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Feeling the need for side-scrolling speed? Hit the afterburners and pilot your space-racer through one gorgeous obstacle course after another.
If not for the licensing rights, SolarQuest could have been called Star Trek: Shuttlecraft Run. As the pilot of the Delta Flyer—er, nameless spacecraft—it’s your job to race from one end of an intergalactic obstacle course to the other, gathering power-ups and extra points as you go. Just try not to get distracted by all the eye candy.
Indeed, SolarQuest is one sweet-looking game, from the poster-worthy interstellar backgrounds that adorn each level to the geek-tastic ship that zips through them. To steer up and down, you tilt your iPhone accordingly. A nifty onscreen accelerometer displays in real-time the degree of tilt, but you probably won’t have much chance to look at it: Your eyes need to stay focused on the side-scrolling action. See, your ship is constantly moving, albeit slowly. To get through the course faster (and get a higher score), you need to lay on the afterburner button. Of course, this makes steering quite a bit more difficult, and therein lies the challenge: If you bump into the terrain or any of the obstacles (some of which move or drop), your shield takes a hit. A couple hits and you’re toast.
Fortunately, power-ups dot each course. There’s a shield booster and the occasional extra ship. Mostly, however, you’ll encounter 1,000-point coins—this is a points-driven game, after all. But why only two kinds of power-ups? For that matter, why no weapons? SolarQuest all but begs for a laser turret or heat-seeking missile. The game also has just four kinds of obstacles and 11 total levels (which, for the record, can be played in reverse upon completion).
Now, if you’re the kind of gamer who likes striving for the highest score, you won’t mind the lack of variety (think: Donkey Kong). And SolarQuest pushes you to keep competing by allowing you to submit your scores to an online leaderboard, where you can see how you compare with other players. Plus, the game has some undeniably nice little touches, like debris that flies “at you” when your ship explodes. Too bad you can’t do anything about the soundtrack: The heavy-metal loop is engaging for a while, but it gets old.
Like all game developers should, Neon Surge offers a free one-level trial version: SolarQuest Lite. But for a mere $2.99, the full game is a no-brainer buy for any who likes scrolling sci-fi action. And, hell, who doesn’t?Great for younger players and highly competitive types alike, SolarQuest pits you in a space-race against the clock. It’s well worth the price.