The "cave-flyer" is a unique genre of games that MobyGames well describes as follows.

A so-called cave-flyer takes the 360° control method from the venerable Asteroids, adds gravitation and/or inertia, and puts your ship in a landscape with more obstacles than enemies. The most classic example of the genre is Thrust.

Games of the sort have translated particularly well to mobile devices, thanks to their touchscreen controls (be it finger or stylus).  The iPhone and iPod touch take the genre to a whole new level with accelerometer control that is the natural ideal control method for these gravity-based games.

Big Head Games, as promised, has released what is currently the best cave-flyer available in the App Store: Retro [link].

As the story goes, the humans and their reckless experiments have botched things up and put the sun on a fast-track to supernova.  Unfortunately, scientists are trapped in deep science stations carved into the rock of various moons of the planets of our solar system.  And they must be rescued before the sun begins its catastrophic exodus.

Gameplay involves tilting the iPhone left and right to control the pitch of the rescue craft and touching the screen to activate upward thrusters.  The controls are sensitive and allow the skilled pilot to navigate rather treacherous subterranean mazes of rock in a race against the clock, as the demo video illustrates (though a sensitivity settings feature would have been nice).

The game features 23 levels and provides a futuristic soundtrack for those that wish to hear it (it is by default off).

Any fan of the cave-flyer genre will appreciate the challenge and polish that Retro brings to the iPhone. Be warned though--patience and precision are most definitely required.


[ Full HD version | Low Bandwidth version ]

Game Details
Name: Retro (v1.0) Price: $4.99 [Buy]
Developer: Big Head Games Size: 25.0 MB
Device: Tested on iPhone 3G
Retro is the best cave-flyer available in the App Store at present.  It's accelerometer-controlled Lunar Lander on steroids.  Also a polished good time.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Orion3G

    Awesome, Lunar Lander!!!

    That was my FAVORITE vector game back when.. I wish someone would port the original, I havent played it in forever and would be a perfect fit for the iPhone.

  • Orion3G

    Awesome, Lunar Lander!!!

    That was my FAVORITE vector game back when.. I wish someone would port the original, I havent played it in forever and would be a perfect fit for the iPhone.

  • http://www.kotodama.net/blog Zak

    Game SUCKS.

    Great visuals, great music, great play. Why does it suck? On normal mode (as opposed to hard), I can't get past only the third stage because of the INCREDIBLY SHORT time limit. Basically, the controls are incredibly subtle require a fine touch. Even so, if you screw up even a tiny bit you might as well quit, because you won't make the draconian time limit. First screw-up on very touchy and iffy controls = game over = sucky game.

    Developers, have a heart for people who don't actually play this game all day every day like you do and create an Easy mode. Until they do, I won't bother playing again, despite what should be great gameplay. Too bad.

  • http://www.kotodama.net/blog Zak

    Game SUCKS.

    Great visuals, great music, great play. Why does it suck? On normal mode (as opposed to hard), I can't get past only the third stage because of the INCREDIBLY SHORT time limit. Basically, the controls are incredibly subtle require a fine touch. Even so, if you screw up even a tiny bit you might as well quit, because you won't make the draconian time limit. First screw-up on very touchy and iffy controls = game over = sucky game.

    Developers, have a heart for people who don't actually play this game all day every day like you do and create an Easy mode. Until they do, I won't bother playing again, despite what should be great gameplay. Too bad.

  • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

    @Zak: The 3rd level was the first that I had to try a few times because I ran out of time a few times. But about two hours or so after I started the game I was on level 8. The timer adds to the challenge. On the other hand, the game is more forgiving than many cave-flyers in that you have a shield that replenishes, allowing you to contact the walls without instantly blowing up.

    I actually find the shield system a little too helpful. I'd prefer destruction on contact with any surface.

  • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

    @Zak: The 3rd level was the first that I had to try a few times because I ran out of time a few times. But about two hours or so after I started the game I was on level 8. The timer adds to the challenge. On the other hand, the game is more forgiving than many cave-flyers in that you have a shield that replenishes, allowing you to contact the walls without instantly blowing up.

    I actually find the shield system a little too helpful. I'd prefer destruction on contact with any surface.

  • Orion3G

    yea.. like Lunar Lander.

  • Orion3G

    yea.. like Lunar Lander.

  • WhySoSerious

    Boooooooooooooooring..........

  • WhySoSerious

    Boooooooooooooooring..........

  • http://www.kotodama.net/blog Zak

    Update: After practicing 20-30 times, I finally, barely, passed level 3. Level 4 was easy, and Level 5 looks to be just as hard or even harder than 3. At this point it's just not even fun, so I don't think I'll play anymore unless they come up with an easy mode. It's just no fun. A pity, really.

  • http://www.kotodama.net/blog Zak

    Update: After practicing 20-30 times, I finally, barely, passed level 3. Level 4 was easy, and Level 5 looks to be just as hard or even harder than 3. At this point it's just not even fun, so I don't think I'll play anymore unless they come up with an easy mode. It's just no fun. A pity, really.

  • http://rosetta.null-zero.com siegfried

    hmmm what's the point buying game you can finish in 4h without putting any effort in it?

  • http://rosetta.null-zero.com siegfried

    hmmm what's the point buying game you can finish in 4h without putting any effort in it?

  • Fat Phil

    This game rocks!

    Much better than Dropship for me (I know I know going against the flow - I just couldn't get my hands around it's controls :/ ), and more like Thrust and Oids (yes!), tho be nice to see some of Thrust's crate-lifting.

    It gets pretty hard early on, but at least it has some great satisfaction when you beat a level, where Dropship just make my hands hurt. The level designs are pretty cool too.

    Good stuff.

  • Fat Phil

    This game rocks!

    Much better than Dropship for me (I know I know going against the flow - I just couldn't get my hands around it's controls :/ ), and more like Thrust and Oids (yes!), tho be nice to see some of Thrust's crate-lifting.

    It gets pretty hard early on, but at least it has some great satisfaction when you beat a level, where Dropship just make my hands hurt. The level designs are pretty cool too.

    Good stuff.

  • Dogtodog

    I've just been told that a new version has been submitted to the app store with more time/easier gameplay on normal...great stuff as I'm stuck on level 11.

  • Dogtodog

    I've just been told that a new version has been submitted to the app store with more time/easier gameplay on normal...great stuff as I'm stuck on level 11.

  • http://www.kotodama.net/blog Zak

    The new version is much more playable! Thanks, Retro guys.

  • http://www.kotodama.net/blog Zak

    The new version is much more playable! Thanks, Retro guys.