One small step...
The moon has always been an object of fascination for me. Probably because it's a giant rock floating up in the sky, and that's just crazy, man! You know? But even in games, when I look up at that skybox and see that massive cheese ball glowing in the night sky, I just want to go up there and touch it, hang around in it's low gravity, and explore it's mysterious surface. I mean, don't you? Sounds like fun, right?
Luckily for me, there are games out there that let you pull a Neil Armstrong and set foot on the moon. Not only that, you get to do some pretty awesome stuff when you visit some of gaming's orbiting satellites. Here are some of the most memorable moments you, too, can experience when you step into a new frontier and visit the moons in games.
Mess with low gravity in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
The thing about moons is that a satellite's smaller mass makes the gravitational pull significantly less than that of the larger planet it orbits. Don't ask me, it's SCIENCE. Anyway, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel takes full advantage of these facts and plops you on the surface of Elpis, Pandora's moon, reduced gravity and all. Shooting bad guys with a multitude of high-powered weaponry, in combination with long-distance super jumps, makes Borderlands combat an entirely new experience. And, as you might have guessed, it's a blast!
Usually, I'd have to wait for a modder to get his/her hands on a shooter before I could jump and bound around in low gravity. Not so in the Pre-Sequel. This time the floaty mechanic is built right in, giving me the chance to leap over cover to fire a few shotgun blasts into my cowardly enemies, or smash bandits with elementally-charged butt stomps. I can't think of many more satisfying ways to fool around with science than that.
Explore the dream-like world inside the moon in Majora's Mask
Throughout all of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, you're under the constant threat of a sinister-looking moon (with the creepiest moon-face ever) crashing down onto the town of Termina. After you've battled all of the baddies, morphed yourself into multiple creatures, and come to the final challenge, you finally get a closer look at the looming threat.
Link doesn't actually step onto the surface of the genocidal moon--he goes inside it. Once you're crossed the threshold, you find a single tree on a grassy hill, surrounded by mask-wearing children. Okayweird. That was unexpected. Maybe I was assuming there'd be dark tunnels, or something less... comforting. The whole sequence leaves you questioning whether you actually stopped the moon armageddon. Is Link really dead? What's happening? Confusing as the last section of the game may be, it sure leaves an impression.
Listen to the DuckTales' moon level music
DuckTales is an all-around awesome game, whether you play the classic or remastered version. But one of the most memorable moments from Scrooge's pogo cane-bouncing adventure is when you set foot on the moon in search of the Green Cheese of Longevity. I mean, the gameplay is pretty standard DuckTales platforming, but that music... Oh, it's soooo good.
The original NES 8-bit chiptune Moon theme will always be great, but if you want to have real musical enjoyment injected directly into your eardrums, play the remastered version. The music is so amazing that there are now countless tributes on the interwebs. Like this guy's acapella rendition.
Fight a giant, chained monster in Destiny
If you've been playing Destiny as much as I have, you've faced off against Phogoth the Untamed dozens of times by now. While the mystique of the encounter wears off after repeat attempts, journeying down to the Summoning Pits is an intense experience the first time through. You and your Fireteam delve deeper and deeper into the Hive-infested moon caves, all the while hearing the roar of some unseen monstrosity lurking in the depths. Then you finally meet face to face.
The dark hallways open up to a spacious room filled with Hive minions and the humongous monster chained up in the center. My first thought was, "Cool, he's chained up. Easy pickings." But no. Pelting him with bullets just pisses him off, causing him to break his chains and shoot his face lasers at you. Taking down the giant monster along with his horde of Wizards, Knights, and Acolytes is quite the achievement, and one I have no problem jumping back into for a chance to get some sweet, sweet Legendary gear.
Almost send yourself endlessly floating through space in Portal 2
Spoilers ahead. You have been warned! Like, in the next sentence. For real.
Okay, so the final boss in Portal 2 ends up being your not-so-helpful buddy Wheatley, who's all decked-out in GlaDoS' old mechanized body thing. In the final battle, as you dodge his attempts to blast you to bits, the collapsing facility's roof begins to break apart, giving you a perfect view of the moon.
With no other options, you fire off a portal toward the moon's surface, opening the other portal you set just below Wheatley. As it happens when any door is opened to space, everything in the room gets sucked into the void, including Chell. As she's hanging onto Wheatley's flappy, eyelash handlebars, you get a great view of the Earth from the location of one of the historic moon landings. All without one bit of astronaut training.
Travel from the moon to earth on a sword in Asura's Wrath
A battle between two demigods in Asura's Wrath is like Dragon Ball Z on steroids. The duels can start off relatively small-time as the combatants blow up rocks and break each other's arms off, but when the fight heats up, boy does it get intense. Like when Asura faces off against his old mentor Augus on the moon.
Apart from punching each other into craters and nearly slashing the entire moon in half, the most memorable point in this epic duel to the death is when Augus lunges at Asura with his ever-extending sword. Asura prevents the sword from stabbing him by grabbing the blade--but the attack is a one way ticket from the moon to a brutal impaling on the Earth's surface by the miles-long sword. Not the most comfortable way to travel, but, holy crap, is it awesome!
Explore a Nazi moon base in Wolfenstein: The New Order
The Lunar Base level in Wolfenstein: The New Order is one of the ultimate examples of moon-based badassery. In order to save the world, BJ Blazkowicz needs to infiltrate the moon base to grab the Nazi's nuclear decryption keys. To do this, he steals a Nazi's clothes, takes a shuttle to orbit, and sneaks into the heavily defended compound.
From early on in the game, you're teased about setting foot on the moon. At one point, in the campaign's alternate history, you even explore a location commemorating the first Nazi on the Earth's rocky satellite--to which BJ exclaims, "Fuck you, moon." But when you finally get up there, The New Order doesn't disappoint. The moon is populated by evil future-Nazis to obliterate, there's an array of high-tech laser weapons to use, and you get to play with the floaty reduced gravity of the lunar outdoors. What more could you want? Maybe duel-wield laser weapons? Well guess what--you get those too!
What are your favorites?
Those are some of my fondest moments spent on the surface of the moon. Have you stepped foot on the moon in a game or otherwise (that would be totally cool)? Do you have any memorable lunar moments to share? Let me know in the comments below.