It takes mere moments to notice that GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon, the welcome revival of Konami's Famicom-exclusive action/RPG hybrid GetsuFumaDen, is the once-respected publisher's uncomfortably close take on Dead Cells' excellent 'action roguelite' gameplay.
There's the opening room containing a visual record of every weapon unlocked so far. There's the sub-weapon cooldown counter. There's the choice of portals leading to the next randomly generated landscape. There's the limited health potions, the special weapon attributes, the mixture of permanent and run-exclusive upgrades for everything ensuring every attempt is just that little bit easier than the last, the towering bosses, the damaging double-jump stomp… You can find the much loved older title's DNA in every aspect of Undying Moon's gameplay. It's an understandable but unwise move that sadly doesn't completely work in this new release's favour, every newly introduced mechanic and item pick-up only inviting comparison with a more fully featured and original alternative.
It all begins positively enough. There's no doubt this game is a stunning treat for the eyeballs, every demon and ragged brushstroke giving the impression you're fighting your way through a living ukiyo-e print. The soundtrack is — if anything — even better, with passionate drum beats running underneath traditional biwa strings and spine-tingling vocals.
Fuma himself is pleasantly nimble to control and the weapons he may come across all have a designated niche to fill; the contrast between the lightning-fast omnidirectional combos of metal fans, the spear's huge arc, the raw weight of a stone club, the whip's long reach and more are always immediate and obvious. Enemies, in their overly-repeated presence, also have clearly defined roles to play: The archer, the bruiser, the static chanter who does nothing but boost nearby demons' abilities to a dangerous degree, the sneaky one prone to disappearing for a short while. With time you start to learn how a few of them behave, and because of that you survive longer than you did before.
And so for the first ten minutes the game's wonderful — unfortunately every moment after that is riddled with minor issues that quickly snowball into a major headache.
From the very first stage you will encounter enemies capable of not only shooting at you from off-screen but also straight through what should be solid impassable scenery, often leading to you unfairly taking damage in a game where every precious hit point counts. Large monsters capable of big swings are often found on solitary platforms where there's not enough room to do more than leap at them and hope for the best or tediously pick them off from afar (assuming you've picked up the right sub-weapon for the job). The camera can be slightly panned around with the right stick, but never far enough for you to tell if you're about to leap down to a lower level or into health-sapping thin air before it's too late.
The game's practically groaning under the weight of numerous types of consumable materials, but only ever mentions what you've got in a few awkward menus, making it difficult to see whether you've finally gathered together enough material for that one upgrade for your favourite weapon; this strips away much of the pleasure of collecting and powering up that sits at the very heart of the genre. Some menus even betray the game's PC roots with mention of non-existent cursors, or leave you swapping between nonsensical 'front' and 'back' weapons.
The mechanically significant kanji that pop up to let you know when you're successfully performing a Break, Flash, or other special attack aren't translated at all, putting up an avoidable barrier between English readers and the game they're trying to play. And far too many actions are tied to the right shoulder button, meaning you'll often find yourself switching to another weapon when you were just trying to pick something up, or uselessly re-reading a stone tablet instead of collecting the bundle of materials nearby (and vulnerable to attack while you're doing so).
Take your Switch on the go and you'll soon spot those beautiful print-inspired vistas have been replaced by grainy atmosphere-spoiling versions of themselves, that look even worse whenever the screen gets busy thanks to some aggressively tuned dynamic resolution scaling. Is this automated solution better than having the game stutter to a halt whenever a boss unleashes a powerful spell? Definitely. But as stylish as the visuals are you never quite believe the graphical load on the hardware - especially when compared to other more impressive games on the system - is heavy enough to warrant such a harsh (if temporary) dip. Handheld mode compromises are inevitable with almost any game but in Undying Moon you'll see new sights with your Switch in your hands and your first thought will be 'I hope next time I get to see this docked'.
Power through these issues and you'll encounter a brief sliver of promise in Getsu Renge, an intimidating midboss who when defeated becomes a permanent ally. She's a stereotypically faster and less resilient playable alternative to the main hero, which could have formed the basis of an extreme challenge mode. Sadly she's just weaker and faster, and you're still expected to upgrade her (through her own upgrade menus) the exact same way you do Fuma — the Fuma you'll have already spent many runs successfully augmenting into a reliable warrior. Renge exists, but you're given no compelling reason to use her.
Many of the avoidable snags found in GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon were solved by genre predecessors long before this game was announced. There is no doubt that in a few patches time this could be a fantastic game — but that's if Konami, which hasn't been in many gamer's good books for a long time, actually grants the development team the time and the funding to work on it. As it stands the game could end up being something special, the trouble is other similar Switch titles already are.
amazing that so much has been invested into the concept and art direction but so many amateur errors and choices in gameplay. A few good updates and yeah, this could be good. Yet they have had so much time since the Steam release to make the said changes. Still enjoyable, but Konami, get it together and finish something properly.
Between this and Skellattack, it seems Konami can't even get their new indie range right. So much promise in both games too.
Oooo! I can't get it! Why developers have problems with optimizing their ports for handheld/undocked mode on Nintendo Switch!? Samurai Spirits/Showdown suffering from this problem. SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy too as well, Fighting EX Layer: Another Dash, Monster Hunter Stories 2, and many others... Why those ports working well only in TV/Docked mode!? I hate it! And now, we have GetsuFūmaDen: Undying Moon, that's have the same problem with handheld/undocked mode.
This is a real shame, I loved the look of it in the Direct and was going to purchase. Now I think I’ll give it a miss.
But hey, for ten extra bucks you get a better game, the original.
I thought this was an Okami type game or better still a follow up to it at first when I saw it just now. No such luck
Sort of regret that I purchased the game. I immediately felt like it was something I’ve already played, but not as good. It unfortunately feels like an inferior Dead Cells and for some reason reminds me of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night with its visual style when I’m playing it (not sure why I feel like it has such a similar art style in my mind, but they still attach), which it doesn’t feel as good as that game either, and I felt that game was sort of a disappointment. At least the Direct gave us the fantastic Triangle Strategy Prologue same day.
Just buy Dead Cells, it’s the pinnacle of this genre.
That's so disappointing. I bloody love Dead Cells (it's my favourite indie game currently) and the game looks and sounds INCREDIBLE. But if it's awkward in handheld (my main mode of play) along with having a general lack of polish in a lot of areas then it's a pass from me. I'm not holding my breath that they'll consistently update it to make it better either. This is Konami we're talking about, they'll do everything in their power to not make a game.
I did get a discount with some gold pts so I managed to get it a little cheaper. It is certainly rough around the edges but I am enjoying it. I don't regret getting it at the price I paid and if they do patch/update it like they seem to do with the Steam version (we did get the latest patch with the easier difficulty) it might turn out alright.
The art is lovely.
So... the average game that have potential gets 'average' score, but Nintendo 1st party average games still get 7 or 8/10 no matter how average they really are.
@anynamereally haha Pokémon brilliant diamond got a 6/10 on this website lol
Was looking forward to this. Turns out it isn’t that good.
Will wait for the portal collection instead or that taiko rhythm festival game
Dang this wasn't even on my radar.. i love dead cells, would love to play a new take on it... Hopefully they fix the game down the line and I may perhaps invest.. but then again this is Konami..we haven't even seen metal gear solid ports in a generation
That’s a real shame! After more than 200 hours with Dead Cells, I had kinda high hopes for this one 😕
This was looking good until the review!
@anynamereally No, those 7 and 8 scores are given to games that a reviewer feels is deserving of a 7 or 8.
If you disagree with a review score, than put in an application for a games website and become a review writer. Show us how it's done.
They turned this game into a rogue-like? What a strange choice. Did the original famicom release feature randomly generated levels? Been a long time and I don’t remember.
My motto on indie games these days: if the visuals look slick, be extra leery of shallow gameplay. Too many games putting it all into the art, and I’m not surprised.
Put about 6 hours in (all handheld) and personally been loving this game so far. The art style still shines through in handheld, so I can't really figure out what the complaint is here (maybe it's just cause I'm playing on an OLED?). Not as fast, fluid, and fun as Dead Cells, but definitely a 7 or 8 in my book.
Granted, I also put about 15 hours into Contra: Rogue Corps and found it to be a fun and rewarding twin-stick dungeon looter. I also loved Deadly Premonition 2 and THOROUGHLY enjoyed Devil's Third on Wii U back in the day.. so maybe I just have a propensity to really gravitate towards flawed yet interesting games?
I wonder how much the DIgital Deluxe Edition is worth. I could do it for the Famicom version of GetsuFumaDen included.
Konami just needs to quit pretending their a gaming company anymore so everyone can just give up on them and all go home
I am glad I held off from purchasing it. I liked the art so I was interested a tad and thought it was unlikely to be average or poor. I was wrong I guess. That's for the review.
What ever happened to the legendary Konami. The out right classics they have produced, that i own, breaks my heart.
Surprised at the score, I picked this up day one and saw the credits role yesterday. It's fun, took a second to click.
Haven't had any of the problems it mentions, like bad handheld performance or off screen projectiles, it's also far more visually striking than its inspiration.
@whitespy12 Nah I'm with you. The review is a little harsh, I am enjoying it too. Sometimes looking at a game and making up your own mind pays off
I bought this, and I thought it was about a 7 or 8. I love the art! I've been having a blast with it tbh. I bought the digital deluxe version.
Had this on my radar as I'm a sucker for this genre. But the review effectively put me off. Especially that I like playing games like these handheld.
I wanted this game to be good, oh well😕
It's a shame so many games are released buggy and unfinished without vigorous playtesting. It's an even bigger shame that it's generally tolerated (more hoped) by consumers that games will be 'fixed' sometime in the future
I committed my own cardinal sin and bought this based on the trailer and before reading/waiting for Nintendo Life’s review. However, I’m really enjoying it and it looks and performs perfectly well so far in hand held mode on my OLED (my preferred and only method of playing to be honest). I don’t regret buying it at all 😊
@anynamereally Nintendo 1st party games don't lack polish, usually, FWIW.
@MattAllsopp i always do that, & thankfully didn't this time. I can't believe there are no reviews for this game on metacritic until this one. That may be intentional, because they knew it wouldn't fare well in reviews, so they didn't provide advance copies. That's speculation, ofc, but it always makes me wonder, just like when companies have embargoes where reviews can't be released before the game, or they don't provide specific console versions to any review outlets (cough, cyberpunk2077, cough). Those things always make me wait, these days. I've learned too many lessons the hard way, & supported way too many crap games.
Based on the number of comments in this thread from other people who have played it, it sounds like the reviewer was the odd one out this time. Will consider a purchase once my backlog dies down...
Yeah I played and I agree with the review. It's not so bad, but the thing is Dead Cells and Neon Abyss are much better games of this style and if I'm going to play a game like that, might as well play the best. I didn't get that far I guess, but what I played felt a bit repetitive and didn't seem to offer anything very original, but what can you expect for a remake.
I was so interested in this game =( I just loooove the graphic design but based on teh reviews and the coments it seems a waste of the little free time I have
It's a big turn-off for me when a game puts so much emphasis on blood spatter.
Man this put a huge damper on my excitement for this game, I remember when I first saw it announced back in 2021 I got super hyped about it and was hoping for a Switch release, now I'll most likely give it a hard pass.
Anyone know if this has been patched yet?
sigh I waited and picked this up during the Big Ol Summer Eshop sale.
I wanted to love GetsuFuMaden: Undying Moon game as it's visuals, theme, motif and aesthetics are stunning and I've come to really enjoy quite a few Rogue-Lite/Likes... but overall this game does a poor job of fully explaining it's mechanics to make permanent progress. As such it's kind of convoluted and poorly executed... which is a shame because it looks and sounds great and there is a foundation for it to be a solid affair with some more TLC from the developers. So far it's just kind of sluggish and a slog, but I may keep at it based on the visual presentation alone- I want to see more despite it's flaws & shortcomings.
Hopefully a substantial update and some additions patch some of the issues and fill out the experience to make it more enjoyable because there is some good here still as it is.
... Wun can only hope.
I have gotten the game recently at a discount.
I even forgot it was similar to Dead Cells...
Still, it is a different game.
I like the aesthetics, the music (I can even say that I've bought GetsuFumaDen only due to 2 music tracks I knew from Castlevania/Smash OSTs), the controls, the monster design.
I spent the whole day playing it when I turned it on for the first time. And I was kind of lucky (or attentive) enough to notice that some materials dissapeared after death - so I had at least 1 or 2 runs I spent without investing into leveling up my char.
I had one run already and now increased the difficulty. I want to check other weapons - now I like katanas, dual blades, umbrellas and gloves.
Slow weapons are more difficult to use for me atm.
Still do not understand how this game got 5/10 here.
It definitely has less contect than Dead Cells. But this is a different game. And I do not mind it would take only 20-30 hours to enjoy. Tbh, infinite gameplay never appealed to me.
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