To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, casual gaming masterminds of Nimblebit, makers of the previous top sellers Scoops and Sky Burger, have gifted us with a genuine Lunar Pod Lander Simulator (surely based on top secret NASA specs).
The gameplay mechanics, just like Nimblebit's other masterpieces, are simplicity incarnate. Tap on the screen to repel and slow down a cluster of Lunar Pods so that they all land safely on the landing pad. Wherever you touch the screen the next to a group of Lunar Pods they will be repelled from that point. While this system makes landing a single pod a breeze, handing a group can get tricky since these touches will affect all members of the group within the range of the touch's effects. If you drift off the screen to the left you'll appear on the right hand side of the screen and visa versa. The landing pad is in the center third of the ground so you not only need to make sure all pods touch down on the landing pad, you need to make sure they aren't coming in too fast (those little green lights on the pods will turn red if the pod is coming in too fast).
Simply landing a single pod is worth a single point plus maybe a bonus based on how centered you landed on the pad. When you land a larger group simultaneously you'll also be entitled to a group bonus. So your ideal situation is to wrangle that random cluster of Lunar Pods in such a way as to land all of them in one large group in the exact center of the landing pad. You are only allowed to lose 3 Lunar Pods before you're terminated from your post. The only exception to this is during the Bonus Waves in which there is no penalty for losing any of the pods coming at you in some wacky formation. As an extra added bonus, at the end of each wave, bedsides getting a breakdown of your bonuses, you'll get one of the game's dozens of tongue in cheek quotes from one of the newly arrived colonists like, "Wow, this place looked a lot smaller from back home."
The game's graphics are sharp cartoony 2D with pretty minimal animation short of the blinking landing lights and occasional flash of thrusters from the Lunar Landers. I found the sound fairly weak, a cheesy 8-bit soundtrack and otherwise almost nothing but some bloops and bleeps. I think they were intentionally going for a minimalistic retro vibe with the sound, so I don't think it was by accident or due to incompetence. The controls, while it might take a few seconds to get how the touch repelling aspect works at first, are spot on and easy to use.
Overall I think it's a fun game which takes a pretty simple concept and manages to jazz it up with a lot of pizzazz, fun quotes, and clever scoring. I wouldn't think this is a game that could hook one for hours straight but, at the same time, might stay on your iDevice for quite some time for that occasional little burst of play.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: -4- Sharp cartoony 2D. Sound: -3- The sounds are pretty minimal and, besides some cheers, sound very intentionally 8-bit retro. Controls: -5- Very intuitive and responsive. Gameplay: -4- The game is addictive in its simplicity. Successfully land bigger groups of Lunar Pods. So while it might remain on your iDevice for a while, it will most likely only occupy you for quick occasional bursts.
Playing Hints and Tips: -It's all about the grouping! While your primary job is to not let colonists smash into the ground, to maximize your points try to land your colonists in a big group.
-Try to be subtle in your adjustments! If you get too ham-fisted in your adjustments it's pretty easy to accidentally send one of your colonists into a wacky orbit around the screen.