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Moon – the final word review

AT A GLANCE
  • Ultra-smooth aiming and firing
  • A few really well-designed rooms
  • Very ambitious, almost gets it right
  • Gets repetitive after two hours
  • Boring enemy design
  • They were so close!

It’s tempting to jump right into Moon’s technical achievements and all-around impressive attempt at creating a handheld FPS, but let’s begin with a broader appraisal of what developer Renegade Kid has accomplished. For the most part, this is what inspires publishers looking to release a game on the DS:

While the mighty mane of Ted Danson and disarming good looks of a mid-80s Tom Selleck are fine and well for those seeking an audience with a crippling case of baby fever, we’re after something a bit more, well, not shitty. Like say, this:

Bone-chilling sci-fi is precisely what drove Renegade Kid to produce Moon, a fully 3D FPS that controls smooth as butter. Aiming is done with the stylus, allowing you quick and easy blasting more akin to a PC mouse than clumsy analog sticks, and the only other button you have to worry about is L (or R for the lefties). Pressing L fires whichever gun you’ve acquired, and swapping weapons is equally easy thanks to an intuitive touch screen interface. Once you’re acclimated to the controls, actual gameplay is a slower take on the Doom/Quake formula, and that’s where the problems kick in.


Above: Strangely enough, that’s the weakest gun you’ll use

Once the initial “wow, this is really slick” wears off, you’ll quickly realize the gameplay is stuck in the ‘90s, with straightforward, nearly identical hallways and repetitive combat. No help from the enemies either, as they’re mostly floaty robots that hover around like metallic mosquitoes, and destroying faceless, emotionless automatons is about as fun as fighting a calculator.


Above: Some levels put you inside the LOLA rover, which comes equipped with standard 32-bit power sliding

We expect more out of the FPS genre than collecting keys and trudging through lookalike corridors. Maybe if the enemies were livelier, your character faster and the tasks presented more varied, we’d really get behind this, as Moon is definitely not a bad game – just an OK one with a few serious issues. The real stickler for us though is the fact Nintendo did the same idea, better, three years ago. Remember Metroid Prime Hunters?


Above: Four player DS deathmatching… from 2006

When today’s “technically impressive” DS game can’t compare to one that did the same things three years ago plus an extensive multiplayer component (of which Moon has none), it’s hard to retain that first jolt of enthusiasm. You’re getting a lesser experience despite 36 months of possible improvements.

Next page – a direct video comparison of Moon and Hunters, plus our verdict.

Below is a video detailing the typical gameplay experience for both games. Metroid first, then Moon.

Despite being significantly older, Metroid packs a lot more punch. Better architecture, more interesting sound effects, more intense enemies, just about any measure you want to use, Metroid wins. We could forgive Moon’s overall slowness if the atmosphere were suitably unsettling or the storyline engrossing, but neither are the case; so-so gameplay and so-so plot bring down the otherwise admirable work done here.


Above: Psshh, they’re still using the TRU-8927 models in this station? How embarrassing…

We desperately want to sprint into the streets, tossing confetti in the air, singing Renegade Kid’s praises for daring to dream up a moody FPS on a system best known for preteen wish fulfillment. Instead we recommend it as a positive example to other developers, that better things are possible if you merely put in the effort. So please Renegade Kid, don’t be discouraged. Fine tuning the gameplay for a sequel (or follow-up project) could result in something really worth getting excited about.

Jan 23, 2009

More Info

Release date: Jan 13 2009 - DS (US)
Available Platforms: DS
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Mastiff
Developed by: Renegade Kid
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Drug Reference, Violence

23 comments

  • Spybreak8 - January 30, 2009 9:38 a.m.

    Yea, take the game you're reviewing and use a game that works for comparison, I like that method. (Shown by example) It looks like Moon would give you good nostalgia. Can you play Moon with the thumb pad lol, great idea except your thumb is in the way. I started to use that with Hunters until I noticed I couldn't see most of the time.
  • MB2KSpicules - January 30, 2009 6:54 a.m.

    Having purchased and played the game, I have to totally agree with Brett. I am a FPS fan, I've played and enjoyed many less than stellar FPSes(6-7 in mag scores) and was totally expecting to love this game, despite the review. As soon as I started shooting at the uninspired, floating geometric-shape robots with the "super" assault rifle (which is anything BUT), I regretted my purchase. The graphics and framerate are quite impressive, but the weapons are weak, the enemies are boring and the game is just not that fun. I really wanted to try and enjoy it, but playing it was somewhat of a chore, from the start, and didn't get much better. This plays like a mid 90's PC FPS from a third-rate developer. Imagine if Gears or Halo played like Quake - a 12-year old game - what kind of score would they get then? I understand that Moon is on handheld, but we all know that more computing power does not guarantee better gameplay and vice-versa. Before playing Moon, I couldn't see how Brett could give this game a score so low. Now, after buying, I think he was being generous. Just wish I would have gamefly-ed it instead of wasting my precious Gamestop giftcards.
  • lava_lamp - January 24, 2009 7:01 p.m.

    metriod prime:hunters suck the multiplayer was pretty good but the singleplayer was boring so im evening bothering with this one
  • smallberry - January 24, 2009 9:28 a.m.

    MMmmm Tom Selleck....
  • sniper430 - January 24, 2009 2:32 a.m.

    What we really need is another Metroid Prime Hunters- i still deathmatch with my friends time to time...
  • Winnar - January 24, 2009 1:22 a.m.

    Ha, I just noticed that Brett reviewed Metroid too. It all makes sense now. Brett was expecting Metroid Hunters 2 and was surprised to find an adventure game set in space that actually had a good story and great gunplay. Talk about personal bias! :P
  • Winnar - January 24, 2009 12:57 a.m.

    infestedandy, you miss the point. I don't have a personal bias towards Renegade Kid. I love Nintendo, and their first-party games. Metroid DS bored me. I couldn't force myself to complete it. Moon is a far more interesting and accessible game. You can't base your opinion on a 30s video clip. You could just as easily create a 30s video that demonstrated completely different positive and negative aspects of both games. A game should be valued on the sum of its parts, and the sum of Moon deserves more that 6/10.
  • infestedandy - January 23, 2009 11:56 p.m.

    You guys are pointing out one or two things that Moon has over Metroid and then expecting a much greater score out of it. Scores always stir the pot and Brett did state how much he wanted the game to succeed. Fact of the matter is if a game is created with more quality then it's going to be a better experience. You can tell just from a 30s segment what Brett was talking about. The sound quality is much lower, the enemies are animated stiffly, nothing seems as robust and aesthetically appealing as Metroid, the list goes on. Both games are in the same genre so it's the norm that they're going to be compared. I understand that Renegade Kid had an ambitious vision and it definitely shows. But when compared to Nintendo, a low-scale developer like these guys are going to have a hard time competing. Put aside your personal bias, congratulate them, and then move on. Here's to hoping they learned some valuable lessons.
  • Winnar - January 23, 2009 10:28 p.m.

    Good point CorpHicks: Moon's LOLA vehicle is excellent, and the boss fights are really cool. Even though one boss is revisited in Moon a couple of times, the gameplay in each encounter is totally different. Plus, the 3 Guardians exist because of story elements that I won't mention as to not include spoliers.
  • CorpHicks - January 23, 2009 10:17 p.m.

    A 6?! Do not listen to this review. I love this game. Renegade Kid took the lessons learned with Dementium and turned it into a very well layed out story-driven FPS. Unlike MPH, Moon runs at 60 FPS and MPH does not. Also MPH's boss battles blew ass. Can't fly Samus' ship in MPH but you can drive a vehicle in Moon. 36 months of what you were saying...?
  • revrock - January 23, 2009 9:59 p.m.

    Great to see more of this on DS... but I am still holding out 'till Chinatown Wars.
  • Romination - January 27, 2009 1:40 a.m.

    This is a nice style. I think it's great, and I always love the lack of 'FANS OF THE GENRE BLAAAAAHHHH!!!!!' Thank you, mister olston.
  • jar-head - January 26, 2009 12:55 a.m.

    2:15- jAWS MUSIC???
  • HEYpoleposition - January 25, 2009 5:19 p.m.

    Liking the review style Mr. Elston! Was really excited about Moon.. too bad.. Really hope we see this improved upon by Renegade Kid sometime soon
  • EvilNinjaSquibidyflop - January 24, 2009 9:40 p.m.

    So, Brett, ended up not liking it? I admit, the scrrenshots do look at little bad from where I'm sitting, but then again, the DS screen is much smaller than this. I hate to say it, but you may be wrong. MPH was basically a port of the GC games but with different levels and dialogue. Moon was built from the groun up with specific ideas in mind, and a much smaller budget. I'm not saying that you should judge games based on their funding, or the Wii would be getting perfect 10s. I'm just asking to keep in mind, and I'm sure you have, that this is a new IP, from an independent studio, who is doing this out of their own money. Tip of the hat to Renegade Kid, on what I'm sure is a fine game.
  • ssj4raditz - January 24, 2009 6:37 p.m.

    A little disappointing, but I got the game and still am glad I did. It's nice to see a dev simply trying to push a system to see what it can do. Hopefully Renegade Kid can knock their next one out of the park.
  • key0blade - January 24, 2009 1:28 p.m.

    Hmmm
  • somthing42 - January 24, 2009 6:06 a.m.

    I'm going to check it out to see for myself. the new format is very helpful. reCAPTCHA: assorted lamb
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - January 23, 2009 11:09 p.m.

    Believe me, I really wanted to rate it higher, but the bosses bored me and the whole experience is very slow. Moon does indeed look 60fps, but Hunters has a lot more going on in each level, and a locked 30 is still great. Granted, Nintendo has a bigger team, but again, it was built on tech three years ago. That's a long time in the tech world. Keep in mind I'm far from the lowest score out there - 6 means "DECENT" in our template.
  • KidKobun - January 23, 2009 10:35 p.m.

    Woah, a 6?! Can't say I saw that one coming. Keep in mind this is the DS. And personally I prefer the absence of a multiplayer mode in favor of a professionally written story on a handheld device. If I want multiplayer I'll play Halo or CoD.

Showing 1-20 of 23 comments

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