Space Cycler

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Space Cycler App Poster Image
Simple shooter has frustrating controls, no help.

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The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, but challenging to use, especially in multiplayer. There's no tutorial and no explanation of power-ups or upgrades. 


The game centers around shooting incoming aliens before they can attack you, but no blood or gore's shown.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Space Cycler is a rail shooter game for iOS devices with a multiplayer option. The entire experience involves shooting alien creatures before they reach your ship. Controls are incredibly simple -- players press and move their finger along a slider to shoot and move around -- but because the guns rotate around a tunnel and the slider is straight, kids might find it frustrating to control. This is especially true in multiplayer co-op where one player can effectively block another from moving to safety. There's no tutorial or help, so understanding power-ups and upgrades is a matter of trial and error. The multiplayer option involves two users sharing one device, which can be challenging, but does help minimize sibling battles over play time.

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What's it about?

SPACE CYCLER enlists players to help battle alien forces. To do so, gamers rotate their ship around a circular tunnel shooting at incoming attacks.  The controls are quite simple -- pressing on the screen shoots and sliding a finger back and forth rotates the ship around the tunnel. Space Cycler is a rail shooter, so there's little navigation required, because the ships move forward along a predetermined path. As players progress, they unlock additional types of ships/weaponry (4 in total). There are a variety of power-ups and upgrades that appear as gamers fly through the tunnel and they will need to place themselves properly to catch them. Multiplayer adds another ship to the mix and the two crafts will collide with and bounce off each other as they careen through the tunnel. 

Is it any good?

There's chaotic entertainment value in this shooter, but the visually confusing controls and lack of tutorial or help may sap all the fun. Space Cycler is a nod to arcade games of the past, but it brings along some of the challenges they faced as well. The biggest issue is that there's a straight slider to control circular ship movement. It creates a visual disconnect that results in players sliding their fingers all over the screen and often right off the control area. This is compounded in multiplayer where they can actually take control over each other's ships entirely by accident.

The levels feel long and there's no way to save mid-level. For a casual game, that's a challenge as it limits some of the pick-up play you'd expect in the genre. And lastly, there's no description of the power-ups and upgrades. Long-time gamers will likely be able to guess at some of them, but without some trial and error, they may just remain a mystery. Despite the drawbacks, it's great to have a two-player game that can be enjoyed on a shared device and the lack of in-app purchases is refreshing. Space Cycler has potential, but it needs a bit more polish to hit the mark.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about cooperative games. What are the things you like about cooperative gaming? What do you dislike? What are some tips for how teammates can work together?

  • How do you like this app in comparison with other apps you could play? As you balance your time on- and off-screen, would this be an app you'd choose to use? Why or why not?

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

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