Reviews

Moon Diver

Press X to pause gameplay for five seconds.


Moon Diver

Publisher: Square Enix
Rated: Everyone 10+
Players: 1-4
Price: $15.00
Platform: XBLA
Developer: feelplus inc.
Release date: 2011-05-04
URL

One of my earliest memories of playing video games is playing incredible amounts of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II at my uncle's house. The 2D beat-em-up is a genre that suffers from the problem of having a formula that is almost too simple: walk from one side of the screen to the other while mashing the punch button as much as possible. Sometimes you have to do a little light platforming, but mostly it is a straightforward punch-fest. There have been a few variations on the theme (the implementation of Devil May Cry-esque combos or the implementation of a rudimentary upgrade system or even the addition of an inventory) but the core concept has remained refreshingly pure. These games thrive on fast, flowing action that is reminiscent of quarter-munching arcade games of the past, where exposition only gets in the way and nothing matters more than the enjoyment gained from sitting on the couch with your friends and killing some time by punching monsters or robots or hipsters.

It's this fast pace that Moon Diver promises when you boot it up and to some extent delivers -- although not quite as well as you'd hope. You want fast-paced action and lots of enemies to punch your way through? Well, Moon Diver has those things, provided you never, ever use your special powers, which all trigger a five-second animation that completely freezes all other gameplay. Five seconds might seem like a piddling amount, but it makes a huge difference when you're playing with friends (and Moon Diver is meant to be played with friends, make no mistake). As my brother and I played, we kept losing track of where our characters were because once the flashy cutscene ended, we had to find out where our people had been left after the effects of the move hit. This only happens with particular moves, though. Other special moves have no such animations, although if you decide to team up with other players, you can cast spells for free -- at the price of another five second cutscene.

New powers can be unlocked by finding them as you traverse a level, although these discovered powers cannot be accessed until the current level is complete. Once that happens, you can upgrade your Moon Diver's health, magic, or assign them new powers. It's a fairly rudimentary bit of RPG sprinkled onto the system a la the Scott Pilgrim game, although Pilgrim levels the player up automatically (and allows for the immediate use of new powers). Not being able to immediately access your new powers is a niggling complaint next to the game's real problem, which is that its visuals are far too confused.

Find all the players if you think you can. I couldn't.

The problems begin with the HUD, which takes up so much screen space that on several occasions I lost my character behind it. It takes up the top fifth of the screen, and with a full four player complement, it is even more ludicrous. It's unnecessary and blown up to the size that it is in order to show the portrait of your character, which doesn't really need to be that large. And it doesn't really help to identify who is playing who anyway. The characters suffer from looking like the enemies (of which there are many), and with the fast pace that the game is trying to deliver, the screen frequently becomes too busy to tell what is going on, where your player is, and what -- if anything -- is trying to kill you. With a full complement of four players, it becomes even more difficult to determine who is who and what if anything is going on. It's a shame, because when the combat works, and you can actually figure out what's going on, it's a lot of fun. An overactive visual design, however, keeps Moon Diver from being great.

4

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image