There’s nothing that gamers love more than subdividing the gaming community. Hardcore vs. casual. PC vs. console. Retro vs. modern. But the contemporary marketplace is no longer that easy to parse (and likely never was, to begin with).
For any of those in-between gamers—especially GeekDads who can’t enjoy the hobby as much as they would like due to various other obligations—cloud gaming platforms are a nice alternative. They offer a lot in the way of variety and are available on the devices we already use every day. Best of all, they tend to be more affordable than maintaining a high-end gaming PC or plunking down a cool $60 every time you want to add another title to your library.
I previously had a pretty enjoyable experience with Google’s Stadia, but I was eventually turned off by its reliance on the Chromecast, which is not my family’s streaming device of choice. We’re a Fire TV family, so when I got an offer to check out Amazon’s Luna cloud service, it already seemed like a good fit.
Like other cloud platforms, Luna gaming is available (practically) everywhere—PC, Mac, Fire TV, Fire tablets, Chromebook, iPhone, iPad, and Android. If you have more than one of these, your games and progress move easily from one to another by connecting to your Amazon account.
The games in question are collected into six different channels, so you only need to pay for the content that interests you most. Subscription prices vary from $4.99-$17.99 per month.
At the high end of that is Ubisoft+, a channel primarily devoted to AAA properties like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Watchdogs, and the various Tom Clancy franchises. This is supplemented by digital tabletop games (Uno — Ultimate Edition, Monopoly Plus, Monopoly Madness), notable remakes (Beyond Good & Evil, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game — Complete Edition), and some interesting outliers like Child of Light and Starlink: Battle for Atlas.
On the more economical side, you’ll find the Family Channel ($5.99/month), the home of ample cartoon spinoffs (Garfield Kart: Furious Racing, SpongeBob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom Rehydrated, Transformers Battleground, Spirit: Lucky’s Big Adventure) as well as additional lighthearted fare like Skatebird and Bee Simulator. Whereas $4.99 monthly can get you access to the Jackbox Games Channel (featuring You Don’t Know Jack and Drawful titles) or the Retro Channel, which runs the gamut from Pong and Centipede to Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair to Bionic Commando and the Mega Man Legacy Collection.
For my review period, Amazon treated me to a subscription to their mid-tier $9.99/month Luna+ Channel. This content collection is sort of the gold standard for the service, and it really seems to deliver the most bang for your buck, with some 123 games included at the time of this writing.
I was pleased to see some old favorites—especially Saints Row the Third Remastered, which is my longtime guilty pleasure—alongside more recent titles I simply hadn’t yet had the chance to experience. Chief among the latter is Resident Evil Biohazard, which played flawlessly on my Fire TV Stick 4K Max. I also put in some time with throwback brawler River City Girls, fast-paced first-person platformer Ghostrunner, and the more leisurely Super Monkey Ball: Banana Mania, none of which demonstrated any noticeable slowdown. (I even managed to get in a few rounds of Moving Out on my Fire HD 8 while my kids were catching up on their weekend YouTube viewing on the Fire TV Stick.)
Those of you keeping count may have noticed that I’ve only outlined five of the six channel subscriptions. That’s because the final channel, Prime Gaming, is absolutely free to Amazon Prime members! This rotating selection of titles currently includes Far Cry 4: Gold Edition, BloodRayne II: Terminal Cut, Lumines Remastered, Beach Buggy Racing 2: Hot Wheels Edition, and the aforementioned Moving Out. While it’s hard to anticipate what games will be added from month to month, you truly can’t beat the price.
Speaking of price, since a gaming system is only as good as its controller, Amazon has designed its own official Luna Controller. Maximized for the Luna system, this low-latency cloud controller connected easily to all my devices and continues to be a joy to play. Though it has roughly the same footprint and layout as the Stadia Controller and the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, I actually prefer its slightly rougher no-slip texture as it keeps the controller firmly in my hands and helps prevent sweat buildup. This splash of purple under the thumbsticks also gives it a unique and rather smart look.
My only complaint is that it’s battery operated. As in 2 AAAs. There’s a USB-C port at the top of the controller, but it turns out that’s just for wired play. Maybe there’s some movement against rechargeable controllers I just don’t know about, but it seems like a weird misstep otherwise.
Retailing at $69.99, it’s priced appropriately for its quality and functionality—external batteries notwithstanding—but I was pleased to discover you don’t need the Luna Controller to take advantage of Luna gaming. In addition to a free controller app for smartphones, the Luna system also supports other big-name Bluetooth controllers, namely Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers (as well as mouse and keyboard).
What I’m saying is if you have a spare Dualshock 4 lying around and your dad has an active Amazon Prime subscription, you can literally set him up to play Luna on his Fire TV Stick, Fire Tablet, or mobile phone for free this Father’s Day weekend!
Add to this features like integrated Twitch broadcasting and the new Luna Couch option—which provides you with a code you can share with friends to play co-op or online titles together even if they don’t have a Luna subscription—and Luna is an incredibly easy service to recommend.
A Luna Controller with phone clip and Luna+ subscription were provided for review purposes. This post contains affiliate links.