Renegade Kid follows up their enthralling first release, Dementium: The Ward with the equally interesting Moon. Moon is another clever approach to gaming on the DS that pulls off the near impossible, making a good shooter on the graphically challenged platform. 384,403 km from the center of earth, gamers explore the underground alien structure that has been hidden right in front of our eyes for centuries. This is Moon, welcome to the dark side.
Renegade Kid ambitiously takes on the tricky task of making a solid FPS experience for the Nintendo DS. The goal is simple in theory, make a high energy, expiration based first-person shooter that can work within the constrained parameters of the Nintendo DS platform, and guess what? They did it! This Austin, Texas team doesn’t seem to be phased by anything, let alone a blocky graphics and limited controls. Moon is a smooth playing, fun shooter that should be on the top of any gamers list who is getting bored of the normal DS run around. It might not be Metriod; however it has its own delightful charm that makes it a hit.
Even though Moon is a shooter, Renegade hasn’t forgotten about the games plot. This is where the game really shines, differentiating itself from other similar styled attempts. Moon puts the gamer on the cold lunar surface of the Moon in 2058. Researchers have come to learn a buried alien hatch during construction of a new lunar outpost. Start you engines because Moon is about to get a little more exciting as you enter the hatch that lays flat along the moons surface. What mysteries lay beneath the barren wasteland of the Moon is your adventure to discover. The theme is suspenseful and filled with interesting moments of dialog between your crew and the unnamed alien entity that inhabits the underground structure. The best comparison for Moon would be something like Dead Space. Understandable the DS isn’t going to pull of a limb dismembering performance like Dead Space, but it has enough juice to keep you interested as you blast along.
In the space boots of Major Kane you will explore linear hallways with a few branching paths to undercover the truth and mystery of this twisting story. The gameplay is fairly straightforward in the vein of a classic shooter like Doom, minus the chainsaw and floating demon heads. Expect a few weapon upgrades a number of repeating bad guys and some boss battles thrown into the mix. That is the standard issued FPS formula that is presented and executed very nicely, but that’s not it. Moon also gives the gamer a little rolling droid (Remote Access Droid) to use in combination with Major Kane. The droid is mainly used to advance through the simple puzzle sections that usually play out by navigating a series of tunnels and deactivating switches. Jumping into the eye of the little fella is a nice diversion that breaks up the gameplay from a standard shooter. It’s not overly involved, but it is a little extra touch that goes a long way.
Health and saves are handled in a more “old school” approach with save points sporadically hidden throughout a level and heath pick-ups and regeneration satiations placed around the map. You’re not going to have to worry about dying too much because the game isn’t overly difficult thanks to the ease in which in controls and the abundance of firepower you acquire. Making the gamer feel at home is a map displayed on the bottom touch screen which you also use to navigate through the game. The winding network of tunnels might seem confusing at times, however thanks to the access of a full overview map available at a button click and the streaming map on the bottom screen it will be impossible to get stuck. On top of controlling navigation with the stylus you will also aim with it and shoot your weapon with the top left shoulder button. It sounds a little lopsided when you think about it, but once you are in the game it actually feels very natural and intuitive.
Blasting the away at the enemies doesn’t take much skill as the A.I. only uses the berserker attack approach. Expect to see a number of automated sentries, robotic crabs and a lot of little creepy mechanical spiders that attack from all angels. Despite the game being based on aliens you’re not going to find any three headed abominations, or tentacle monsters. It’s mainly of the robotic kind which can get a little boring. Thankfully, Moon has so many things working for it that doesn’t become too dull. One of those “many things” also consist of a few driving sections which have you “wart-hogging” it around the surface between different hatches. The slippery wheels of the lunar buggy are a little underdeveloped, but are still fun.
Now, Moon would have been a perfect experience for me if I didn’t hit the one major bug in the game that caused me to restart the game from the begging. If you’re thinking of getting Moon I’d hit the forums around the net and read up about level 6. I’m usually the gamer that reads about bugs and yet hardly experiences them, but not this time. The real problem here was that Renegade didn’t opt for an option to restart a level. If the game auto-saves, which it doesn’t do often you are stuck playing at that moment even if the level can not be completed (like me). On their part is a small issue that was over-looked and could have easily been solved. Aside from my frustration of putting all my time back into the mix, Moon was a clean cut and solid experience.
Moon is a refreshing, solid shooter for the Nintendo DS that will please all the gamers who have been waiting for the next Metriod Prime to come around. The premise of exploring the inner sanctum of an alien structure underneath the moon is an interesting tale that is told just right. The gunplay might be straight forward and predictable, however Moon is more than simply shooting. Moon has a storyline with a few puzzle aspects thrown in to the mix that will make you want to explore one more section of the map. Most importantly the controls are nailed, making Moon extremely valuable for gamers looking for a “good” FPS experience on the Nintendo DS. Sure, there might be a bug or two lurking the hallways underneath the moon, but they are not enough to stop you from exploring the dark side. Check out Moon.
Gameplay: 8.5, Graphics: 7, Sound: 7, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 8.5 Final: 7.8 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 01.29.09