It is hard to compress in one short review just how much Atomic Super Lander offers, basically because what it offers -the very deep and complex mechanics behind its premises- is very well hidden, it comes of as natural. The premise is simple: you are a regular, everyday, normal guy that is kidnapped by the government to be instructed and then sent, to deep space mind you, and destroy asteroids that could end with life in earth as we know it. Sounds bleak, serious and sordid, right? Well, take all that and put it in a bag of sardonic humor, because this game doesn’t take itself seriously.
Pretty much everything in Atomic Super Lander is a joke. In a previous draft of this review I wrote a very detailed explanation of the tutorial and why it was funny, but that would mean spoiling it all; for you, the dear reader, that just wouldn’t be fair. I will only say that it involves a self-proclaimed evil genius, a cuckoo president and the mention of the word monkey, a lot!
The gameplay, once you have learned the basics, takes place in space. Here is where everything get’s interesting. You are supposed to land on the asteroid -which can be hard since your spaceship takes damage and you have to maneuver through obstacles- , then you have to find the place in which to put the bomb -this while dodging spikes, aliens and crazy mutated lizard-man that bite off your life meter quite fast-, deploy the bomb by taking part in a Simon says kind of game, get back to your spaceship and get to your mother-ship, all of the above with a timer. Fail any of the steps and you are dead. The game gives you three guys to play with, meaning that if one dies in mission, or has to be sacrificed (more on that below), you can still complete the mission.
I will try to explain the mechanics of the game with a session that left me with a smile on my face, even though I lost: I landed my ship perfectly, found the place for the bomb and armed it, all with time to spare, so I decided to explore the asteroid, since there are things to find (plotnium, the game’s version of plutonium and boxes that hide power-ups). I found and destroyed a box that had a 32-lb bag in it, jumped and threw it into space, thought I would never see it again. Then I found a magic eight ball -yes, it says stuff-, I threw it, only to hear after that an explosion sound. Turns out the ball hit my spaceship and destroyed it. Okay, I can still destroy the asteroid, I just have to give up my guy (sacrifice him), he will never come back home. I kept exploring and, in a very fortuneless jump, the 32 lb bag I had thrown into space hit me right in the head, killing me, destroying planet earth and rendering over my face a game over. It turns out the bag had been flying around the orbit of the asteroid all the time. The bag killing my guy felt unexpected, and it was all my fault.
This is the kind of mechanics that Atomic Super Lander has, that don’t jump into your face, but that amaze when you discover them. I don’t want to get more into detail because I don’t want to spoil anything else if you ever get to play the game, which you absolutely should.
Aside from what I described, the game has a a variety of spaceships you can unlock and use. There is a machine slot mini-game at the end of the missions that give you guys, plotnium or gears (used to buy the other spaceships). You can also collect cards, which are situational, meaning they are granted if you do crazy stuff.
Overall, Atomic Super Lander is a great game, not recommended for those with low tolerance to failure. It is lengthy, entertaining and, above all, incredibly fun. More than justifies its price. There is no free-to play stuff, you get the game wholly and in all its glory. Full of references to pop-culture, especially the gaming culture.