Moon Diver is one of those games that really frustrates me. It’s not because the co-op beat-em-up is terrible, because it isn’t. It’s not because the graphics are dreadful, because they aren’t; they’re actually quite pleasing.
No, it frustrates me because it’s so utterly mediocre, and any potential that it might have had is completely ruined by its blandness and lack of any real passion in the final product. It certainly doesn’t help when there are a few critical gameplay mistakes that just feel like developer feelplus really don’t give a crap about making good video games.
Moon Diver is a beat-em-up about space ninjas. That’s all I can discern from the game’s hilariously infuriating plot, which is told in incomprehensible cut scenes filled with pseudo-pretentious dialogue and weird effeminately drawn Japanese men. I understand this is a Japanese effort, but I thought we were past this esoteric half-intellectual bullcrap that only impresses eighth graders.
“Outdated” might be the best way to describe the gameplay as well. It’s a side-scrolling beat-em-up, but the kind of gameplay decisions feelplus made with Moon Diver are just inexcusable. For one, you’d think a game where you take on hordes of enemies would mean you’d get to mash the attack button and unleash some sort of combo, similar to Dynasty Warriors, correct? Apparently feelplus doesn’t think so; all the characters start with one hit in their attack, and it’s a while before you gain your second hit. One of the characters requires you to level him up to 10 to enable a two-hit combo. Trust me; it’s exactly as unfun as you think it is.
And if that wasn’t enough, your attack will only hit one enemy per hit. So even if there’s a giant group of minions around you and you mash the attack button, you’ll only hit one enemy the whole time until it dies, at which you point you’ll move on to hitting another single enemy. Once again, how is that fun?
It doesn’t end there either. Moon Diver is never difficult due to actual tough enemies. It only ramps up the difficulty by throwing more annoying enemies at you. Later on in the game, there appear lasers that can literally kill you in seconds, regardless of how much HP you have. You could try killing them, but the time delay between when your combo ends and begins is so clunky and unfluid that it’s all a chore.
Oh, and did I mention there are bosses that can one-hit kill you? And once you die, you have to go all the way back to the beginning of a level (which might take you more than thirty minutes to get through), because there’s no checkpoints?
It’s funny; I’ve been putting off this review for a while, and I thought I’d be able to find a silver lining to Moon Diver by this time. I figured I could find at least one redeeming thing about this game, or at least something I could enjoy about it. However, now I realize that I may have been deluding myself into believing it was a a good game, mostly due to high anticipation for a game that I might be able to champion as an underrated gem.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case at all. Moon Diver might be the worst “buy” I’ve made this year. As I mentioned, it might not even be the worst game I’ve played all year. However, its stunning mediocrity, coupled with its frustratingly backward gameplay decisions, actually make it a game that I would actively crusade against at any opportunity. There’s not much that enrages me more in videogames than one that’s stuck in old mechanics. In this day and age when independent developers can keep up with big time studios, it just feels like a company like feelplus is being stubborn and too proud to change their ways. Take your $15 and spend it on an independent developer that invests their passion into their projects, and actually cares about video games.