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Moon Raider: Mega jank


Intro:

The adventure begins.

I got this title through my Steam curator a while back. Unfortunately, a slew of more interesting games won the random number generator game. Now that I have played it. Moon Raider is quite adequate, janky, and often mindless but mostly okay.


Story:


A brilliant scientist goes to the moon and discovers aliens. The queen of the aliens falls in love with the scientist and runs off with him. One daughter later, the queen is sick, and said daughter goes back to the moon to find a cure. There isn't much of a story to be found here. There could be some plot claimed from the context of fighting the King as you are typically his cheating wife’s bustard offspring but that's only when you think about it. The opening cut scene is there for context and little else. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on.


Gameplay:


Annndd he's gone.

Moon Raider is a basic 2d platformer and shooter. The levels are remarkable with only moderate exploration. There is nothing new to talk about here, most of its design is relatively competent. Wow. That was a loaded sentence! I can feel the asterisk hurtling towards me like a rogue shuriken. Moon Raider is at best a perfectly unremarkable title that serves to distract you for a weekend and at best annoyingly janky.


The bosses


The bosses (asides from the final) are surprisingly easy to deal with once the patterns are memorized. They do not evolve or change patterns at the moment. Boss fights are also recycled, I had two boss fights that behaved in the same way with different wallpaper. One was just a regular enemy but larger, and yet died as quickly as a normal enemy. The final boss fight felt like a real boss fight as it was challenging and had four stages. The only problem was that two of those four stages are repeats of the first two. It is also here when Moon Raider’s difficulty curve spikes upwards to the point of overhang.


He dies in a minute.

You have to utilize twitch reflexes and timing instead of just pattern recognition. There is nothing wrong with this per se but there is a problem (which we will get to) with the controls. There is also a criticism I have with the design choice where your gem (power source) is stolen before the start of every boss fight. A boss fight should be an exam for all the skills we have acquired. Taking them away is a cheap way of making the boss fights more ‘challenging’. That was until I faced off the boss fight that did not take away my power meter and I killed it within less than a minute. Taking away your powers is an easy and haphazard way of balancing the boss fights so they are doormats.


Shooting


The gunplay is perfectly fine surface level Mega Man combat. Unfortunately, there is only a single gun. It does not change or evolve asides from rapid-fire. Any upgrades one can get by exploring the level tend to upgrade your health/damage/shields/gem storage. Pretty boring as a whole but also perfectly fine, the system is the problem, but rather the...


Janky controls


Just shoot off the drills.

You cannot shoot while double-jumping nor can you duck down to dodge projectiles. You can shoot upwards but you cannot move while doing so. The controls have a slight input lag, and if you try to shoot directly after landing from a double jump, your character will not shoot and will stand looking stupidly at the bullet that is about to hit her. These sorts of little problems mount up to a very big problem in the final boss. Which; as mentioned before, relies on twitch reflexes and reaction timing. You cannot do that when the controls lag or do not respond at all. The controls shift between being perfectly fine and awkwardly difficult to use. As a result, Moon Raider's final boss is frustrating as the controls are too janky to perform twitch reflexes.


Art style and Graphics:


The pixel art is beautiful. I would say the most positive thing about Moon Raider is how astoundingly beautiful the game is. There is a little inspiration from Mega Man in the character design. There’s a little bit of Legend of Zelda in the monster designs. Even the visuals themselves are rather uninspired, it still looks nice.


Performance:


Crashed once, and a dipping inconsistent frame rate of between 60 to 30 FPS.


Conclusion:


You face him again with ice.

Moon Raider is a better mobile port than most. Nevertheless, there is a lot of jank in the controls and the difficulty fluctuates between being too easy to annoyingly difficult. I would not recommend this, as there are loads of better games one could spend their time on.


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