While Gay-Nerds strives to cover all areas of Nerd-dom, most of us are partial to playing video games. We all have our favorites, agree on a few titles, and won’t shut up about our hatred for a few of them. However, everyone has a few pet releases that fly under other people’s radar. Diamonds in the Rough allows these titles for a few moments of glory before quietly returning to the cold recesses of eBay and used game store shelves. Today’s entry by Fishy/Fishingthesky sheds light on the Nintendo DS’s “Moon”, a first-person shooter that breaks molds while pushing hardware towards its maximum potential.
I love the Nintendo DS. It’s the only system I have been able to share and talk about with both hardcore gamers and the most technophobic people I know. Every strategy nerd loves the plethora of punishing grid-based games, every reactionary platformer can enjoy the new Super Mario and Sonic games, and RPG fanatics are downright spoiled with the number of titles on there. More impressively is the array of unorthodox franchises and genres that have come into being on this format. Nintendogs gave gamers an endearing reason to check in once a day with their system. Trauma Center crushed many a pre-med student’s dream (okay, my dream) of becoming a surgeon. Games in the Brain Age and Professor Layton series were attractive to young and old alike for their accessible brainteasers, while Phoenix Wright has bridged the gap between campy comedy and harrowing courtroom drama to ensnare legions of followers.
The DS is lucky to have enough developers willing to take risks and create experiences for any and everyone; it’s portability only makes it easier to enjoy. The touch-screen’s placement and sensitivity with the bread-and-butter button layout, welcoming programmers to try new control schemes to entice players of all persuasions. Why is it then that the first-person shooter has had very few showings on this system? Could it be the “target audience” isn’t demanding enough? Is the thought of reducing your friends and enemies to giblets on your way to work that repulsive? For whatever reason, the DS has not seen many FPS titles despite its tight controls and wireless capabilities.
Renegade Kid’s Moon is one of a handful of first-person shooters on Nintendo’s handheld, but it doesn’t quite feel like a shooting game. You control Major Kane as he investigates an uncovered hatch on Earth’s moon. Save for some communication from his base, he doesn’t communicate with another human being. Between scrambling for his life, fighting off robots and security drones, Kane tries to uncover what happened since the last broadcast from the station through intelligence reports and hacking security systems. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s a surprisingly engaging story for a shooter.
What is most pleasing about Moon is that it knows exactly what it wants to be and accomplishes it. There are a number of weapons and robots to use at your disposal as you try to survive the traps and bots scattered throughout the underground corridors and caverns. The controls are excellent, balancing face button and touch-screen controls in a refreshingly sensible way. While there are a few driving areas, the game is more concerned with keeping a pristine FPS experience. There aren’t any nonsensical platforming areas or escort missions, just great shooting segments.
Moon makes sense. Enemies don’t respawn after you blow them up, and powerups rarely go away, allowing you to solve the puzzles and poke around with a great deal less stress. Some scenarios are intense (especially the boss fights), the game rewards players for going back and exploring in a calmer state of mind, sort of like after clearing an area in Bioshock’s Rapture. While a few reviewers complained about the somewhat monotonous background graphics, I was relieved to see some consistency after years of hopping to “fire”, “jungle”, “desert” and “ice” levels. While the bleeps and crunches of machinery might irk some players, I thought it was appropriate for the situation. The plot is also plausible for a game occurring in the near-future (thank goodness).
Moon is short, sweet and reliable, pushing the DS’s processors to their limits. Those who remember iD’s glory days of Heretic and Doom will find a lot to love about this little gem. It should be sitting in your game store’s used bin for five dollars. Do it a favor and give it a home.
Recommended if you like: Heretic, Bioshock, Dementium: The Ward, Metroid Prime
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