oon, DS

Moon is one of the very few first-person-shooters for the DS, so as both an FPS and DS enthusiast it's purchase was a no brainer for me.  Particularly since it was being sold by the boutique publisher, Mastiff, who usually brings hidden gems to light.

The controls, the most important part of the game's success are thus: you move by using the cross-pad, you change your view by using the stylus, you shoot by pressing the left trigger.  These controls can be mirrored if you are left-handed, where you would use the four buttons instead of the cross-pad.

The style of play will be very familiar to anyone who can recall the early days of id's Quake.  Fairly complex multi-leveled environments, all designed to conceal colored door keys for you to find and eventually get to the end of the level.  Making things a little more interesting, your boss will come up on a Metal Gear-like codec and talk with you from time to time, giving you information and maps.

The enemies are a little bland.  Mostly small robots that crawl on the ground and fly through the air.  

Up through the sixth level the game engages you sufficiently, the novelty of playing an FPS on the DS is enjoyable enough to make up for the back-tracking levels.  

The sixth level however, kills the game.  You get to control a vehicle, using the same controls as described above.  You are placed on a timed course which is lined with mines and turrents.  If you don't get to the end of the level in time, or in one piece, "Game Over".  This would be fine, however there is a bug in the game that if, upon meeting this challenge, you park the vehicle where indicated, you will not be able to get out of the vehicle.  You have to park in front of the goal, then walk over the "finish line".  This complicates things a bit, since getting out of your car forces a 4 second animation (and trust me, you don't have four seconds to give).

Adding to this bug, the game has only one save slot (which you don't control), so once you "fail" in this manner you get an auto-save back to the last checkpoint.  In my case this meant the last 50 seconds of the race, where my health was to the level where if I hit a single mine, or was to be shot by a turrent, I die.

The only option at this point is to start a new game, which cancels all of your progress thus far (all six levels).

Given that the first five levels where only just above tedious to begin with, this is where my time with Moon ended.

If you know about this bug going into the game, it *may* be worth a heavily discounted purchase if you really need to play "keyboard and mouse" style shooter on your DS, as the setting is otherwise enjoyable.

- Phil Fogg

4/10