Intriguing music score from Strauss.
High score system.
Controls are poorly explained.
Only 20 levels.
No online leader boards.
Would like more game modes.
Terra Lander Review
I’m a humongous retro style fan and thoroughly enjoy playing old school games like Asteroids or Galaga. Yes, I’m a young man and those were behind my time but from previously working at an arcade for two years I learned to appreciate these games. When I was introduced to Terra Lander I knew right away this was going to be along those lines. Terra Lander is an upgraded version of an arcade game called “Lunar Lander” – sounds familiar – and it involved boosting around, aimlessly, to accurately land on platforms for a certain amount of points. What makes Terra Lander different?
Well, graphically the game uses what are called vector graphics. For anyone who doesn’t know of vector graphics it’s the use of lines, curves, or points based on mathematical expressions. A key example would be Geometry Wars for the Xbox 360 and PC. This style was used entirely in 80’s retro games and is presented in Terra Lander. Also, instead of using the original black and white lines and shapes the game adds color giving vibrancy in a dark atmosphere, especially in how the levels are designed – which are also incredibly basic. These graphics fit perfectly in the game and work properly in how the whole thing plays out, which brings me to my next point.
The gameplay of Terra Lander is not to be taken lightly. Unlike Lunar Lander where a ship is gliding in dead space trying to land on certain targets for points; Terra Lander implements the traveling from point A to point B by dodging landscapes and turrets without exploding into hundreds of pixels. There is one thing to keep an eye out for when flying the ship and that’s the fuel. Your craft has a fuel level making endlessly gliding in pixellated space not possible. Thankfully, Terra Lander offers fuel depots throughout the levels which are depicted as octagons with the hazardous signs. Obtaining the fuel requires them to be shot at. Yes, the space ship has a blaster but this is vaguely explained. Sadly, the controls are not described in the option menu but in the intro menu. You have to wait a few seconds for the title screen to switch through the high scores to finally reveal how to move the ship about and shoot. Even after finding out how to fire away I was still left with clicking my mouse and tapping my space key to get some form of satisfying result. This was frustrating but I eventually figured out that by holding down the left mouse button and dragging to the direction I wanted to shoot. I recommend plugging in a controller since using both analog sticks creates a more fluent feel but handling the keyboard and mouse works too.
Now that I was combat ready it was time to delve into the action. Turrets are high on accuracy – notably the purple ones – and dodging while firing is a skill to be had. While blasting away, the dotted bullets can ricochet off the colored lines causing intensified stress on the player while dodging. On the other hand, you do have a limitless amount of ammo – so fire away. Upon destroying a turret or fuel tank points are awarded and accumulated at the top left of the screen. After losing all four of your lives the points acquired are sent to a high scoreboard where you can write your name. I understand leaving an essence of arcade gaming but this misses the point of computer gaming. Why beat your own score when setting a global or local high score is more gratifying – the world may never know.
Now there are only 20 levels in Terra Lander and as you progress through each level it gradually increases in difficulty. The first couple of levels are a breeze but once you hit level seven get ready for some rage-intensified gaming. Luckily, for the less hardcore gamers, there is an option to start at the level previously died at but only with the lives you had when you reached said level. However, I find the given amount of levels to be disappointing and was hoping for more content even if the obstacles faced throughout the game were tough. Also, I wish the game offered more modes apart from the 20 levels given. Multiplayer, maybe?
Lastly, every retro game has a memorable song to be played on a repeated loop (Tetris’ Korobeiniki) and Terra Lander selects it perfectly. Using the classical score Blue Danube by Strauss is, possibly, the premium addition. If you find this annoying the game can be configured to stop playing music, but you’ll generally want to keep it on. Another sound constantly played through each level is the announcer. This bugger can get on your nerves. A digitized voice will wish you luck in the beginning of every level and congratulate you, coldly. If and when you botch up he will criticize on how poorly you performed while maneuvering or laugh at your failure to land on a platform.
Overall, Terra Lander is an interesting and unique game that reproduces the nostalgic atmosphere that was found in Lunar Lander. Whereas Lunar Lander was a simple concept, however, Terra Lander took the system further by adding the ability to blast and dodge turrets. Also listening to Strauss as your ship glides, elegantly, through each intense level is delightful. Alas, with only 20 levels, vaguely interpreted controls, and no online scoreboard or variety of modes I was left with the emptiness of being in space – lost forever.
Terra Lander Review
Fun Box Ltd
6th February 2015