Lunar Rescue Mission Review26 Jun 2019 0
Lunar Rescue Mission Review
Released 01 May 2019
Lunar Rescue Mission isn't a rigorous sim of space piloting; it's a successor to the great-granddaddy of arcade games, Lunar Lander. You pilot a collection of fragile space vehicles with sensitive, limited controls in rescue missions that end with the horrible deaths of all involved more often than not.
It's a good fit for mobile, with simple controls and mission stages that can be completed in less than a minute (on your four hundredth try, of course). It's also a difficult game, and sometimes tedious, which is going to limit its appeal.
You'll spend the most time with the lander, which requires only two buttons: they spin the craft when pressed one at a time and boost forward when pressed together. Realistic gravity and inertia make the challenge of the game. You'll have to toss your lander sideways through narrow crevices, then rapidly spin, level and slow yourself before hitting the opposite wall. To land, you'll need to negate your horizontal movement, and then control your vertical movement to a slow enough pace that you don't simply pancake on the landing pad. It's intense stuff.
There are also a few other vehicles to try. However, the land vehicles are pretty dull. You can only make them drive left and right, and they don't have the mass to stay grounded. Consequently, these sections are just exercises in patience as you slowly and deliberately roll them over hills when speeding up and launching straight into space would be far more entertaining. Sometimes they ride elevators.
Lunar Rescue Mission is quite difficult, particularly as there is little room for error. Getting a tiny bit off track is likely to result in your rescue module slamming into the side of a cave and having to restart from the last landing. This is par for the course for the genre but is frustrating here because of the amount of time it takes to restart. It's not immediately clear when a collision has taken your vehicle out of service and when it's recoverable, and even a totalled vehicle takes some time to settle down and show you the restart button.
On the other hand, Lunar Rescue Mission refills your fuel tank when you restart a checkpoint, taking away one of the major points of difficulty in the original arcade Lunar Lander. In the arcade, fuel was paid for with actual quarters, a 'micropayment' model that thankfully has not been replicated in this purely premium game.
For me, one of the most challenging aspects of the game was simply having the patience to play it. Some missions require long, dull travel followed by only a few short seconds of intense, risky wiggling into the landing zone. There's some really unnecessary context given for each mission with Metal Gear Solid-style talking radio heads.
There's earthquakes; people need to be rescued; this is all information that is better communicated visually. Each mission also requires you to bring in the mothership for a landing--a task that is only occasionally interesting or challenging--and take it off again at the end--a task that is almost never interesting or challenging. These additions really feel like padding to the fun of wriggling your lander through winding caves and settling gently between stacks of boxes.
There's additional challenges to be had if you're a big fan of the genre: hidden rescues and achievements for completing a level with no restarts. I found the base game challenging enough, but a Lunar Lander master will appreciate it. If you really want a lunar lander game, Lunar Rescue Mission has you covered, but it doesn't add enough to the genre to make it interesting for players more broadly.