STAFF REVIEW of Moon Diver (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Sunday, June 19, 2011.
by Brent Roberts

Moon Diver Box art It's 2081 and the day has come. Humanity is faced with its own annihilation. However, while the death and destruction reign over all of mankind, our salvation may rest on the shoulders of brave ninjas called Moon Divers. Allies Seyfert, Hitori, Tolby, Ourion are summoned by their Shogun to embark on a quest to save humanity from a demonic devil named Faust whose sole purpose is to ensure the death and destruction of planet Earth and everything and everyone on it. It is time to sharpen your swords, hone your magic abilities, trust in your brethren, and complete the mission from your Shogun for the hope of mankind rests but on the edge of your blade. From the creator of the iconic video games of the Strider series, follow us now as we lead you through Square Enix's latest Xbox Live Arcade hit Moon Diver.

Saving humanity will not be easy, or quick, but it is a task for which you will not fail. Moon Diver offers us a wealth of content and focuses on the strength of your brothers instead of rewarding lone wolves. To start our journey we focus on the story mode which could be best described as very long and involved. The story mode however is unfolded through cryptic messages in between stages which does very little to help educate gamers as to what exactly is going on. This proves to be a major setback as you spend most of your time trying to figure out "who is that person?", "why is this going on?", "what am I doing here? The story mode however isn't lost completely as you traverse over 10 levels of intense, action packed stages. Each stage however is broken up into multiple stages and some with more than one exit which provides gamers different paths to choose. Another great feature of Moon Diver is that you have the ability to upgrade your character and in such, upgrade three different stats for your player (HP, MP, and Power). This adds a complete customization element that allows gamers to develop a character their way, instead of being locked into company decided presets. Throughout the story mode you will also come across various spells which all have multiple levels as well to progress through. With over 40 different spells that range from invisibility, healing, shooting fireballs, and more, each player can chose their own 4 spells to bring into battle with them, and having the right magic can mean the difference between saving the human race and game over. There are other modes as well such as keeping your kill chain high, survival modes, and even four player multiplayer both online and off. Remember that you are stronger together than apart.

Throughout the years we have all seen Xbox Live Arcade titles that offer some impressive graphics. Granted they are few and far between but Moon Diver is the next entry on that prestigious list. The 2D side scrolling levels seem to fly by in such a fluid pace as you are dodging enemy fire, jumping crevices, hanging and climbing up walls and ceilings. The enemies are well detailed however leave little inspiration. You will witness the basic progression as you have a regular grey enemy, a more powerful yellow enemy, and an even more powerful red version of the same enemy. In essence, the color of your enemy determines their strengths, abilities, and xp. The main graphical focus of Moon Diver rests solely on its fluid combat, multiplayer, and magic. The fluid combat acts as a way to deliver tons of beautiful explosions and flying enemies all over your screen like a violent play. The multiplayer and magic tie in hand in hand but one of the innovations that are spectacular to witness is the new multiplayer MoonSault combos. These special attacks take two to four players to execute, are easy to pull off by pushing the B button, and fill the screen with graphical combat beauty.

In the realm of music, Moon Diver is surprisingly bland and annoying. The menu music is your basic mix of electronic rock/techno tunes that are blended together to try to create an exciting and adrenaline filled 5.1 surround sound experience. The saving grace to the music is that it ties in beautifully when you are neck deep in hundreds of enemies, fighting your way to salvation; or when you are going toe to toe with a boss that towers over you. While there are moments where the music fits, most of the time the music becomes repetitive and unfortunately does very little to support the game itself.

Ultimately you have to ask yourself if this is worth your 1200 MS Points. If you are looking for a great 4 player side scrolling adventure then look no further. Sure it may not be as iconic as a Castlevania game, but Moon Diver delivers a lot for only 1200 MS points, and once purchased they even offer some free DLC and more DLC for only 80 MS points each! Great character structure, classic upgrade scheme mixed with a wide variety of spells and all blended in a fluid combat system make Moon Diver a must have in any Xbox Live Arcade library.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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