Play Space Explorer with 'Voyager: Grand Tour' iOS Game
With "Voyager: Grand Tour," you're able to learn about the solar system while playing a skillful puzzle game.
CREDIT: Kevin Tarchenski
"Voyager: Grand Tour" is more than another iOS game. It's an interplanetary challenge based on the real physics of launching missions throughout the solar system.
Available starting today (June 19), free of charge (with options for in-game purchases), "Voyager" provides a fun, skillful challenge as it launches probes to explore planets while teaching you a thing or two about the universe. It's the perfect combination of education and entertainment, without hitting you hard in the wallet.
In the game, you launch Voyager probes from Earth, using a trajectory launching system not unlike that in the "Angry Birds" games (especially "Angry Birds: Space"). The further back you draw the probe, the further it flies out. The goal is to get the Voyager probe close enough to scan the target planet within the minimum allotted time without missing it completely or, worse yet, crashing head-on into it. (You'll need to aim properly before launching it, as you can't tweak anything once it's flying.)
When launching the probe, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind. Each planet has a set of three zones surrounding it, and the gravitational pull becomes stronger as you fly into each one. However, the closer you get, the higher your score becomes, and the better chance you have of achieving bronze, silver and gold "moon medals" for each stage. The game challenges you with planets throughout the solar system, ranging from the massive Jupiter to the ringed Saturn to former planet Pluto, each based on their actual planetary mechanics.
You'll learn a bit about these planets as you play on, and you'll be treated to a recreation of a planetary flyby at the end of each round. It's spectacular to see, especially if you're a fan of astronomy.
When creating the game, Tarchenski didn't hold back. "My inspiration was pretty much my love and obsession with space, and my desire to make mobile games that I'd actually want to play," he said, adding that the Voyagers 1 and 2 probes were his favorites. [See also: 5 Facts About NASA's Far-Flung Voyager Spacecraft]
"I tried to blend detailed 3D graphics and realistic rocket science with casual, friendly controls and design in the hope that space fans who maybe weren't big gamers would still be able to enjoy it, and that gamers might become interested and inspired to learn more about space," Tarchenski said.
Tarchenski also didn't want to hammer the education point of the game too hard. "Part of that was a conscious decision to not throw complex terminology at players," he said. "In the course of the game, you'll figure out how to slingshot around planets, perform orbital insertions and transfers, and even do a gravitational tugboat maneuver — all through experimentation and puzzle-solving, not lectures."
The in-app purchases are optional, but for just a couple bucks a pop, you can unlock a second wave of more challenging levels, the "Deep Space Network Mission Pack," (all within our solar system) as well as additional probes, including the Cassini-Huygens probe to Saturn and the New Horizons mission, due to reach Pluto in 2015. "Voyager: Grand Tour" also supports online leaderboards, free of charge, so you can challenge fellow probe-slingers to beat your best score.
And relax: If you damage a probe (and you will), you won't have to worry about footing a multimillion-dollar bill.
"Voyager: Grand Tour" is available for the iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone.