Moon Chronicles Episode 1 3DS eShop Review
One Small Episode for Man. One Giant Leap for Renegade Kid. –
Hero indie developer Renegade Kid has made a name for themselves over the last several years by releasing memorable titles such as Dementium, Moon, Mutant Mudds, and Bomb Monkey. Moon, an impressive-for-its-time technical FPS marvel on the original DS, is now being revisited as a 3DS eShop exclusive and released as four individual DLC packs. This first pack retails for $8.99 whereas future episodes will only cost a couple of bucks and will continue the story over the next several weeks.
The original DS wasn’t exactly known for First Person Shooters with one of the few highlights being Nintendo’s own Metroid Prime Hunters. Moon, released about 3 years after MPH, stunned players with a buttery smooth 60 fps frame rate with a unique setting and original plotline. Although graphically impressive, this original FPS adventure title ultimately suffered from one-dimensional characters, repetitive environmental layouts, and cheap enemy designs (targeting the same lifeless floating orbs can only be so fun). Basically, this 3DS enhancement is in the same boat as the original – it plays smoothly, it controls well, and remains mildly entertaining despite being a simple corridor FPS.
Moon is sort of like Metroid in the sense that the player will eventually collect new equipment, has a map that details where to go and where you have been, and exploring/backtracking/button-pressing/flip-switching is required. On the other hand, Moon has more in common with the original Doom than Metroid because there is no sprint option, no jump feature, no crouching, and melee combat is removed. All level and environment designs play to these restrictions which ultimately makes Moon a much simpler and straightforward FPS.
There are a couple of new highlighting features in this digital 3DS version that stand out from the boxed original. First, Renegade Kid continues to show support for neglected accessories (the original DS version made solid use of the forgotten DS Lite Rumble Pak accessory that fit inside the GBA slot), by allowing Circle Pad Pro use. Using the stylus to control aiming while using the circle pad to move works well but will inevitably result in tired and cramped hands after a while. There is an option to use the face buttons to control aiming but is nowhere near as responsive as using the touchscreen or the Circle Pad Pro and since the game tallies your accuracy at the end of every stage, players will want to go with the most responsive control option available. Secondly, Moon was an impressive visual game to begin with but has only gotten better with the more powerful 3DS hardware… well, sort of. Thing is, gameplay segments look great. In fact, Moon Chronicles is probably one of the few 3DS games to actually run at a consistent 60 frames per second; screenshots do not do this game justice. Also, playing with the 3D slider cranked all the way up is actually the best way to play as it just makes so much sense for a FPS; I just wish the 3DS hardware had a wider sweet spot when viewing games in 3D. Either way, Moon Chronicles still retains its original impressive visual flare.
Unfortunately, the cutscenes were ripped from the original DS version without any alteration – no increased resolution, no new character models, no new smoother animations, no new voice acting even. While they still look good, the difference between the visual qualities of the cutscenes versus in-game content is extremely jarring. In fact, this might be one of the very few instances that I can recall where the cutscenes actually look much worse than everything in-game. Normally it is the other way around; just look at any pre-rendered cutscene in any Final Fantasy game for example. It is strange that so much love and care went into this higher res port of this cult favorite but then have completely neglected the cutscenes; they do not even support 3D and remain solely a 2D affair too.
Overall, Moon Chronicles still provides entertainment and stands as, if I am not mistaken, the first true FPS on the 3DS system. This fact alone almost makes the game worth checking out. This first episode only takes about an hour to complete, the player is only exposed to a couple different weapons and boss fights, and the plot/characters are as bare bones and generic as can be. However, using the remote control car brings some much needed variety to the gameplay especially since each corridor looks the same as the last, but once you take the plunge and dive into the higher priced initial install fee, players probably won’t mind spending a couple bucks for the next few weeks to finish the adventure.
Outside of having even better looking in-game graphics, the lack of extra features (this would have been the perfect time to introduce wireless multiplayer) might make some fans look for another cheaper alternative.
Also Try Playing With: the Kid Icarus: Uprising plastic stand
Wait For It: a bundle with all Episodes packaged together
Also Try: Dementium The Ward
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com