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Moon Diver Review (XBLA)

Game Review: Moon Diver
Release: May 4, 2011 (XBLA), March 29, 2011 (PSN)
Genre: Action
Developer: Square-Enix
Available Platforms: Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360
Players: 1-4
MSRP: $14.99/1200 MS Points
ESRB Rating:
Website: http://dlgames.square-enix.com/moondiver/

With the end of the world at the hands of Faust, five ninjas are out to defeat him and save the day. Seyfert, Hitori, Tolby, Ourion, and Silence are out to defeat the Demon King and his goals to destroy the world. Using their rapid-fire attacks, they’ll team up through the cities and slay the animated machinery out to destroy them. Can they do it in this callback to four-player arcade games, or should Square-Enix stick to RPGs?

Moon Diver comes to Xbox Live a little over a month after making it’s PSN debut. Square-Enix breaks from their tried and true format of RPGs and attempts to do an action-platformer in the vein of old arcade games, but brings much of their highlights to the build. Characters can level up, focus on building up their health, magic, or strength. Items acquired throughout the levels allow you to customize your available special attacks. These parts show off the Square-Enix influence; special attacks have flowery names and sometimes zoom in on the character, appearing more like a special attack from Final Fantasy than Final Fight.

Simplistic controls allow a bit of sanity in the craziness in the game. An action button allows you to charge for a stronger attack or rapid taps for quicker ones, a jump button lets you dodge attacks with a double jump, a dash lets you fly through your enemies, the d-pad allows you to choose from your four pre-selected special attacks (and unleash them with another button), all while trying to chain attacks. Much like Strider, you’ll cling to walls and scale huge edifices to reach your final goal, and like a Castlevania or Metroid title, you’ll gain HP and MP along the way.

The game, flatly, is fun. Quality Xbox Live integration means that you’re likely to have someone to play with, even if it means their twice your level and 10 stages beyond where you last played. A free DLC, Chain Kill Mode: Bloodbath! automatically adds a score-attack mode that can be used to beef up your characters, too, so it’s actually advisable to get a little bit of practice and power down before attempting to tackle any of the levels.

At the same time, the game doesn’t get too creative. Levels are uninspired, if only offering functional designs. Outside of color and small stats, the characters really have nothing separating them. The fifth character, Silence, is only available via paid DLC. At times, the game feels a little too simple, like you’re running through the Adventure mode of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. When the characters actually get up close to the screen, their models don’t seem too much higher than PS2 level; admittedly, a lot of them will show up on the screen at once, so this is likely a processing power issue instead of laziness in production, but it still shows. Additionally, you may be ten or fifteen minutes into a level that’s had tons of smaller sections, but if you die and don’t have a friend around to revive you, you’re back all the way to the beginning of the level. When the game gets a little repetitive by yourself, having to tackle the entire level again feels like it’s punishing you for being lonely.

Moon Diver is a great little game if you have friends to play it with. By yourself, if becomes slightly monotonous and annoying. Still, a game where you want to throw your controller down because you were only a few hits away from that much-desired 100-chain Achievement is better than one where you couldn’t care less for getting the achievement.

Bullet Points

  • Fun chain system and attacks
  • Some special attacks get too much screen time
  • Much better in multiplayer
  • DLC for a character on the title screen is somewhat insulting

Final Score
7 out of 10

 

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