The Nintendo DS is not known for its first-person shooters, despite a stylus/button interface that can be used like a portable mouse and keyboard. There have been some successful ones though (Metroid Prime Hunters, the Call of Duty series, Brothers in Arms) but some of the most impressive, non-Nintendo work has been performed by Renegade Kid, the creators of 2007’s Dementium: The Ward.
Renegade Kid created the Renegade Engine for Dementium, one that allowed for detailed 3D graphics, fantastic controls, and a slick and static 60 frames per second, no matter how much was going on in your two screens. Enter Moon, the latest offering for the system from this up and coming developer. For Moon, the engine was tweaked for better detail, improved lighting, and once again, a rock-solid 60 frames per second. This game is a stunning achievement on the dual-screen handheld for its visuals and performance of the engine, but how does the game stack up as a whole?
Jan. 13, 2009
Moon takes place on, you guessed it, Earth’s satellite, in the year 2058 and features the story of Major Kane as he explores a hidden moon base following the massacring of his special forces team at the hands of unknown attackers. Kane was on the lunar surface in order to explore a hatch uncovered by a team prepping the satellite as a launch point for a Mars mission, but before he and his team can get to checking out the contents of the hatch, he is the lone member left alive, and is forced to explore it on his own.
This is where Moon shines, as the story and the telling of it are both well done. Kane interacts with his superiors over a communication link in text cutscenes-superiors who know far more about what is going on than Kane does. In addition to this, there are terminals scattered throughout the underground base that detail the activities of the people that constructed it. These are short-about a paragraph long a piece-but there are many of them, and searching them out to uncover more of the story will become a top priority for you as you explore more of the base.
Exploration is the key to this game. Yes, it’s a first-person shooter, but the focus is mostly on looking through every nook and cranny of the hidden base, searching for clues as to what happened to your fellow squad members and in the past, when this base was populated by more than security robots and turrets. If you wanted to buy Moon because you wanted to fight loads of enemies, you’re barking up the wrong tree. There are baddies to shoot, but these are often used to break up the exploration aspect of the game rather than as the central focus of the title.
In addition to exploration, there is puzzle solving. To aid with these puzzles, you have a small droid (RAD, for remote access droid) that you can take control of to fit into areas that Kane cannot, such as vents, tunnels and under piping and wires. While using the droid, Kane is no longer under your control, but he is still active in the sense that if enemies find him, he will take damage and die. This works in reverse as well, so be sure to find and pick up your RAD once you are finished unsealing doors and security lasers.