Moon Raider – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Platformer
Developer: Cascadia Games
Publishers: Cascadia Games, Crescent Moon Games, Drageus Games
Platform: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, IOs/Android
Tested On: Switch

Moon Raider – Review

Site Score
6.0
Good: Great art
Bad: Generally bland
User Score
7.8
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 7.8/10 (4 votes cast)

Action platformers have existed for a very long time, with extremely well-known games such as Contra or Mega Man in their ranks. Moon Raider is the latest to join them, clearly drawing inspiration from the latter in its design, although by no means reaching the greatness of the Mega Man series. As a small indie game, Moon Raider is a short but generally entertaining experience, here is what it has to offer.

Story

Moon raider’s story centers on Ava, the daughter of a scientist and the deposed queen of the moon. After her father traveled to Earth’s satellite, he found a technologically advanced civilization in it, with which he attempted to start friendly relationships. Sadly, everything went awry after a faction of the selenites rebelled against their queen, who fled with Ava’s father back to Earth.

Now in the present day, Ava’s mother is slowly dying, due to the lack of the gem energy naturally produced by the moon which all selenites require to survive. Tasked with obtaining enough gems to save her mother, Ava must travel to the moon and face its dangers in order to obtain said gems.

The game’s story is rather shallow, with little more than an initial and final cutscene to tell it. Throughout the game, several little things can be learned about the moon and its inhabitants thanks to the context provided by the different bosses; although it can be summarized in a couple of lines. Funnily enough, the game features a mechanic similar to Sonic games, where Ava may release several trapped aliens, even though it lacks a coherent connection to the story.

Graphics

Moon Raider’s graphics are rather pretty with high-quality pixel art. That said, there are certain wonkier things that can be found in it, such as sprites not matching their hitboxes or nonsensical animations like T-pose jumps when using trampolines. Luckily enough, these are not all too common, only being a bother in the earlier parts of the game.

Besides this, Moon Raider certainly features a wide variety of environments, with a grand total of 10 different ones to be found. The same does apply to enemies, although their utilization is questionable, since a few generic ones will be seen way more than the more unique environment-specific ones. Most bosses are also quite different from each other, with different mechanics and animations, although a pair are just larger normal enemies and a certain boss is reused with a re-color.

Sound

Contrarily to the graphics section, Moon raider’s sound design is rather underwhelming, with mostly forgettable music and simply alright SFX. The design of both the soundtrack and sound effects can be described as “generic sci-fi” including blaster and machinery sounds. Other than this, the game doesn’t feature anything else that could be noteworthy sound-wise.

Gameplay

As previously mentioned, Moon Raider belongs to the action platformer genre, heavily drawing inspiration from games such as the Mega Man. The basic mechanics consist of a jump, a second mid-air jump, shooting and an invincibility dash, with the latter two and Ava’s health being upgradeable by obtaining collectibles hidden in marked walls throughout the game.

Although players will start without the dash ability, it is obtained soon enough after defeating the first boss. This dash is an utterly unbalanced mechanic which allows players to simply waltz through enemies and hazards while being completely invulnerable, alongside providing the ability of flight. The only condition to use this dash is having enough energy, obtained by defeating enemies and collecting gems. Energy can run out rather quickly and gems can be dropped upon taking damage. That said, every single time players may have enough energy, they may just fly through the level ignoring everything.

Another poorly balanced mechanic comes thanks to the aforementioned collectibles, particularly the ones revolving around damage. Upon reaching the last tier of these, players may then proceed to one-shot every single enemy in the game, bosses being the exception. Something similar may presumably happen upon collecting enough energy storage increase collectibles, although sadly they seem to be bugged out in the Switch version, leaving players with the 99 energy cap even after obtaining several of these.

The way the game balances its difficulty is also rather questionable, relying more than often on instakill hazards instead of actual platforming challenges. Something similar is done for most boss fights too, in which, instead of providing actual balance or mechanics, the game simply deprives players of the dash ability for obvious reasons. Funnily enough, the one boss fight which doesn’t do this goes down as one may expect, with said boss dying almost instantly when hit by the dash.

To add to the game’s faults, it should be mentioned how trivial obtaining the gems to save Ava’s mother becomes. Although most are somewhat hidden and may present some amount of difficulty to obtain (assuming players don’t have the energy to just dash to them), collecting them can be seemingly ignored, since the last boss appears to drop enough gems to fill the player’s counter to the 200 required regardless of how many they may have.

Conclusion

Moon Raider is an alright game to spend an afternoon with, it can be completely beaten in under 4 hours and offers little replay value. While the game is not the worst, it isn’t good either, being an okay experience to kill some time and be promptly forgotten. With a price point of $/€9,99 or £8,99, it is hard to recommend Moon Raider other than on sale, there being much better games for a similar amount of money.

Personal Opinion

“As stated in the review, Moon Raider is an alright game. I don’t have any strong feelings about it nor do I think I’ll remember it after a while. The most I can say about it is it provided me with an entertaining Sunday afternoon while watching some series. It’s generally entertaining and competent enough to keep players engaged as long as they don’t mind some instakill shenanigans. Thinking about it, Moon Raider feels rather pointless, seeing as the story isn’t engaging and there is nothing to find in each level besides the gems and the occasional hidden power-up, the first of which I already mentioned are irrelevant.”

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Rating: 7.8/10 (4 votes cast)
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Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
Moon Raider - Review, 7.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

1 Comment

  1. 3rd-strike.com | Mighty Aphid – Review
    September 2, 2021, 00:01

    […] is a spin-off game for Cascadia’s earlier project, Moon Raider – a game we reviewed here and which in turn takes heavy inspiration from Mega Man. Mighty Aphid falls into the same genre of […]

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