Moon Diver Review – Is It the New Strider?


Moon Diver is the newest four-player cooperative experience, and it’s got ninjas — what’s not to love? In addition to that, the lead designer is the same one who brought us Strider. With that being said, some people are going to have lofty expectations.

Just wait until you get an online game with four of the same characters...that's when the fun starts!

The first thing you’ll do in the game is choose your character. Four characters are available, but they all essentially play the same. The main difference is what stats they start out with, and how well they will be able to specialize in the three stats: health, power, and magic. They also each get their own color. Here’s where the trouble starts. When you play online with up to three other players, each player can choose the same character and they’ll all be the exact same color as well. Anyone who’s played a Smash Bros. game, or just about any four-player game, knows that it can be hard to track your character even when they are completely different from the rest. To further the confusion, the ninjas can do a charge move by holding down their attack button. When their attack is fully charged, there is a bright blue glow that almost covers the entire character. Even worse is the fact that no matter which character you choose, it’s always a blue glow.

 

Projectiles are a good way to bust through the many lines of bad guys that appear.

The core move-set of the ninjas is somewhat basic, but includes all of the important moves. Each ninja can double-jump, air-dash, cling to walls and ceilings, air-dive, perform combo slashes, and charge for a powerful attack. In addition to that, players will be able to find various kinds of magic abilities hidden throughout the levels that allow you to shoot projectiles, increase defense or attack, freeze enemies, making them blind, and also a few that make the player(s) temporarily invincible. One thing I do like about the magic system is that when one person holds down their magic button, they will start glowing, signaling to the other players that if they too hold their magic buttons, they will receive the magical effects as well, encouraging teamwork. Another nice feature is being able to tap down while on certain thinner platforms and have your ninja flip downwards and grab onto the ceiling below. One small annoyance comes in the form of the wall grabbing, which will automatically happen by simply walking up to a wall. If you thought Cole was clingy in inFamous, you haven’t seen anything yet. After walking into that wall and clinging onto it, you are required to press down and then away from the wall to get off of it. Other than that, the controls do their job in allowing you to maneuver the sometimes perilous levels filled with tons of mid-sized platforms.

 

Don't let the fire fool you. This boss is simple.

Now that we’ve covered the characters and their controls, perhaps it’s time to actually start the game. Moon Diver can be played either alone or with up to three other players both online and local. There are a total of twelve levels and it might take around two to three hours to get through the game, depending on how much help you’re getting. One of the most interesting enemies you’ll face is a yellow robot that if killed with a regular attack, will cause an explosion that extends across the screen in four directions. If one of these explosions happens to hit another yellow robot, that one will explode as well. So, if you’re not careful about using your charge attack instead, you could possibly see several chains of explosions that might send many a ninja flying in all directions. The bosses are dull for the most part. Sure they look huge, detailed and cool looking, but gameplay-wise, they don’t satisfy. With four ninjas mashing away, we repeatedly attacked a horse-looking boss with him only getting two small bursts of bullets out before he died. The first six levels will have you jumping around platforms while killing enemies and being forced every now and then to stop and kill a set pattern of enemies. This first section of the game is okay, but just after you’ve started to enjoy the game, it gets ridiculously difficult in certain areas.

 

Those purple things that look like flower petals are bullets. Combined with the lasers, they can be quite an annoyance.

Remember those magic powers I told you about earlier? Well, they were put into the game for a reason. There are three powers with each giving you either the ability to become invincible, blind all enemies or freeze all enemies. They all serve the same function though: to temporarily stop the insane chaos that would otherwise be occurring. The later sections of the game have lasers that blast to the edge of the screen and then do a sweeping motion. They start their attack off-screen before you can see them and they are often combined with other lasers, or even worse, a gun that shoots a rapid scatter of bullets directly at you. The result is that you will either need to be constantly healing or using your powers. The game is very beatable, but that’s not the point. It’s not very fun going through certain areas knowing that it’s next to impossible to dodge certain things. It takes the skill and fun out of it. Eventually, you might just start rushing straight through obstacles while rapidly healing, or using other powers, realizing that that’s the best tactic anyway.

 

Moon Diver has a little bit of fun contained within it, but that is mostly on account of having online multiplayer. I wouldn’t recommend it at its current price of $14.99, especially when there are other more compelling games at lower price points. There isn’t enough variety in the enemies, and the ones that are there seem to mostly exist so that each online player can smack something. There are cheap sections in the game that feel like they were there to purposely kill players whether they’re skilled or unskilled. This will either result in deaths, or the repeated use of magic powers, some of which take a few seconds to recharge each time they are cast. The boss battles are mostly simple, and none of them are memorable. If you have extra money to spare, or if all that you require is a game that works and allows for 4-player co-op, this game will do just fine. There are going to be players out there who enjoy this game, but those looking for a refined game experience are better off somewhere else. To answer the title of this review, no, this is definitely not the new Strider.

Moon Diver is available on Xbox 360 for 1200 MS Points and Playstation 3 for $14.99.

Grade: C+

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Ryan Southard
Ryan Southard 776 posts

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it's new or it's old, as long as it's awesome, he'll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>

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