Developed by feelplus, this addition to Square Enix's growing DLC library has received a fair amount of attention namely for being dubbed the "Strider of the 21st century." After quite a bit of time with the game, such a statement might need some revising even with Strider's great Koichi Yotsui at the director's chair.
What Is It About?
Originally known as Necromachina, Moon Diver is an action-packed sidescrolling beat-em-up that is just about as forgiving as a dictator enforcing stupid rules. The game revolves around a crazed ageless boy named Faust who, with the power of the Mephistopheles, has the ability to bring life into anything dead. In this apocolyptic 22nd century world, the environments are filled with nothing but rubble, but that doesn't stop Faust, who's fetish for cleaning the world of any sort of life, in his attempt to re-define evil.
Of course, evil must be stopped, and that's where the Moon Divers come in. The Moon Divers are a bunch of ninjas (or bounty hunters, considering they don't resemble ninjas) out to stop Faust's insane actions in order to bring some sort of peace back to the ruined world.
Why Should I Care?
Seeing as how the game is a 2D sidescroller where the point is to get to the end of the map, stomping on everything in the player's path–the story isn't much to write home about. Fortunately there is some fun to be had here. Controls are relatively simple to pick up. Players can move freely around the screen, mindlessly attack with the trigger button, and use special magical moves with another button. Perhaps the coolest feature in the game is the Smash Bros-like double jumps that can be pulled off by double tapping on the jump button, which sets up some solid platforming action.
To add to the fun, three other players can be added to the action for some old-school four-player cooperative play. This is actually the suggested method of play because levels are quite challenging. While we didn't suffer excruciating death early in the game, the first boss was definitely no pushover. To make matters worse, once everybody dies, players have to start over from the beginning of level–which is extremely unfortunate because the levels are rather long and are pouring with enemies.
While it can be annoying to fight the same hoards of enemies again and again, it becomes helpful. Similar to the more recent sidescrolling Castlevania games, levels are gained when beating up monsters, so since players are at a constant grind, they'll grow increasingly stronger with more experience. In addition, there are new moves to be learned, and the game does a good job of explaining each action's use.
As fun as it all seems to be, this is all there really is to do, making the experience extremely repetitive with almost nothing to look forward to.
What Makes It Worth My Money?
As for the game's presentation, the Moon Diver doesn't look horrible, but it isn't the best-looking game either. Almost every level looks the same, and while that makes sense due to the fact that the world is in ruin, it doesn't look like much creative thought was put into the world in general. It could've at least had more color. Moon Diver sounds like anybody would expect from a sidescrolling beat-em-up, and nothing is really memorable to the ear.
At its core, Moon Diver is a solid game with 12 action-packed stages, fun cooperative gameplay, and a challenge to boot. However, because of repetitive gameplay that gets old after an hour, it's hard to give this game a full recommendation with its $14.99 price tag. This is a game that should feed the fancy of old-school gamers for a couple of hours, but it doesn't do much more than that.