as many Moon Bux as possible, simple yet cute 2D graphics, Game Center, universal.

What's Not: No online play, not enough weapons, gets boring fast.