When Moon Chronicles for the 3DS was announced, I knew I had to have it. As a big fan of Renegade Kid’s DS games, such as the Dementium series and of course, Moon, Moon Chronicles was an attractive offer to me. Renegade Kid managed to create a beautiful first-person shooter engine on the DS and, with the added power of the 3DS, I knew Renegade Kid would make a fantastic-looking 3DS game and set the bar for other FPS games on the 3DS. While the technical limits of the game cannot be denied, there is a bit of a compromise to be had. Going from a full release on the DS to an episodic release on the 3DS may hinder your game experience, depending on why you purchase this game.
Moon Chronicles takes place in the year 2058 on the moon — what a twist!. You play as Major Kane and are sent to the facility on the moon to investigate a strange sealed hatch that has been discovered. Without revealing too much of the story, you end up having to fight off various alien technologies and enemies on the base to find out what exactly is going on. You find a canister that gives you a “superhuman” feeling andthen it’s off to find out what happened to the rest of your crew. The game offers a solid story and, with splitting it into episodes, makes it feel live a good sci-fi TV show. However, that is where the first problem lies.
The problem is Episode 1 is just way too short. For $8.99, you get to play the first four chapters and a special VR training mission, if you find the alien artifacts in chapter two. As someone who played the original game, I was familiar with everything, but when I finished the episode in under thirty-five minutes on my first playthrough, I felt a bit … cheated. It does offer three levels of difficulty and I chose normal, so I went back and played through on hard. While the enemies were harder, it’s still the same game, so I still was left with an empty feeling. The VR training was a nice addition, but once again, I finished it way too quickly.
What I did get to play looked and felt fantastic, though. The game looked solid on the DS, but the extra hardware of the 3DS gives Moon Chronicles an unparalleled experience for an FPS on a Nintendo handheld. The game moves at a brisk sixty frames per second and everything flows together beautifully. Pictures and video don’t do the game justice, as the 3D slider can be ramped up all the way with little to no issue. Weapons are clearly designed, boss enemies are big and crisp, and the game just looks great. There is one graphical issue, that of the cutscenes. They are ripped from the DS version and, while that’s not a bad thing because they looked great on the DS, there is a noticeable drop in quality with the actual game looking better then the cutscenes. The music is a bit repetitive and annoying, but the sound effects are well done, especially when playing with headphones on. It helps to immerse you in the experience much more so than the 3DS speakers.
The game offers a wide variety of control schemes as well. From the Circle Pad Pro to aiming with the touch screen and the face buttons, Moon Chronicles manages to cater to every need you could possibly have as far as controlling the game. The shooting is tight and responsive and the game flows very well from area to area. At certain points, you will have to use a Remote Access Droid to enter areas that Kane cannot and using the droid is well controlled. As great as the game looked and played, I still felt it was short and left me wanting too much more.
I reached out to Jools Watsham of Renegade Kid and asked for an explanation, as maybe I was missing something. We had a good discussion and it made things clearer to me. Episode 1 is considered the “gateway.” In order to play subsequent episodes, you need Episode 1, as the engine and whatnot is what is downloaded. The other episodes will be available at a discount price, somewhere in the range of $2 or $3. A season pass will also be offered and, after the initial four episodes of the original Moon are complete, there will be new episodes with brand-new content.
So your enjoyment of Moon Chronicles will be based on how much you want to play in the game. If you are a fan of FPS games that feel like Metroid Prime, Moon Chronicles is a great pick-up. The game looks and controls great and is a solid addition to the 3DS library. The main thing to keep in mind is that this is just a taste of what is to come from the game. Is that taste worth $8.99? To me, yes, because I plan on getting all of the additional content and sticking with the series. Some gamers might not like the episodes and cliffhangers and that’s understandable, too. If you plan on playing the entire game, Moon Chronicles Episode 1 is a smart choice. If you are buying to just play the initial episode, you may be left a bit disappointed.
Low Score: 5 / 10
- Cinemas are ripped from DS
- Music is boring
High Score: 8.5 / 10
- Game looks outstanding
- Solid 60 FPS
- Excellent sound effects