Artsy cosmonauts on Mars: Gravity Lander

One of everyone's favourite arcade games has to be Atari's Lunar Lander. You've probably played it at some point of your life—trying to land the spaceship module safely administering your fuel. Some developers have attempted to bring the experience to the App Store with different luck, but tweaking gameplay elements and keeping a superb retro art style has done the trick this time.

Gravity Lander PRO [iTunes Link] by Büro Destruct is the new take on the arcade classic where you have to land a rocket avoiding the several obstacles. This alone wouldn't be worth mentioning if it wasn't for the gameplay twist to make it more suitable for a mobile device.

Instead of flying around slowly taking advantage of the Moon's low gravitational forces, you start on top of a pile of geometrical shapes in the way between your cosmonaut team and the landing base. Simply tap the black and white pieces to make them disappear and let the gravitational pull do its work. 

As you progress through the 100 levels, new objects including explosives, pinball bumpers, debris and wheels are introduced to add some difficulty and randomness to the game. In order to negotiate these, you'll need to use the tilt controls on your iPhone to make these wacky structures fall to the sides while you get to the landing platform. Tilting also affects your rocket, adding extra puzzle mechanics and a strategy element to pass the most complex missions. 

Unlike the classic game and its subsequent versions, in Gravity Lander your fuel deposit is limited to three boosts, giving you some extra freedom to remove items before landing. This isn't, however, a perfect solution, since you'll need a big dose of luck to end the level without crashing—as you can see in my video. It takes several  to get a perfect landing, but the trial-and-error method works well thanks to very quick levels and a retry button.

What really sets Gravity Lander aside from other cheap casual games populating the App Store is its great visuals. Büro Destruct has gone for a pixel retro look with a limited colour palette, which elevates this quick time-killer game to an absolute graphical beauty. Fonts and music has also been carefully picked, contributing to the overall high quality end product. 

The game is structured in very short levels across different planets where your score is based on the typical three start rating. Gravity Lander could easily be a breed between the gameplay in Finger Physics and the simple artsy style of Pix'n Love Rush.

There is a free version for you to check out the first 52 missions or you can also play a browser version. I encourage you to have a look even if it's only for the graphics. Its shelf life might be short but it's a pleasure to look at and quite entertaining to play.