Up until now I’ve been pretty one sided about Donut Games’ line of software, and with good reason. They are certainly one of the most consistently good developers on the iPhone market today. For any developer that turns out as many games as they have, however, there’s bound to be one or two that don’t grip me like the majority. Comet Racer is one of those. It’s not a bad game, necessarily, it just doesn’t have the same spark I feel with most Donut Games games.
Basically, you have to navigate a ship through several deviously routed tunnel systems without hitting or getting hit by anything. You have a maximum amount of time you can spend on each level, and if you can make it within that time you’ll earn at least one star. You can get two or three stars if you’re even quicker about it. So far I think I’ve gotten more than one star only once. Along the way you’ll pick up shields to temporarily dampen a blow, you’ll hit accelerator pads that give you a temporary boost of speed, and you’ll run into bombs that blow up inopportune doors. On the down side, you have to stay away from the walls. Also, on some levels missiles will try and take you down.
To control the ship you have an accelerate button and two buttons for rotating the craft left and right. To slow down you just let go of the accelerate button. There is no stop. Personally, I’m a little too fidgety to be very good at this game. Anyway, there’s a mini-map in the upper right corner so you know where to go, and if you’ve played the level at least once there will be a ghost image of your ship showing you what you did in the last run through. You start a level with three lives, and each time you hit something or get hit by something when you don’t have a shield you lose a life. You are then invulnerable for a second or two. If you lose all of your lives or you don’t beat the highest allotted time for the level, you have to retry it. You can only move on to the next level once you’ve beaten the current level at least once, though you’re always welcome to revisit a level to try and earn a better score. Oddly, this is the first game of theirs with this formula where I don’t feel compelled to play a level again once I’ve beaten it.
The graphics sort of make me feel like I’m playing a Donut Games game, but even they aren’t up to the usual standards. The space ship looks kind of cool and the flame trail isn’t bad. Even the background is okay (though I’m always a sucker for deep space star planet type images), but there’s this Flintstones feeling of repetitiveness as you see the same couple of planets over and over. The sound effects aren’t bad, except for the sound of your ship, which actually gets a bit annoying after a while. And where’s the music? That’s one of the things I’ve come to love the most about Donut Games products.
If you like the whole “dodge the cave walls” style of game play, you might get a kick out of this. For me it’s not that interesting of a game play mechanic, and I was hoping that Donut Games would do their usual job of sprucing up a ho-hum concept. Sadly, they really didn’t. With all the other wonderful offerings Donut Games has, I really have a hard time recommending this one.