Moon (Nintendo DS) Review

By Shane Jury 30.07.2009

Review for Moon on Nintendo DS

It is a perplexing situation that inspires discussion; how could the two most popular games-playing machines on the market, each the possessor of a control scheme that are tailor suited to the genre, be lacking in entries into game development's most abused genre - the First Person Shooter? An even stranger commodity is that the DS's touch screen has only played host to a small number of high profile shooters like Metroid Prime: Hunters and the Call of Duty games. Indie developer Renegade Kid has attempted to bolster this limited market somewhat successfully with Dementium: The Ward and now they're taking another shot, this time in outer space.

Bearing no relation to the recent movie of the same name, Moon takes the player onto the celestial body of the sky and casts them into the shoes of Major Kane, the leader of an elite task force sent to investigate a sealed hatch below the surface. As per the unwritten rules of videogames, nothing is as it seems, and Kane soon has to search for his missing teammates and unravel the secrets of all that is beyond the hatch.

The Moon itself is a relatively unexplored concept in gaming, even within the FPS genre, but despite this the plot doesn't evolve dramatically beyond the standard 'eliminate enemy threat' objective. The story is excellently portrayed through effective voice acting for key scenes and in-game-model cutscenes. Moon takes some inspiration from Metroid Prime, not only in the feeling of isolation with both atmospheric music and creepy sounds, but in leaving terminals with logs for the player to discover and piece together the events happening around them. Radio contact with Kane's superiors - not unlike that of Metal Gear, but without the voices and witty dialogue - helps keep the segregation at bay, although ultimately it is just you against hoards of robots.

Screenshot for Moon on Nintendo DS

As proven with the DS's very first demo, games of the First Person Shooter persuasion are a perfect fit of the device and its two screens, and Moon is arguably the one pioneering game to show off what the unit can do. Renegade Kid have clearly outdone themselves here in both visual design and control, as Moon is locked in at 60 frames per second with no hiccups anywhere to be seen, and only a very slight loading pause between areas. The tried-and-tested setup of d-pad for movement, L for firing and the touch screen for aiming is in force here, with an option to switch sides for the lefties, and a Y-axis shift for touch control. One glaring omission from this setup however, is calibration for the screen, or to be more specific, how sensitive the aiming is set to be. Due to this, when you first start up Moon, you'll be guiding Kane's vision all over the place like a youngster desperately looking for Waldo. FPS enthusiasts may therefore get tired of Moon before it really gets started, since control-wise it's an adapt-or-die situation, but the system that is there works quite well after some practice.

Aside from the aiming marker, the touch screen plays host to a small - though enlargeable - map that becomes a godsend later on and a weapons icon you can slide across to select different weapons. Moon provides seven choices of gun, with your assault rifle being the only one with unlimited (but weak) ammunition; further blasters are recovered throughout the story, often obtained at pivotal moments. The eighth weapon slot is host to one of the game's most important features; a small remote-controlled robotic drone, armed with blasters of its own. It's a cool feature to be sure, but one that makes Moon's main weakness of repetition immediately apparent.

Screenshot for Moon on Nintendo DS

As it is set in the middle of the 21st century, and based on an otherwise-uninhabitable climate, Moon uses a space station setting for players to explore. Trouble is, this theme is played to death and back, as there is very little variation between areas, and there are very few design differences between enemy robots and drones. The robotic drone you get control of is also vastly overused, almost always just to get through a narrow gap to disable a barrier blocking Major Kane from progressing; the basis for a vast number of Moon's puzzle-based levels. The focus on shooting doesn't help either; it was clearly Renegade's intention to put the gunning gameplay mechanics first, but in doing so they have highlighted the limitations of that choice. Even the chance to a pilot a moon buggy later on does little to inject freshness into the game, as there is little resistance towards it.

Screenshot for Moon on Nintendo DS

There is no multiplayer option for Moon, but thankfully the single player is very extensive. There are a vast number of levels and episodes, each one spanning a quarter of an hour at the very least, and offering bucketloads of challenge on any difficulty choice above easy. Sometimes there are harsh spikes in difficulty, particularly with later boss fights, but the game is rarely unfair, with checkpoints and progress-saving points evenly spaced. There are collectable elements throughout the levels for entertaining unlockables, so there is incentive to go back later on, but the main campaign as standard will take players a while. Moon's technical prowess is outstanding, and sets a benchmark for other games of the FPS genre to attest to, but be prepared to end up repeating environments and your actions more than a few times.

Screenshot for Moon on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Renegade Kid have crafted one of the finest shooters on any handheld in recent memory, albeit not one without its fair share of problems. Control, visuals and sound mesh together to provide an immersive, and for the platform it is on, a unique experience, but one that bears the unfortunate and frequent annoyance of repeated areas and tasks. One for the FPS enthusiast.


Renegade Kid




First Person Shooter



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   


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