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Lunar Lander Beyond

Lunar Lander Beyond

Dreams Uncorporated has given an arcade classic a shiny new coat of paint in this modern interpretation.

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This is one of those really rare instances where your parents might be more familiar with a new game than you are. If your parents owned an Atari video game console at some point in their childhood, or even frequented arcades, they may have run into a little game called Lunar Lander. It's a very basic concept that never really did a whole lot to cement itself as a great game, but that's largely because the original Lunar Lander didn't have many of the more modern elements that we come to expect from games. This was effectively a technical demo from the 70s that showed that humanity was capable of creating digital entertainment.

But it's making a comeback. Aatri has tapped Dreams Uncorporated to put their own spin on the original Lunar Lander formula in Lunar Lander Beyond. This means modern graphics and use of actual art, a narrative that has been baked in, various progression elements and gameplay mechanics, however the core and key gameplay is very much the same as it was over four decades ago.

Lunar Lander Beyond
Lunar Lander BeyondLunar Lander Beyond

Now this is for the better or worse. I say this because Lunar Lander has never actually had great gameplay, and despite Dreams Uncorporated's hand-drawn visuals and the other new features, none of it hides the fact that Lunar Lander is not a particularly fun game. The idea is that you use a ship using a momentum-based physics suite to zip around 2D levels, avoid hazards and danger, pick up resources along the way, and ultimately land in a specific place after completing a slate of objectives. It's a very basic concept that never really goes much further than what we've come to expect from this game over the years, and it isn't the simplicity that's the issue, it's the fact that it feels clunky and frustrating to play. There's no sense of fluidity or thrill, it's just a chore, regardless of the mission objectives, the ship or pilot you choose, the upgrades you select, or even the location of the level.

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Fortunately, Lunar Lander Beyond doesn't overstay its welcome (or perhaps it does, if you consider a couple of hours of playtime too long). There are only 32 levels scattered over a few different locations, and each level usually takes just a couple of minutes to overcome. If you're looking to complete every challenge at hand, the playtime doesn't even really get extended much either, as to achieve the elusive gold medal in each level, you have to complete the level quicker than a set time and without taking any ship damage. Believe me, despite the simple level design, due to the tough to manage mechanics, this is a nightmare to achieve a lot of the time.

Lunar Lander BeyondLunar Lander Beyond
Lunar Lander Beyond

As I've said before, Dreams Uncorporated has attempted to plaster over the many core cracks in this game's armour. There's a narrative here now, and while it doesn't really draw the player in, it's much better to have some story element than none at all. The different types of ships do alleviate some of the control woes, and the different pilots that you can find and use and how they connect to the game's stress system makes how you approach each level more important. Essentially, the idea is that if your ship takes damage from hitting something, while you can repair said damage by finding health packs your pilot will retain permanent stress from the collision, which will impact how they perform in practice unless you spend currency and time to have their stress reduced. Matching this up with applicable and discoverable upgrades that make traversing the levels easier and also a collection of difficulty sliders to adjust the experience to suit you, you can see that Dreams Uncorporated has worked to make Lunar Lander Beyond a much more complete and refined experience than what Lunar Lander ever was.

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But it doesn't change the fact that this game just lacks a fun factor. Lunar Lander Beyond struggles to entertain and engage the player, mostly due to the fact that the core and base gameplay feels outdated and sluggish. While we can all thank Lunar Lander for being the predecessor to Asteroids, in the year 2024 that unfortunately doesn't make me want to play or dive back into this game any more.

05 Gamereactor UK
5 / 10
+
Ships are well defined and feel unique. Pilots have plenty of variety. Doesn't overstay its welcome. Great hand-drawn art.
-
Just isn't much fun to play. Clunky and stiff mechanics. Repetitive. Feels outdated.
overall score
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Lunar Lander Beyond

REVIEW. Written by Ben Lyons

Dreams Uncorporated has given an arcade classic a shiny new coat of paint in this modern interpretation.



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