Luna’s Wandering Stars

Lunas Wandering Stars - PlanetsMy nine-year-old crashed through the door one day excitedly demanding a piece of paper and pencil.

“Why do you need them?” asked my wife as she handed them over.

“SCIENCE!” And, off he went back outside writing down his observations.

I guess it doesn’t help that both my sons have been on a MythBuster’s binge on Netflix and have grown an incredible fascination with science. My eldest has been very interested in studying airplanes and flight, so when I heard about “Luna’s Wandering Stars”, it was the perfect opportunity to see what he thought of this educational game.

“Luna’s Wandering Stars” is a series of challenging physics puzzles staring our moon, “Luna.” Luna visits the nine planets* of the Solar System solving various physics puzzles. Each planet presents a unique set of challenges centered around a playable theme using Newtonian Physics. In the early levels, you launch Luna on various trajectories, much like “Angry Birds: Space.” In later levels, you are only given the ability to use thrusters to change your trajectory. And in another set of levels you can “change the gravitational constant of the universe”, with a flick of the mouse. And that is just for the starting planets! There are six more fun and interesting themes to discover.

To complete a level, you have to guide, launch, or boost Luna to collect asteroids. Once you collect enough asteroid mass, you pass the level. This can be easily accomplished, but the real challenge is collecting gold asteroids which unlock the other planets in the Solar System. To complicate matters, for every asteroid that is collected, Luna gains mass. This can affect the momentum and velocity of Luna in mid-flight, making it much more challenging than merely flinging birds in zero gravity.

*Kid's today aren't told the true story of Pluto, the missing planet

*Kid’s today aren’t told the true story of Pluto, the missing planet

The presentation is top-quality with beautiful space backgrounds and epic music encouraging you to step up to the challenge. To counter the almost overblown feeling of awesomeness is an ironic self-awareness: the game’s instructions and narration is loaded with dripping sarcastic humor. There are also a lot of quotes from all over geek-culture. I have to admit that I had to research the Shakespeare quote, but I laughed out loud when I saw a “Community” reference. It was hard explaining to my nine-year-old what was so funny with the commentary at the completion of each level and even with the narrator’s jabs for making epic failures.

Some of the levels are pretty challenging, and after about 30 minutes of deep concentrated play, my nine-year-old had to take a break. I continued to play, and there were even a few levels I had to skip or had to accept a less than perfect solution just to move onto the next challenge. Mileage may vary, but I thought that this game was perfect for teens to adults in terms of challenge.  However, one of the things I found missing was some sort of indicator that I had unlocked the next planet. An indicator for when the next planet unlocks is not only just for a good reference point, but for me it serves as a motivator to keep trying for more gold asteroids.

Even failing still looks spectacular.

Even failing still looks spectacular.

Just when I had thought that I had discovered everything the game had to offer, I noticed another button on the Start Menu that I hadn’t clicked before. I clicked the “Custom” button. I was entirely oblivious to what that meant. I thought it was just an “options” screen, but it turned out to be a full-fledged level editor! Here, I could recreate and expand on levels that I liked in the original game itself. And then my jaw dropped even further when I learned that I could also upload my levels and download levels created by other people to try. In fact, someone had already made and uploaded a “shooting” arcade-style survival game starring Luna.

Space FoundationIt made me wonder what else would be created if this game was given to a much larger audience, and I was very pleased to find out that “Luna’s Wandering Stars” is being featured at the Space Foundation Symposium later this week. I am certainly looking forward to seeing even more levels once more people start trying it out.

A week after our initial test run, my son was asking how gravity works. To help my son understand, I showed him a YouTube video of a professor using a spandex sheet to demonstrate what gravity fields look like. He watched as ball bearings made their little orbits on a warped surface representing “space-time.” Almost immediately, the lightbulbs in his head went off and he yelled, “That’s exactly like ‘Luna’s Wandering Stars’!” Suddenly, my nine-year-old son understood what the game was really all about: learning truths about science.

That’s what makes “Luna’s Wandering Stars” not just an excellent game with fun mechanics, a wicked sense of humor and a wide variety of levels and designs, but also a great educational experience.

Luna's IconLuna’s Wandering Stars was developed by Serenity Forge

IGTlogo-01$9.95 for not just a fun game, but for the lights going off in a curious child’s mind while learning about space and physics. It was worth infinitely more than the single CFL lightbulb I could get at the same price. (And less toxic for the environment!)

Luna’s Wandering Stars is Indie Gamer Team Approved.

About Indie Family Man
Paolo is a busy father of three kids: two boys (9 and 6 years old) and a prodigious little girl (1.5 years old). Outside his home life, Paolo is a professional software developer of over 14 years who has always loved games, but just started getting into indie game development at the request of his boys.

2 Responses to Luna’s Wandering Stars

  1. This looks like a neat game. I hope they get on Steam soon.

  2. Pingback: Game Review – Luna’s Wandering Stars - Game Diviner

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