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Lunar Lander Beyond Review 

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I don’t remember when I first played Lunar Lander, but I’d hazard a guess that it was in the mid-1980s, probably on a Commodore 128, an Atari ST or the good old Amiga. It may even have been one of the plethora of clones to come out of the moderately successful original. It was probably that which was more likely the case.

Whenever and wherever it was though, it left a bit of an impression on me, one that has continued for decades, heightened by the release of Lunar Lander Beyond. 

You see, from the moment Atari mentioned that they were coming back to market with a ‘new’ Lunar Lander, I was there, ready to blast off into space. I mean, with the success of Atari, their Recharged series and the Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration in recent years, there’s not much that could go wrong with a reimagined, reworked, Lunar Lander Beyond.

And that is indeed the case. In fact, aside from a bit of a wordy, chatty story that I could have done without, much of Lunar Lander Beyond is great. The gameplay, the most important bit, excels. 

Lunar Lander Beyond review 1
A classic brilliantly reimagined

In Lunar Lander Beyond, you take on the role of the captain of the Pegasus Corporation. A galactic adventure awaits, as you jump into a variety of unlockable ships, creating a squad of the best pilots, making your way across various lunar landscapes, looking for survivors, uncovering secrets, trying to land. That’s Lunar Lander Beyond in a nutshell. And it plays out across numerous stages, pushed by a story. 

Ah, that story. I’ll admit, I’m not the best person to be left worrying about narrative, much preferring to get on with the gameplay at hand. But whilst the chronicles are written well, accompanied by some fantastic art (fantastic art that unfolds into the gameplay too), I just can’t get over the acting and voice work. It’s all too lengthy, too wordy, too much of ache to sit through. So it’s thankful that skipping is doable. And the ‘AI’ vibes? I really could do without them. 

I know that for many that narrative will be key to setting Lunar Lander Beyond. But honestly, I’ve been left just wanting to get on with the action, to take to this galactic adventure without a care in the world. 

Running through various missions, objectives and challenges, the vast majority of Lunar Lander Beyond sits with the need to scour a scrolling stage, heading up, down, left and right, in order to fulfil a requirement. That may be to grab a lost survivor so that they can join the ranks of your elite pilots, or you may be going deep into enemy territory, dodging missiles, mines or lightning strikes, coping with strong winds and more. Ultimately, whatever the mission, it has you landing somewhere. Do so without taking too much damage, or seeing your pilots succumb to ever-increasing stress levels, and your job is a good un. Stage complete. Onto the next. Once you’ve sat through another few minutes of that cringe narrative. 

Everything in Lunar Lander Beyond is delivered nicely too. You start with traversing Nueva Luna, before heading on to Mars, to Venus, Ganymede and Etimus. With each planet and galaxy playing host to multiple stages, the time taken for completion, the amount of credits you pick up, damage taken and more are then all taken into account. Your reward? Medals to hang around your neck; to tempt you into replaying in hope of grabbing something ever-more shiny. 

Lunar Lander Beyond review 2
We love the little Dragonfly

Various unlockable ships help your cause. You start Lunar Lander Beyond in the standard Beetle – something that will be capable of dragging up memories from years gone by. Powered by thrusters, as you tick off missions and collect new upgrade blueprints, these can then be added, aiding your cause. There are a variety of upgrades available, with you assigning them as you wish to three face buttons. Each means that you can go at the objectives in Lunar Lander Beyond in different ways too; again, amplifying the replayability. 

Additional ships come in – the buzzy little Dragonfly, the fast Spider, the Mantis. Again, once unlocked these are available for use, whenever, however, you like. We’ve found that tackling certain stages in a specific ship is the best course of action. 

There are pilots too. Gathering up a squad of the finest is easy in Lunar Lander Beyond, especially as the tale and the stages are ticked off. But those guys and girls need managing, with ship damage and stress levels causing hallucinations to arise, confusing matters as you try and concentrate on an objective. And multiple other pilot skills pop up too, again, ensuring certain pilots may be better suited to a job. 

The real skill in keeping on top of your fleet and pilots is by keeping all happy, sticking some in the med bay in hope of reducing stress, keeping them fresh for future levels. But of course, medical bills cost – either in terms of cash or time away from the action. That stress mechanic is a really good inclusion for Lunar Lander Beyond, as you are left to switch between pilots as you go. 

With loads of secrets to hunt, multiple pathways to navigate and a good number of stages to take in, Lunar Lander Beyond plays really well. More so when you consider the Easy, Normal, Hard and Insane difficulty levels, each with varying options in fuel consumption, damage, mission failure states, opportunities to retry and XP rewards. But it’s in the visuals and ship control where it goes beyond again. 

Lunar Lander Beyond review 3
… and when stress levels rise, so does madness.

Honestly, my very first takeaway from Lunar Lander Beyond was found in the ship controls. Floaty but just about as precise as you need, initial moments with Beyond may feel a struggle. Yet once everything clicks with those ships, especially in terms of how each handles and how each mod and upgrade affects things, it becomes an absolute joy. Feeding ships through tight passageways never fails to excite; nor does skipping away from danger with a flick of a stick. 

And all this is to say that Lunar Lander Beyond is the bomb visually. It’s obviously moved on massively since the game that first came about four decades back, but it still feels like a Lunar Lander. The art style itself is super crisp, full of colour and a joy to behold. And yes, even the cut scenes accompanying the story earn praise. 

What we have with Lunar Lander Beyond is a brilliant reimagining of an old classic. If you have any memories of Lunar Lander from years past, then Beyond will drag them up immediately. It comes with a cracking art style, a good number of levels with plenty of replayability, ships, pilots and upgrades galore. Letting it down is a stilted story that loves itself a bit too much, but skip through that and you’ll find a galactic adventure that is more than worth taking in. It’s a proper Lunar Lander experience that is capable of taking you Beyond.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Extremely attractive visuals
  • Brilliant Lunar Lander vibing
  • Plenty of replayability
Cons:
  • Story may well get skipped
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Atari
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch
  • Release date and price - 23 April 2024 | £24.99
Neil Watton
Neil Wattonhttps://www.thexboxhub.com/
An Xbox gamer since 2002, I bought the big black box just to play Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee. I have since loved every second of the 360's life and am now just as obsessed with the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S - mostly with the brilliant indie scene that has come to the fore. Gamertag is neil363, feel free to add me to your list.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Extremely attractive visuals</li> <li>Brilliant Lunar Lander vibing</li> <li>Plenty of replayability</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Story may well get skipped</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Atari</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch <li>Release date and price - 23 April 2024 | £24.99</li> </ul>Lunar Lander Beyond Review 
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