Luna's Wandering Stars

Game review by
Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Media
Luna's Wandering Stars Game Poster Image
Gravity-powered astronomy game fun, teaches physics.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about angular momentum, Newton's laws, and how mass affects gravity in this astrophysics-based game. Even those without any experience playing physics games will learn, through simple trial and error, how moons and asteroids move when close to a massive object. They will get to practice applying Newton's Third Law while trying to maneuver a moon around a planet or through asteroid fields. Each planet level gives a deeper challenge that teaches kids something new. Luna's Wandering Stars teaches physics concepts in a fun manner that's out of this world.

Positive Messages

Snarky chatter may seem discouraging but is meant to be in good fun. No penalties for trying or retrying a level encourages kids to keep going.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No role models; players take on the role of a planet crashing space objects to gain mass.

Ease of Play

Simple controls; easy to learn; but ramp-up in difficulty could frustrate younger players.

Violence

Players likely will crash their moon into a planet, causing a small explosion.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Luna's Wandering Stars is a downloadable physics-based game where players take on the role of a moon attempting to gain mass. Though the controls and gameplay are simple to understand, it increases in difficulty as the levels go up. Fortunately there are unlimited chances to clear a level, but the more difficult levels can be frustrating to younger or less patient kids. The snarky communication-link chatter adds to the fun, but if your kids don't understand sarcasm or this particular type of humor, it may be off-putting. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content. The game is surprisingly deep with its use and manipulation of physics, so the play (and the learning) can last for many hours.

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What's it about?

In LUNA'S WANDERING STARS, you're Luna, a moon that ends up near each of the nine planets (including Pluto). Your job is to clear each level by orbiting the planet and hitting enough asteroids to gain their mass while moving around by using physics, momentum, gravity, rocket boosts, and more. You're also supposed to collide with as many gold asteroids as possible, but it's often technically possible to clear the level without that being the primary goal. Each planet has special challenges, tools to use, and additional obstacles to overcome. These include utilizing gravity and velocity, firing rockets and lasers, moving space objects and planets, changing density, and even making wormholes and black holes. Kids will use their knowledge of astrophysics to complete levels, but not to worry: The game teaches them everything they need to know about Newton's Laws, mass, and angular momentum as they play.

Is it any good?

This visually beautiful game will pull players in right away. The beginning Mercury levels all have the same kind of challenge (using gravity to swing around the planet and hit asteroids to gain their mass) and are relatively easy, so gamers can learn the basics of the game without worrying about complicated mechanics right off the bat. It's fun to be able to control and maneuver a moon in space, but easily frustrated kids may not enjoy the higher levels of the other planets because of the number of times they may have to attempt each level; with each new level, the difficulty ramps up, goals are harder to reach, and trial and error is pretty much required. Even with that said, the game mechanics are simple and easy to use, and the large number of levels helps this game last for a long time, providing loads of replayability. Gamers who love to solve science-based puzzles and trying to improve on previous performance will enjoy Luna's Wandering Stars.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the history of the space program. How did rockets and the space shuttle make it to orbit? What does it mean to be in orbit around a planet instead of crashing into the planet or going off into space?

  • Learn more about satellites of all kinds. Why are natural and man-made satellites important to track as they move through space?

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For kids who love science

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