Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome enough to keep you busy until Monday, at least.
Lunar Racer (Free, Universal) is a side-scrolling 2D racing game set in space. Your lunar race car is customized to drive on the various moons within our solar system. So what’s the catch? In this racing game you don’t even steer!
The big difference between racing here on earth and racing on the moon is that the moon has a much lower gravitational force. This allows races on the moon to take place just as much above ground as on it. And that is how you win races — by balancing the amount of time you spend launching your racer into orbit, and how much time you spend grounded on the surface. In your lunar racer there are two controls: One you use to control your boost, and the other controls your gravity field. The first will propel you faster and faster into space, and the other will bring you right back down to the surface. As for acceleration, as soon as you are dropped off on the moon, your lunar racer automatically starts racing. There is no gas pedal, there are no breaks, and you don’t even have to steer. One full trip around the moon is a lap.
Giving your racer a boost of nitro just before hitting a crater, you can launch yourself into low orbit. Once your racer is space-borne, you have to control the pitch of your racer by tilting the device back and forth. This control not only prevents you from crashing, but also enables you to perform forward and backward flips. Your skills are further measured by how long you remain in space, as well as how well you land back on the surface. Each race will have three unique challenges where you will need to perform multiple combinations of these space stunts in order to earn more lunar bucks. Focusing on just the stunts will not help you win the race. Along the way, there are regenerating power ups that equips each racer with various weapons and shields to help you and your opponents on your way to victory.
The different terrain on the various moons in the solar system makes each race a unique challenge. Some moons are smooth, round and fast. While others are bumpy, oddly shaped and cavernous. But before you can race on the next moon, you have to earn your stars by winning races and completing challenges on the current moon. Each new moon race is unlocked buy a certain number of stars. On each moon there are two kinds of races where you can earn up to three stars each, an amateur tour and a pro tour. You must earn all three stars on a moon’s amateur tour before you can race and win stars on the pro tour.
Along the way you earn lunar bucks that can be used to upgrade your racer. While some of the upgrades are more about style, others do seem to have a real impact on the outcome of the race. Each combination of upgrades affect the speed and weight of the racer which in turn affects your ability to jump and land the vehicle. And where this is most important is when you challenge up to four of your friends in multiplayer mode. Over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, you will want to make sure that your customized lunar racer has what it takes to beat your local competition.