Well, what we have here is one of those floaty gravity games, sort of like that Thrust thing except it's got more gravity, maze like areas to explore and you don't actually drag anything behind you because you pick it up instead, but apart from that, it's exactly the same. Just like that other game though, the way to survive is by gentle taps, keeping everything stable and under control, which takes a fair bit of practise because the controls are so sensitive and gravity is so effective that you barely get any time to correct your mistake if you turn that little bit too far. Most of the time you'll spend inching across the screen, carefully threading the needle of some of the most claustrophobic levels around. If, however, you get tired of slowly crawling carefully through the levels and give a good firm manly press on your controls, you'll end up careering into the rather odd assortment of walls littered about the place, and possibly a few choice words might be said too.
Once you get past the initial hurdles of the controls though, it's great, nerve-racking fun. It's got that wonderful one-more-try factor and while the learning curve is very, very steep, you always get just a bit further each time, enticing you to see what's around the corner. Unfortunately though, there aren't too many corners or levels. It takes a more than a few goes to actually get past the fourth and final level though, but when you finally do, you get told to play again with more gravity. This is the worst part of the whole design, the passwords are the same so there's no way of starting in the harder gravity levels and it just seems like a cheap and dirty way of extending the game.
In case I haven't mentioned it enough, the force of gravity is really really strong, brutally so in fact. The turrets that are scattered about the levels are pretty poor shots and since they can only shoot at a few angles it's simply easier to avoid them and their slow, predictable bullets, than it is to take them out. This is made worse since only the small white bit at the top is vulnerable and if you try, you learn that keeping your craft stable, turning sideways and hit the tiny little area which will actually destroy the stupid thing is extremely difficult, in some cases it's almost impossible to do so without losing a life. Forget about shooting anything at all once you've looped it once though, there just isn't enough time.
There is very little in Lunaris to complain about. The music is nice, it's a good little tune, even if it gets very repetitive, very quickly. The collision is amazing, you never get cheated near the walls, although you do have to aim pretty carefully on the turrets. The graphics are functional, they're a bit bland at times but they're varied and clean. But, while the game is great fun, there is nothing to make you take risks, try stunts, (apart from the fact that once you've picked up the last orb you can career into the landscape and explode with no loss of life whatsoever) and generally whizz about.
It would be nice if you were rewarded for clearing a level fast, something to add a bit more challenge once you've gone through it. It's still great breakdown-inspiring fun though, and if you'll excuse me I'm off to try and loop it twice.
Editor's note: at the time this review was written, Lunaris was available for free download via Jonathan Cauldwell's website - since then it's been added to Retro-Soft's catalogue and is now commercial, but the reviewers felt that because of the small price asked, their original comments and scores should stand.