Review: NeonSurge SolarQuest
On July 30, 2008, iLounge published iPhone Gems: Cards, Gambling + Arcade-Style Games, a feature article looking at seven assorted games developed for the iPhone OS. This review focuses on only one title from the collection; you can read the full article, with screenshots of all of the games together, through the link above.
The early days of arcade and computer gaming introduced players to a number of space-themed game concepts, including Lunar Lander, where you controlled a ship’s thrust and direction as it tries to safely land on the Moon, and Defender, where you piloted a ship that zipped through horizontally presented scrolling alien planets, trying to shoot rather than crashing into other spacecrafts. SolarQuest ($3) from NeonSurge is a melding of these two games with modern graphics and certain reductions: like Lunar Lander, you need to constantly maintain control over your ship’s vertical position to keep it from scraping the ceiling, ground, or other obstacles, and like Defender, you’re zipping across alien landscapes at as high a speed as you can tolerate using an on-screen right arrow button. Unlike Defender, though, you’re not shooting anything, just collecting coins, and you can’t turn around; SolarQuest is all about progressing from left to right to clear levels.
On a positive note, SolarQuest’s graphics are actually pretty impressive. The coins, ships, and certain obstacles are 3-D models, while the backgrounds are attractive flat bitmaps with parallax layers of scrolling. On the flip side, there’s no music, very little audio accompaniment for the action, and the gameplay is at best simplistic, at worst not a lot of fun. The premise is essentially to beat the effects of gravity and speed while collecting points and advancing through eight levels, a concept that could as easily apply to a classic dune buggy game such as Moon Patrol, but it gets old pretty quickly here. When you lose all your ships and start from the beginning, you probably won’t care to keep playing the same old boring stages again. We’d rate SolarQuest in the C range, because it needs something more to really prove compelling, but between the quality bitmapped artwork and the 3-D ship animation, we wouldn’t be surprised if either this title or a sequel eventually proved to be worthy of a higher rating.