Developer: Aubrey Falconer
Price: $2.99 Download on the App Store
Mars Explorer - A human journey to Mars still may be many years into the future. But a new app wants to put you in the control while cruising around the Red Planet on your iPhone/iPod Touch.
The game is Mars Explorer, and while it has a good concept is still lacking in the execution of some details. Mars Explorer begins by choosing one of two surfaces to explore —Freestyle and Mons. Both offer different elevations, hills to climb, and terrain to explore. Hold the iPhone horizontally to control the rover, then tilt forward for acceleration and left or right to move in either direction. The controls are a bit clunky and not as responsive compared to some other games that make stronger use of the accelerometer. The graphics of the terrain are also less than impressive.
The options menu allows a wide variety of customization to tailor your Mars exploration experience to your liking. This also fortunately applies to the music, which is quite awful — even considering that most apps already have bad musical taste. In Mars Explorer, apparently a banjo player lives on Mars and serenades your journey.
The only vehicle currently offered is the buggy, but at a certain point it can be converted to a hovercraft by tapping a green button on the upper right part of the screen. The hovercraft will then sprout wings and fly above the faux Martian surface.
In Mars Explorer there are three different camera angles to choose from when driving the rover. The default camera is located behind the vehicle and gives a standard video-game like view. The ride camera gives a view from inside the cockpit. During gameplay tapping a camera icon on the bottom right part of the screen leaves the camera stationary and allows driving off into the distance.
Mars Explorer shows some promise, as a small community has developed on the Mars Explorer web site offering new content and comments. The developer has also posted a series of upcoming features to strengthen the app. By tightening up some of the glitches Mars Explorer may be worthy of a download in the future — just not at this point.