|Pub: Square Enix|
|Release: March 29, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Fantasy Violence|
by Jake Valentine
All the best side scrollers have something that makes them stand out from the crowd, whether it's the steep difficulty in Battletoads, the unique style and humor from a Behemoth game, or the great personality found in the Streets of Rage series. Moon Diver, sadly, has absolutely none of this. As always, Square Enix is able to give us an interesting concept on paper: ninjas using over-the-top powers and abilities to save an apocalyptic world. It just doesn't work out on paper.
The biggest issue is that Moon Diver is generic. Stop me if you've heard this one before: In an anime-inspired story in the 22nd century, four ninjas, known as the Moondivers, are tasked with saving Earth from demons who seek to destroy all humanity. I get that the story is second fiddle to the gameplay, but the gameplay is so repetitive (jump off walls, mash buttons, rinse and repeat) that it only displays the game's other flaws. The game offers a level-up system, unlocking various abilities, spells, and techniques to customize your character. It's a bit deeper than some of the other similar systems to the market and does offer some hope for the title, but it isn't really fleshed out enough.
For how evil the threat is supposed to be, most enemies are content watching you slice them up. Things felt a bit too easy, until I'd run across either special enemies or bosses themselves; the grunts are merely fodder to add up combos, yet if this is their sole purpose, there aren't enough of them. They ultimately become a nuisance, adding into the game's repetition.
The one thing Moon Diver does right, however, is the co-op gameplay. This game is meant to be played with friends, but at times it feels like the entire development cycle was spent developing co-op, and other portions of the game weren't focused on. You are able to play the game alone, but you're not going to have fun. The game shines with four players, at times showing signs of promise and bringing back the nostalgia of pumping quarters into arcade machines. But despite its over-the-top action, I wasn't impressed. The gameplay is nearly identical to a game like The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, only without the insane combo building and violent kills. The game eventually adds in some nifty platforming, but it could have seen better usage throughout the game, combining the platforming and killing into one. I mean, it's not like you're playing as a ninja. Oh, wait…