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Game Review

Moon Chronicles: Episode 1 Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Lee Meyer

Down the hatch...

Renegade Kid originally released first-person shooter Moon on the DS with publisher Mastiff in 2009, though sales were relatively modest — this episodic digital re-release, retitled Moon Chronicles, will be the first time many players experience the game. The 3DS isn't always considered ideal for first-person shooters, but Moon Chronicles shows that the genre can be done quite well on the device. Episode 1: One Small Step is a good introduction to the gameplay, story and structure of Moon Chronicles, but also exposes a few flaws that are likely to plague the rest of the experience.

Taking place in the near future of 2058, Moon Chronicles places players in the shoes of Major Kane, an everyman soldier who has come to investigate a recently discovered hatch on Earth's moon. Shortly after arriving and being briefed by a researcher called Tsukigami and the no-nonsense General Lambert on the hatch's possible connection to the Roswell incident, there's a deadly event to set the scene. Kane goes to investigate, and after accidentally inhaling a strange blue substance heads down into the hatch to to discover whatever secrets may be hiding below.

The story is compelling in a B-movie kind of way; all the archetypes are here, and it's clear from the beginning that Lambert and Tsukigami know more than they're letting on. None of the characters develop beyond "stoic soldier," "tough-talking General" and "overzealous scientist," but the voice acting is decent and the story never interrupts the proceedings for very long. The more compelling story content comes from optional logs that the player can examine, which suggest a sinister, dark project gone horribly wrong.

There are a wealth of control options in Moon Chronicles, from the default circle pad/stylus combination to compatibility with the Circle Pad Pro. Moving with the circle pad and looking around with the stylus isn't ideal for those whose hands cramp easily, but the controls are responsive and only take a few moments to get used to. Shooting is done with the left shoulder button, and the two guns encountered in the game shoot and feel distinct from each other. Players will also come across the Remote Access Droid, which is used to access small areas that Major Kane can't reach. You control the Droid in first person, while Kane waits, and there is a nice amount of tension when enemies approach Kane while you're rushing to disable a forcefield or grab a hidden item. If Kane or the Droid are killed, the player must start over from their last save point; the save points are spaced evenly throughout the map, but it was occasionally frustrating to get killed and have to retread the same area.

Enemies, which range from flying orbs to robotic spiders, drop health or ammo upon being killed and don't respawn. As there is a fair amount of backtracking in Moon Chronicles, players will greatly appreciate not having to go up against the same enemies over and over. Episode 1 has a small number of boss battles, meanwhile, and while they're challenging they're never cheap. Unfortunately, most of the common enemies all look alike, which detracts from the otherwise-compelling mystery and sense of discovery; there is much to discover — fans of Metroid will enjoy finding health and ammo upgrades.

Towards the end of Episode 1, and as shown in the launch trailer, you'll get to drive Lola, a moon rover. The driving is third-person, not unlike the Borderlands series, and can shoot while while moving. Lola controls quite smoothly, but you'll only use it briefly; hopefully, there will be more "Lola missions" throughout the next episodes. In addition to the main game, players can unlock a special training mission after collecting three alien artifacts. The training mission will have players fighting all the enemies they've encountered, which can be helpful for those trying to get better "accuracy" scores at the end of each chapter — each chapter becomes re-playable upon completion.

Moon Chronicles runs extremely smoothly at a constant 60 frames per second, even with the 3D effect turned on. Unfortunately, the visuals are quite drab, with flat textures and reused assets. Most rooms look identical to one another, and the generic "sci-fi" colour palette doesn't make for a visually exciting experience; the cutscenes are nicely rendered, but most of the character models look too similar. The music, meanwhile, is serviceable and moody, but doesn't leave a lasting impression.

One other technical note — we encountered a glitch during the first boss battle in Chapter 2 when we left the boss room to save and returned, only to find that the boss was gone, preventing us from collecting a pivotal item and continuing the game. After trying to figure out what happened, we ultimately had to start over. We're sure that Renegade Kid will fix this in a patch, but for now, be aware of the bug.

Conclusion

Moon Chronicles is a nice, unique addition to the eShop. The episodic structure makes for a relatively short playing time, but the experience is well-crafted and often-exciting, which will leave players eager to play the remaining three episodes as they are released. Gamers who already played Moon on the DS won't find anything different here, but for everyone else Moon Chronicles is easy to recommend.

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User Comments (73)

MohamedHarati

#2

MohamedHarati said:

I'm getting this one , looks interesting & different from other games we used to see on the eShop

Spoony_Tech

#4

Spoony_Tech said:

Well a bit of a mixed review. Wish they had updated the graphics a bit more though. I'm getting it if only for its uniqueness as a 3ds game but the initial price seems a bit high now that I know they didn't do much to update the graphics. Didn't play the original so I'll get something out if it for sure.

@leemeyer26 How is the 3d depth? Is there barely 3d there or is it quite good?

Dpullam

#5

Dpullam said:

This still looks like a unique experience to be had on the Nintendo 3DS to me, but I'll probably end up waiting for all the episodes of the first season to be released before jumping in. Even with the supposedly drab textures, I can find myself enjoying this game quite immensely. They just need to fix that bug ASAP!

3dcaleb

#7

3dcaleb said:

i have the original and i loved it. so i will for sure get this and i cant wait for the new chapters!!!

3dcaleb

#11

3dcaleb said:

@CaviarMeths
the original was a full price game, and this one has the remake plus tons more content, so i dont think they are overpricing it at all. i think its a pretty good deal actually.

bizcuthammer

#12

bizcuthammer said:

I laughed a bit when i read you encounter a dude named Tsukigami. Tsukigami can mean Moon God in Japanese. Wonder if that's forshadowing...? Anyway it sounds like an interesting game, so i may pick it up once i have the time to do so.

3dcaleb

#13

3dcaleb said:

@Falk_Sturmfels
yea that sucks but hopefully u wont have to wait too long. but you will probably get it and all the extra episodes at the same time, and wont have to wait for them to be released one at a time like us.

BakaKnight

#14

BakaKnight said:

Sound quite interesting. Dark atmospheres in space always had a kind of charm if done right, I could pick this up when it will arrive in Europe ^_^

Kirk

#15

Kirk said:

See; they can do fps games that are good enough to be worthy of at least consideration on 3DS...and that's what they should have stuck to with Cult County imo.

Outside of that they were just pushing the boat way too far out to expect more than an handful of people to get excited about basically the same quality of game on Wii U. I mean imo it really did just look like a 3DS games scaled up to run on Wii U for the most part.

Basically; they're not currently capable of creating the kind of 3D fps game people would expect to see on Wii U imo (in terms of quality, presentation and polish etc), even on the Wii U eShop, but on 3DS they're mostly fine and for now I think they should play to their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

Just focus on getting Cult County on the 3DS for now and do the best job possible...

unrandomsam

#17

unrandomsam said:

@citizenerased The amount of episodic releases on Nintendo platforms that actually get the second episode is pretty low.

@memoryman3 Because it is rubbish. (If he is going to complain about something not selling in Europe like he does then he might as well wait until he actually has something decent).

memoryman3

#18

memoryman3 said:

@unrandomsam Mutant Mudds is actually quite good. It does what it says on the box, it's challenging and looks quite nice. It also has fantastic retro music.

sub12

#19

sub12 said:

So gameplay wise, if this more of an old school twitch FPS where you blast everything in sight (like Quake or Blood, etc), or is it more about exploration / atmosphere?

memoryman3

#20

memoryman3 said:

@Kirk Batman Blackgate HD, Castlevania HD, Resident Evil HD, AC Liberation HD etc. all got lacklustre reviews due to being less impressive.

(No hybrid, Please no hybrid for next gen, We'll get more games like this for the TV.....)

TG1

#21

TG1 said:

Good review. Too bad that the same screenshot was reused though - there's so many available to choose from.

Jaz007

#22

Jaz007 said:

@CaviarMeths It's a bit more than 1/4. Think of it as $15 for the full game. The rest of the game will in 3 segments, at the cheap price of $2. Just wait for them all to release and buy them together if you don't want to buy part of an indie game.

unrandomsam

#23

unrandomsam said:

@memoryman3 I think the music is terrible. It repeats far too quickly and it is incredibly grating. (The only two things I cannot have the music on with my 3DS is Mutant Mudds and 3D Classics Twinbee). It is incredibly poor if compared to the retro games with good music or the modern indie games with good retro inspired music or good music made properly like used to be in the old days. (Composed on a Famicom with the Konami mapper for example)

River3636

#24

River3636 said:

I have this game. I got it for $6 at gamestop a while ago. It's alright. I didn't beat it,but this game is not my cup of tea . Had I not played it I would consider looking into it but it is worth the download, whoever say that it isn't is being plain cheap.

kupo

#25

kupo said:

@sub12 It's more of the latter...exploration and atmosphere. I haven't played it, but I know this because it's why I never picked up the original on DS. Definitely getting this version, though...

Action51

#27

Action51 said:

Your character in this game is called "Major Kane"...

Wow, that has to be the most over-used name in all sci-fi/fantasy/action...does he save Pandora from the Dark Lord using Excalibur?

Sorry, but all cliche' names aside, this game still looks uninspired. I await Treasurenauts!

shane1228

#28

shane1228 said:

Wasn't expecting the review so soon but this just confirmed my previous plan, that I shal be picking this up on Thursday!

Gen0neD

#29

Gen0neD said:

Gonna dive in when all episodes are out. I'm currently doing the episodic thing with Game of Thrones and the wait for each episode borders on unbearable. I shall wait...

readyletsgo

#31

readyletsgo said:

I think I'll wait till all episodes are out, as one download, on sale, in Europe, will be a while :(

dsparil

#32

dsparil said:

The original release of Moon starts out kinda meh, but it eventually picks up. I liked it quite a bit by the end.

tj3dsXL

#33

tj3dsXL said:

(っ-●益●)っ ,︵‿ USA = "1st" on the MOON once again this time !!! [̲̅$̲̅(̲̅ιοο̲̅)̲̅$̲̅]

Giygas_95

#36

Giygas_95 said:

I never played the original on DS so I may get this...when my 3DS gets back from being repaired.

SyFyTy

#37

SyFyTy said:

Ive said it before each individual game the ds had showed lower numbers because the game to gamer ratio was so high. This means the market was saturated with titles, that each title with the exception of very popular ones, showed low numbers, this did not mean games were not good. Add to that the speed with which they were being released and you have fewer opportunities with which to try new titles before the next big thing arrived. This is the reason I'm still buying DSi titles (to this day (2014) and not sweating the 3ds releases.

theblackdragonAdmin

#39

theblackdragon said:

I remember enjoying the original, and I look forward to playing through the new content too. Roll on Thursday~

MakeMyBiscuit

#41

MakeMyBiscuit said:

I was a big fan of the original DS release but I stopped playing because the stylus controls did not work with my big hands. With improved graphics and Circle Pad Pro this is a must buy for me!

Does make me wonder where is 3DS Metroid Prime Hunters?!?!

santaglause

#42

santaglause said:

i spent good money on this , i really thought it made me sad and lonely, dementium was a good game from the same crew!, plus their doing it reboot on pc , bring it to wiiu im sold.

Iggly

#47

Iggly said:

To be honest, I never tried FPS games before as they always seem similar to me. Although this seems pretty interesting, I might buy it after I finally get Mario Kart 8.

brandonbwii

#54

brandonbwii said:

It looks like most responses to this game are positive. Where's the hate guys? Where's the hate? ;)

Joking aside, good review. I'm a little disappointed that this is just the game I already own spread out through chapters (I want season 2 already), I'm still going to double dip since now I can play it with my CPP.

maximo_jd

#55

maximo_jd said:

Okay so i'm confused here....Is this release the full original game ,and the later episodes are new content ,or did they split up the original game into episodes so this release is only part of the original?

c1pher_c0mplet

#56

c1pher_c0mplet said:

@maximo_jd Episode 1 is a remake of the original Moon: it's the entire game. The following episodes 2-4 (which are still in development) are going to be all-new content further fleshing out what happens in Moon. (Episodes 2-4 aren't really "sequels," which is why I think Renegade Kid went with the 'episode' nomenclature.)

maximo_jd

#57

maximo_jd said:

Thanks c1pher_c0mplet i thought that was how i heard it before when the game was originally announced although reading reviews on the game made me think otherwise if thats the case it'll definitely be on my get list

santaglause

#58

santaglause said:

to be honest i found this game on ds to be pretty boring, dementium is by far the better game and should have been the game they chose!

AG_Awesome

#59

AG_Awesome said:

@c1pher_c0mplet @maximo_jd You're mistaken. Season 1 is the entire first game. It is seperated into 4 "episode" packs. Episode 1 is what comes out Thursday. The remaining episodes are the rest of the game. That's why the review mentions only driving the rover once. They havn't played the rest of the game yet.

Next year Season 2 comes out, which will be the "sequel".

Easily confusing though. Hope this helps

I'm sad they didn't use the graphic update to remodel some of the environments so it all doesn't seem to be repeating so often. Also, why didn't the reviewer touch on controls better. I want to know how the game works with the CPP. Come on man!

c1pher_c0mplet

#60

c1pher_c0mplet said:

@AG_Awesome Thanks for clearing that up. The wording on a section of Renegade Kid's blog made it seem like Episode 1 was the entire game and 2-4 were "expansions." Even if this initial portion coming Thursday will only be 1/4 of the entire game, it still doesn't deter me from purchasing it later this week.

AG_Awesome

#61

AG_Awesome said:

@c1pher_c0mplet no problem! It confused me too because of how they mentioned the sequel. All these seasons and episodes etc, lol.

I can't wait to get it! I liked the original til I had the rover glitch. I'm just waiting to hear how the CPP works before finalizing my decision.

BulbasaurusRex

#62

BulbasaurusRex said:

@bizcuthammer "Tsuki" does mean "moon," but Google Translate says "gami" isn't a word in Japanese. If the name were "Tsukikami," then you would be correct.

This game sounds great! I'll add it to my Wishlist. Hopefully the future episodes won't be cancelled like with "Pearl Harbor Trilogy" or "Sonic 4" on WiiWare.

tj3dsXL

#64

tj3dsXL said:

@AG_Awesome CPP = smooth as butter on this COOL donkey GAME !!!, so glad to have added this to my games -digital 4-life collection !

WinterWarm

#68

WinterWarm said:

My questions: Will all guns be returning? I want more than two weapons in a first-person shooter.

ouroborous

#73

ouroborous said:

"episode 1" feels like a level or two, it is incredibly short. I don't see how it could be a whole first game.

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