UPDATE: A video review has been added to the article. A 3D remake of a classic DS shooter.
Video review below!
I can’t say enough good things about the original Moon for DS. Just check out my review from back in the day. This review will focus less on the meat of Moon Chronicles and more on what’s new and different. The gameplay is roughly identical and there is no new content, so my review of the overall game still stands, but developer Renegade Kid has made some real improvements.
The visuals have been upscaled considerably. No longer do you have to deal with fuzzy textures and pixelated character models—everything is smooth, high-resolution, and runs at 60 frames per second. Moon Chronicles is a beautiful game. Now, it’s true that many of the subterranean (sub-lunarian?) corridors have no real visual panache, but I find it increases the level of dread. It’s all very clean and precisely built. The rarity of set piece areas makes the few that do appear stand out.
There are four selectable control options—two for lefties and two for righties. But Renegade Kid went ahead and added support for your underused Circle Pad Pro (original or XL), and the result is wonderful. I had a difficult time playing DS FPS games because my hands would inevitably seize up after an hour of clutching a stylus with my left hand and keeping my right hand in a claw-like position, holding the system and using the buttons. With the Circle Pad Pro, however, these problems disappear, and I am dual-sticking this game to great effect. However, Circle pad Pro or no, my issues with the loose aiming stand—especially with the innumerable floating droids, getting a straight shot is frustratingly difficult. The game’s default weapon has a certain amount of aiming assist, but it’s still kind of frustrating.
This maiden episode ends as you descend a mysterious second elevator, which means that you have to drive there with the game’s “Warthog” named LOLA. LOLA was kind of a pain to control on the DS, but with a Circle Pad Pro...she’s very responsive. Although, as before, the LOLA segment doesn’t last very long.
The cut scenes are a weak point, even though they feature increased resolution. They look terrible in comparison to the shiny new game. The sudden drop in quality is very apparent and jarring. Thankfully, they never last very long.
Despite my enthusiasm for Moon, and, by extension, Moon Chronicles, I am reluctantly critical of the game’s episodic nature. Episode One just doesn’t have a lot of meat on its bones, and subsequent episodes do not (at this time) have release dates. We’re talking an hour of content, total, including the training mission, on Normal difficulty. Sure, you can play on Rookie and Veteran to eke out more playtime, but you’re not making any progress. Plus, there’s the fact that it’s philosophically difficult to judge a piece of a whole. I liked Episode One, but it’s really the first level of Moon. Can you give a score to the first level of Halo? Sure, but is that the ideal way to judge that game? Still, this short snippet of Moon Chronicles is well crafted, beautiful, and captures a nice ominous sense of dread.