In Ion Racer, your task is simple: your high-tech flying racing thing speeds through spacey Tron-ish tunnels of destiny, in which there are – gasp – colored barriers. You must destroy the blue barriers, particularly the ones that grant you power-ups for your shields, whilst avoiding the red barriers. Remember that: don’t hit the red ones. Red is Bad.
Here’s the official game trailer:
There’s a “Focus” mode that slows things down, and a “Strike” mode that speeds things up. The better you do, the more points you get, and points means upgrades for your ship. You know all this stuff, you’ve heard it a thousand times before.
Ion Racer (priced at a dollar) looks pretty enough, but the main problem is lack of variety. Once you’ve screamed down one endless brightly-lit future-tunnel at who-knows-how-many miles per hour, you’ve screamed down them all. You might be able to customize your ship, and the layout of the colored gates varies and gets more complicated to fly through, but your surroundings remain stubbornly familiar.
What’s more, the point of racing games is that you’re navigating along a course of some kind. The course has twists and turns and leaps and jumps – you know, surprises. Ion Racer’s greatest drawback is that the courses aren’t really courses at all. You’re not really steering, because if the course ahead veers to the left and you do nothing at all, your ship will veer left with it. Your job is simply changing lanes, shifting left and right within the confines of the pre-determined track, aiming for (or avoiding) those useful (or pesky) colored barriers.
This, along with the tedium of tracks that all look the same, makes things dull. Mid-game, I found myself thinking about other things – like work deadlines, what I might cook the family for supper, and whether or not to buy a new iMac. I might have been playing the game, but I wasn’t actually playing the game.
Pro: I’ll get back to you.