Review: Lunark – The love letter the platform movie genre deserves

Review: Lunark – The love letter the platform movie genre deserves

Captured on Nintendo Switch (Connected)

Lunark sends players back to the retro future we all thought was the 1980s. Bring a world of flying cars and corrupt mega-corporations to life with vibrant pixel graphics and rotoscope animation. At its best, Lunark is an effective love letter to cinematic platforming, a genre of games that doesn’t get much attention these days. Every once in a while, though, it serves to remind us of how far game design has come.

Charging Lunark is like stepping into a time machine. Everything about the game, from the music to the plot to the overall aesthetic, is inspired by the platform movie genre. Unlike Mario, who can spin in the air to make physically impossible jumps easy, our hero Leo’s moves are based on certain aspects of reality. You have momentum and weight as you move through the caves, factories, and prisons you explore.

This design philosophy will be familiar to fans of the original. Prince of Persia game or even the strange world series, but it definitely takes some getting used to. There’s a sluggishness to Leo’s movements that will surprise modern players, especially in the way he spins or his inability to perform multiple jumps in quick succession. The only time it gets frustrating is the slight delay between pressing the jump button and when Leo actually leaves the ground, resulting in sticky jumps. There will be a lot of deaths that result from just Leo jumping off a cliff instead of jumping off at the last moment like you planned.

Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Offline)

In most games we’d attribute this to poor design, but with Lunark it’s all part of the cinematic platforming experience. Everything is designed to remind you of the 80s when games like this were more common. The imprecise controls are, in this case, a feature rather than a bug, and you shouldn’t let them put you off. It takes some getting used to, but once you do, the game is a fair but challenging platformer.

It’s not just the gameplay or even the graphics that took us back to our gaming roots. The plot is heavily inspired by classic sci-fi movies like full recovery oh Award-winning accommodation. Humanity has moved to a distant planet by adapting the entire moon into a deep space colony vessel. Leo works with a man named Gideon, who scours the grounds collecting artifacts to bring back for research. Of course, things aren’t exactly what they seem and soon Leo is on the run and must uncover the mystery behind why he’s being hunted in the first place.

There are roaming gangs of sword-wielding robots terrorizing neighborhoods, a totalitarian regime to overthrow, and a conspiracy on the moon to uncover. If it wasn’t so well executed, it would be too oppressive and too eighties. Developer Canari Games has managed to make Lunark a loving homage to the era without feeling like it’s overdoing it.

Lunark Review - Screenshot 3 of 4Captured on Nintendo Switch (Connected)

For example, some of the storytelling here is surprisingly subtle. Engaging in some optional conversations early in the game will reveal that there is something unusual about Leo. Not only does he have enhanced physical abilities and a connection to the planet that others lack, but he also experiences rapid aging. Everyone seems to agree that it won’t be long in this world before the player finds out why.

Lunark’s pixel graphics do a good job of bringing the various characters to life. Even with the minimalist aesthetic, you’ll instantly recognize the various enemies and NPCs that populate this world. Everything looks better in handheld mode, however, as stretching them across our TV stretches the pixels farther than they should. Fortunately, the music and graphics are perfectly effective in setting the scene the developers hope to create.

If we have one complaint, it’s how inconsistent the respawn points are. Early levels seem to have them more frequently, while later levels will have you replaying long sections of platforming over and over as you try to figure out the pattern of one of the boss fights. The level of the train, for example, was particularly bad in this respect. When one poorly timed jump can kill you, having to repeat the entire long section was brutal.

Lunark Review - Screenshot 4 of 4Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Offline)

All environments explored by Leo are governed by the same rules, but there is a clear progression in difficulty. He’ll jump up and down ledges and gaps, whether he’s on a runaway train or an ancient cave system. Lunark does a good job of slowly giving you a trickle of different mechanics as you progress, with each level building on the previous ones to increase the difficulty. Some are time- or speed-based, while others focus on stealth aspects. The result is a game that never feels outdated from start to finish.

Cinematic platformers won’t be for everyone, and that’s okay. Those who want a shameless retro challenge will find a lot to like in Lunark. The story pays homage to some of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time, while the gameplay adds a new twist with each level you complete. Retro graphics look great on the Switch, especially in handheld mode. Once you figure out the sticky jumps and the weight Leo carries with him when he moves, you’re ready for a solid adventure to the moon and back.


Even our small frustrations with Lunark can’t overshadow the joy we felt playing this shameless retro platformer. It’s a skillfully and lovingly crafted tribute to an often overlooked genre of games. Even Leo’s imprecise controls and slow movements feel like a feature rather than a bug in the game’s design. If you can figure them out, there’s a solid platformer to enjoy.

Brent Dubin
Brent Dubin, known as the Gaming Giant among Globe Live Media staff, is the chief Gaming Reporter for Globe Live Media. Having attended all the major events of Gaming around the World, he is sure to give you exactly the update related to gaming world you are looking for.Work Email: