CRmainAs a big fan of time trial games, I took immediate interest in Comet Racer [App Store], the newest release from Donut Games. Comet Racer has you piloting a small craft through the mazelike interiors of comets in a mission to complete each of its 25 different levels in as few seconds as possible. With a unique global leaderboard system and a great physics engine, this is a game that fans of other recently released time trial games like Hook Champ or Jet Car Stunts will enjoy.

Each level in Comet Racer opens with the unveiling of your ship on a launch pad, and an old-school traffic light slides in from the left to give a three second launch countdown. Using a thruster button on the right side of the screen and the two left/right directional buttons on the left, controlling your ships around hairpin turns and through slim corridors is an easily-acquired skill. Crashing into a wall will cost you one of your "lives" (displayed in the form of tiny spaceships at the top left corner of the screen) and cause a significant drop in speed, making it more difficult to finish the level under the given qualification time.

CR1

I normally don't like games that require players to unlock all of its levels by beating every level in order (as this can cause players to get stuck on one particular level and become frustrated) but I feel that it's not a real issue in Comet Racer since players will rarely have much difficulty finishing levels. The game is tuned so that levels aren't difficult to complete, but so that it's challenging for players to attain a three-star ranking (the highest possible ranking).

CR2Comet Racer uses a fairly unique leaderboard system that I particularly enjoyed. Instead of setting a separate leaderboard for each level, the game combines all your track times into one total score, where each hundredth of a second that you beat the qualification time by is worth 1 point. For example, if a certain track has a qualification time of 20 seconds, and you finish it in 19.50 seconds, you'll be awarded with 50 points. Naturally, it'll only be possible to max out your potential score once you've unlocked all the tracks, but the real focus of the game is going back through and improving just marginally on your times in each level. To aid with this visually, the game even keeps a "ghost" version of your best time in each level that you can race against later.

As you unlock more levels, you'll begin to encounter more and more unique obstacles and pickups that give some needed variety to the tracks. You'll encounter boost pads, temporary shields, dangrous tracking missles, and walls that must be opened by running over nearby switches. One of my few complaints with the game is that the missiles almost never pose any sort of threat, and will usually be avoided with ease. Even if you fail to avoid the missiles, shield pickups are so common that the useless missiles will bounce right off of you.

I love the way the global leaderboards for this game work, and I will soon start up a major effort to make my way to the top of the boards. Comet Racer is easy to get into and fun to try to master. It's one of those games that can draw you in for hours at a time for the simple chance to improve your high score, and yet it can be picked up and put down in two minutes, a quality shared by the best of iPhone games.

App Store Link: Comet Racer, 99¢

TouchArcade Rating

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  • sandwich

    This looks like solar jetman on the nes. Anyone tried this out yet?

  • Steve H

    This is an instant buy for me. I've really been impressed by donut games I've bought most everything they've put out. The games have very old school appeal for 80s kids like me. The last one, jungle crash landing, was really fun. Sorry to sound like a commercial but they are an example of why the iPhone game scene is so good.

    • Steve H

      99c later. It's fun. Sounds effects make me laugh. I'd liken it to RC Pro Am. Gives you a ghost of your last run which is nice.

  • DaverJ

    Based on the review, SOLD.

    This is why I like coming to TA - I would have passed by this game, but reading Ryan's review and taking a look at the screenshots and video shows me this game is something I can really get into.

    Thanks for finding these gems for us!

    • Ryan Rigney

      Absolutely no problem, DaverJ. It's comments like that one that make my day better and motivate me to keep scrounging for hidden gems to review :)

      • DaverJ

        Follow-up... Game bought - this is great example of an iPhone/Touch game - simple design, attractive, and easy to play for a minute, 2 minutes or an hour. I especially like the bubbly "Jetsons" sound of the rocket. :) Oh, and the leaderboard is encouragement to go for the 3-star ratings for each course.

        Speaking of leaderboards: I'm baffled why there there's not more people ranked??? But I can't complain too much because it gives me a chance to work toward Ryan's #1 position! ;)

    • Alex

      I agree. This is one of the few sites I check daily for updates and I like your reviews partly because you have a similar taste in games as I do, but mostly because you take care and put quality into your posts (unlike highly advertised sites such as iPhone Games Network and Slide to Play). I have been coming here since your first post and plan on staying. Great work, tremendous.

      • Ryan Rigney

        Part of the credit for the quality of my posts goes to my editors (Eli Hodapp and Arnold Kim) but yeah, I do always put my best effort into my work. I'm glad that you're a fan and I only hope that we can keep providing content that interests you :)

    • Steve H

      Toucharcade is my breakfast cereal reading. I enjoy a good pithy dense multimedia packed article like this so I don't have to click around mid-shredded wheat and risk soggy shreaded wheat. :)

  • MrMuesli

    Mmmm, Do...Nuts: ) My favorite is Bricks of Camelot (which is their most pricey too) but this may sit in a comfortable place second for me: )

    • MrMuesli

      apologies for the 'Yoda' speak: / I meant to say 'comfortable second place'. Time for bed me thinks...

  • Adams Immersive

    I like the 3-star award system in all their games (at least the ones I’ve played). I have little hope of making 3 stars on every level, but I have fun trying for 2!

  • kayne

    this looks GREAT

    some of my favourite games are Donut Games' games. As they have got Spikey, Lucky Coins, Cows in Space and Rat on the Run for free off them - the least I can do is support them by buying this!
    It looks fun too :D

  • Ryan Rigney

    With 24,500 points as my total score, I'm now king of the global leaderboards! I have three-starred every level in the game. WHO CAN CHALLENGE ME!?!

  • rich_952000

    There has not been a Donut Games release yet that has disappointed me. After you give Comet Racer a go, check out some of DG other titles a try. They are all just as fun, polishes and addictive.

  • http://monteboyd.com/sloperider/ Monte Boyd

    I love Donut Games artwork, and I think this is their most fun game to date. I haven't played it much yet but it has me hooked.

    • rich_952000

      See? That's why I like you Monte ;) Always quick to credit another dev for their work. Don't forget to check out Monte's game Slope Rider.

      • http://monteboyd.com/sloperider/ Monte Boyd

        Cheers Rich! I'm always happy to support fellow small developers, especially when they're as talented as Donut Games!

  • http://klicktock.com Matthew

    Love Donut Games also. Funny thing is I don't think I'd ever visited any of the high score tables on their other games, coz it's always "hidden" in the options menu.
    Their leaderboard system is really cool, I think they should change their UI and promote their high scores a bit more.

  • starmonkey101

    great review again, ryan. picked this up upon your recommendation and love it!