"Maybe if I occupy his mind with more duties, I can control his SPACE MADNESS."

I hate this game. More precisely, I hate games like this one.

You see, I play games to relax. I play games to feel smart, to feel a false sense of power, or to have a story told to me that makes me feel I’ve learned something. And mostly I play games to feel that my leisure time has not been wasted. Lunar Lander Beyond is based around the premise that frustration and failure are valid recreational activities.

I reject this idea. Utterly.

The central notion of the game is that you are in charge of a spaceship that must navigate various 2D space landscapes, collecting power-ups, refueling and repairing your ship, and achieving whatever other arbitrary objectives the game throws in your way.

You have several enemies, such as time trials, running out of fuel, and touching any other freaking object in the known universe (which will damage or destroy your ship). The two big enemies, however, are interia (your ship will continue moving in whatever direction you thrust until you try—and fail—to reverse the course) and gravity (even if you are in deep space, you will be pulled “down”). One of the early power-ups you collect will allow you to stabilize your ship, but only at the cost of fuel.

It’s like…imagine if you played Pac-Man, but the walls were electrified, so that if you ran into a corner, you didn’t just stop, but exploded at every instant.

Lunar Lander Beyond attempts to add in an experience system where you can modify your ship via pilot experience and the ability to upgrade the system, but these are LIES. The entire game is based around the idea that you are going to fail and fail again until you finally agree that failing is fun and that you are smart because you enjoy failing.

I urge you to reject this premise.

You are the player. The games exist for you, not the other way around. You are the person paying money for these games. Just because a game is listed as “retro” and a “reimagining” doesn’t mean that you need to accept the idea that you need to devote any amount of your time to “solving” the simple problem of a game that is masochistically difficult. You are a beautiful, valuable person. You deserve better than a game that will treat you like dirt just because you have a Nintendo Switch and 30 minutes to spare. There are multiple difficulty settings, but they do little to mitigate the pain.

That said, Lunar Lander Beyond does have its bright spots. It performs wonderfully on the Swtich in both docked and handheld mode. In terms of design, the game looks good; the ship and level designs have a cute, retro feel. There’s a genuine effort to make the game feel like a modern reboot while keeping retro elements like clean level design, with lots of colors. It also makes some surprisingly inventive design choices that may keep pushing you to see what’s next.

Perhaps more importantly, the between-mission commentary with your AI and other pilots uses humor to underline how insanely difficult the world of this game is, with the absurdly low percentages of pilots who manage to survive and have any kind of career. Lunar Lander Beyond knows it’s difficult, and it wants to taunt you into rising to the challenge.

I get that there are people who look forward to incredibly difficult, repetitive games, and who have the mental acuity and physical reflexes to handle them. I am not one of them. If you are, have at it.